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How to add a UX writer to your team
Every design team needs a UX writer — but what's the best way to add one to your team?
How’s it going? Lots of things have happened since the last time I wrote — this newsletter has grown to over 1,300 subscribers and I’m getting close to 30,000 followers on Twitter!
This is incredibly exciting — it shows there’s real interest in UX writing and how we can all use language in design. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to write this newsletter, but I’m planning to send them more often.
Perhaps you noticed that this email looks a bit different than the last one. Revue (the newsletter service I used) was recently shut down by Twitter, so I moved to Substack. Hopefully they’ll stick around for longer 🤞
Anyway — let’s get on with the newsletter. Thanks for reading and talk soon!
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As a UX writer and content designer, I often get asked how I function within a company or team. Because most people haven’t worked with a UX writer before, it can be hard to imagine how they fit in.
The answer is that it depends on the team you’re working with.
After leaving my job at The Next Web 6 years ago, I started freelancing for all kinds of clients, working with teams at large corporations like Minecraft (Microsoft) and Spotify, but also small startups and scale-ups.
Over the years I’ve noticed that the size of the company and the way it’s structured changes how they collaborate with UX writers, and that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Let’s go through some of the ways I’ve seen companies successfully integrate UX writers and content designers in their organization — and let’s figure out what might work best for you.
Full integration in a team
In some companies, UX writers are integrated directly into the design or product team, working alongside product managers, UX/UI designers, and developers. These teams generally take on projects together — PMs organize the work, designers think of the visual layout and user flows, and developers handle technical implementation. As a vital part of the design team, a UX writer adds a unique perspective that can help solve problems with language.
Having a UX writer as a full-time team member has lots of benefits — it allows for constant communication, faster feedback loops, and easier collaboration on creating a seamless user experience. Another benefit of full integration is that the writer is always there from the very beginning of a project, which means they aren’t just adding copy at a later stage — they’re actually influencing the entire design process from the start.
If your company has multiple design teams, they would benefit from each having a UX writer — this helps maintain consistency in language and user experience throughout the entire organization.
Perhaps your company is structured in a way that a full-time UX writer on every team doesn’t make sense, or perhaps you simply don’t have the budget to hire that many people.
In this case, a great alternative would be to hire a UX writer as a central role. This person wouldn’t be on a specific team, but would instead connect to different people across the company as needed.
In this setup, the UX writer acts as a liaison and expert resource, working with various teams to ensure a cohesive and user-centric approach to all design writing. They collaborate with designers, product managers, developers, and other stakeholders to create, review, and optimize copy across the company.
As a central role, the UX writer will need strong organizational skills to juggle multiple projects at the same time, proactively keeping in touch with the various stakeholders to make sure everything gets done. On the other hand, the one-to-many aspect of this model can help with building a consistent brand voice across the company’s products, as well as making others in the company’s design organization aware of the importance of UX writing.
Not every company has a multi-million budget for design operations. While I would argue it’s critical to have a UX writer on your team as early as possible, that’s simply not always possible.
For these types of companies, a UX writer could be brought in on a temporary basis to provide guidance and support on specific projects. This allows the organization to benefit from their expertise without committing to a full-time position.
By leveraging a UX writer’s skills for a limited amount of time, these companies can still ensure their products and services are user-centric and well-designed. A temporary hire can work closely with the in-house design team, helping to fine-tune language, optimize user flows, and create clear, concise content that resonates with their target audience.
Exploring other options
The way UX writers collaborate with others in a company depends on the team structure, company size, and specific needs. While the above collaboration models are very common, it might make sense to come up with a custom model to account for the specific needs of your organization.
Regardless of the setup, effective communication and collaboration are essential for a team to fully focus on creating the best possible user experience, so make sure to figure out which setup works best for you.
UX writing highlights
While I usually share my favorite examples of top-notch UX writing in this section, I’m making an exception today.
While this is obviously hilarious, it also goes to show how important it is to have a UX writer on your team.
There are ways around a design problem like this, like changing the copy to “Mark as read” or creating a different design that makes it more obvious that “Mark read” is a button linked to an action. The problem could have potentially been identified (and solved) at an early stage by a writer with an eye for design.
That’s it for this issue — thanks for reading all the way to the end! Let me know what you think by replying to this email or sending me a DM on Twitter.