The UX writing process
UX writing is design. A UX writer designs with words and content architecture. We’re all aiming for the same goal: a great user experience that aligns with the company’s overall vision and business strategy. That’s why a good UX writing process begins with discovery.
Discovery
With any new feature, a business case must be made for its creation. Every member of a design team needs to understand the business case, including the UX writer. Otherwise, the intended mission, market, and problem won’t be addressed by every aspect of the feature.
Competitive analyses that involve writers highlight the terminology and structure flows that other companies in the industry are using. Writers can then determine if they need to stay consistent with the industry to accommodate the user’s mental model or if it can be improved upon.
Building the flow
When I gave a UX writing workshop to our design team at Cisco, I called this section “The designing (with content in mind).” It’s all about asking more questions. These are a small sample of the types of questions writers ask themselves when designing a flow:
- What’s the purpose of this information? What does the user need to know?
- What’s the required sequence of information on the screen? Why?
- Is this flow of information accessible?
- Does the design allow for localization expansion?
- How many things does this one-button do? (Both through function and user needs)
- Can we define this element? Is there anything else that shares a similar definition?

The words
Now comes the writing part of UX writing. I break this up into 6 steps, which I like to call the Big Rocket Department (if only just because I like space). BRDEPT: Brainstorm, Research, Draft, Edit, Proofread, Test. Always in that order, with some loops back if necessary.
Brainstorming
- Quickly writing out every idea for the copy, good or bad
- Great for more creative pieces of copy, like headlines for feature announcements
- Also helpful for tricky technical stuff, where you need to explain a difficult concept in simple words
- Can work for any piece of copy
Research
- Looking at competitors and similar types of apps to find the common approach to a scenario
- Great for seeing what vocabulary the industry is using
- Looking at other products within our own company to see what our current users are used to
- Great for keeping brand consistency and avoiding double-work
Drafting
- Quickly writing copy to get an overview of a flow
- Sketching with words
- Meant to be imperfect
- Different from brainstorming, in that you’re not focusing on a single point of copy
Editing
- Checking and correcting points of confusion, areas for improvement in the design, and issues with accessibility, localization/globalization, terminology, and brand voice/tone
Proofreading
- Checking and correcting use of contractions, grammar and spelling errors, casing errors, and punctuation errors
Testing
- User testing
- A/B testing
- Great for finding blind spots and trying different pieces of copy to see which works best
After-words
After the feature is sent out into the world, there’s still work to be done for the UX writer. QA, measuring results, and adjusting copy ensures that all the work done during the design process actually meant something.
Without QA, poor implementation may go unnoticed, and the user perception of your brand may fall because of typos and robotic error messages. Measuring results like number of clicks or support calls helps writers learn if their work led to the intended outcome. Then they can adjust the design if needed. Without these steps, a UX writer works in the dark and no one knows if their presence is helping or hurting.
Many companies assume the UX writer’s role is limited to the Draft, Edit, and Proofread stages. However, when a UX writer unlocks the rest of the process, the user experience improves tenfold. You’ll begin to notice better information architecture, clearer copy overall, and a more cohesive brand narrative.
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