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UX essentials


UX writing takes place in the context of product design or UX/UI design. In order to fully grasp the art of UX writing and microcopy, you’ll need to have an understanding of the basic concepts and terminology used in this field. 

So let’s look at some essential terms.

You probably know that UX is short for user experience. This represents the overall experience someone has when interacting with your website, app, product, or service.

This experience usually takes place on a user interface, or UI for short. These are the graphical spaces where interactions between the user and the app happen. 

User interfaces are found all around us — on websites, mobile applications, and other digital products. For example, you may interact with a menu on a smart TV or a touchscreen kiosk. These are also digital products with interface and microcopy, and they need UX Writers too!

 But just who interacts with the microcopy in these digital products? We call this the “end-user” or just “user” for short.  

Now, I have to say, even though this term is standard in the industry, it’s really not my favorite. It’s important to remember that our users are PEOPLE, so make sure you think of them that way and not just as faceless, nameless users.
And when we think about the people using our digital products, we need to consider their pain points.

Pain points are any problems that the user faces — hopefully problems that your app or website will be able to solve for them. For example, if someone needs to find a date, that’s a pain point that Tinder’s product team can solve. 

This is when an end-user carries out a desired task, like registering for the service, joining a newsletter, filling out a form, or buying something, like upgrading to Tinder Premium. 

Now, in order to talk about what goes on inside a user interface, we need to understand what they’re composed of. So let’s look at some of the most common UX/UI elements that UX writers write microcopy for.

We have four major elements that account for the bulk of the copy in a user interface. The first element is the headline. Headlines are usually large, bold texts whose job is to grab the user’s attention and introduce the page’s key information. They should be short, easily digestible, and give the user meaningful information about the content of the page or screen.

Next, UX writers and designers often make use of subheadlines. These are short, scannable phrases that help the user understand if the content of the page or screen is relevant to them. Subheaders will generally expand upon the information presented in the headline.

Then there’s body copy, or body text — usually a block of text that presents the user with the screen’s message in greater detail. This could be a sentence, a paragraph, or even a bit more.

Finally, we have CTAs or calls-to-action. CTAs are those small pieces of microcopy that invite the user to take some action within the digital product. They’re usually found on a button, but not always. Think of things like “subscribe now” or “get started.” 

There are many more terms in the field of UX and many more UI elements as well. But this short list should give you a solid foundation.