A simple guide to UX copywriting

Nick Harland
March 2023

A brief guide to what UX copywriting means, the difference from UX writing, and how you can apply UX principles to any form of copywriting.

A good user experience (UX) also means good copywriting. The two things are more interlinked than ever before - so much so that there are now writing jobs dedicated entirely to UX.

Both UX writing and UX copywriting seem to be used pretty interchangeably on the interwebs. However, there’s a subtle difference between them.

Let’s first define both terms so we can see the difference.

What is UX writing?

UX writing refers to the little buttons and tiny bits of text (microcopy) you find in a website or app. They exist to guide you through the product and generally make it easier to interact with. It could include anything from error messages to navigational buttons.

UX writers are responsible for writing these bits of microcopy. You probably won’t notice most of them, but then again, that’s kinda the point of good UX writing. You would only notice it if you had a poor user experience on a website or app.

For example, let’s say you want to create a new Google account. The words you see on the page were most likely written by a UX writer. They put the words there to make your journey from A to Z smoother.

So that’s UX writing. UX copywriting, however, is slightly different.

What is UX copywriting?

UX copywriting is more sales-focused. While UX writing exists to make it easier for a user to interact with a website, UX copywriting is done to convince the reader to take action.

For example, a UX copywriter might change the copy in the checkout process to make it easier for users to complete their purchase. Do you see the difference? It has a sales goal in mind and isn’t just concerned with facilitating a good user experience. 

A good UX copywriter wouldn’t just be responsible for improving the user experience - they would also be responsible for driving sales and increasing conversions.

And just like copywriting, UX copywriting is done to convince the reader to take action on something. But instead of doing this through, say, a Facebook ad or blog post, it’s done through an improved user experience.

4 reasons why good UX is so important for copywriting

1. It’s at the heart of digital copywriting

Copywriting is mostly digital nowadays. And good UX is central to digital copywriting. Almost every piece of digital copy you write must be done with the user experience in mind.

In practice, that means a few things. A logical layout. Using headings, subheadings and bullet points. Putting the key information front and centre. Breaking up long chunks of text. Not having irritating pop-ups or ads. 

Simply put, good digital copywriting = good UX writing.

2. It’s vital for SEO

Google use lots of factors to determine where your content will be ranked in the search results. Hundreds, in fact. But one of the most important is user experience.

The better the user experience, the better the search rank. That means quicker loading times, better navigability, a logical content structure. It means making the key information as easy as possible to access for the reader. All of these factors are important for SEO.

3. Because your reader demands it

But maybe the biggest reason why UX is so important is actually quite simple. It’s because the user expects it. If they have a bad experience on your website or app, they simply won’t engage with your content, buy your product or interact with your company.

You could write the greatest piece of content that has ever existed. It could be beautifully written and packed with useful information. But if it’s buried beneath a poor user experience, it won’t matter one jot.

4. Because good UX is good for business

What’s more, people will pay extra for good UX and good copywriting. Trainline is the case in point here. They sell train tickets across Europe through an easy-to-use interface and really smooth UX. They are not a train operator themselves. They just sell train tickets.

And here’s the thing: unlike the operators, Trainline charge a booking fee. So why on earth would people pay for something they could otherwise get for free? Easy. The Trainline UX is much better than the UX of the train operators’ websites. It’s easier to book tickets through Trainline, therefore people will pay a (small) fee for the convenience.

The same principle can be applied to any type of copywriting. Make it as easy as possible for the reader to get the information they’re looking for. Make it as easy as possible for the user to take action. Make it as easy as possible for the reader to reach their goal, and you won’t go too far wrong.

Nick Harland