3 Bottlenecks That Slow Down Your UX Writing Workflow

The top issues that UX Writers experience during the UX writing workflow these days
Tomer Gabbai
October 13, 2019

The emerging position of a UX Writer is at its fullest these days. Companies understand now more than ever that their product’s (and brand’s) voice and tone significantly impacts user experience. Using the right language forms a stronger relationship with the user, increasing their loyalty and engagement with the product and eventually leading to better business results.

A BIG shift is needed

The team here at Frontitude worked for years as part of product teams and we know that the process of UX writing is still not getting the right attention. It’s still cumbersome and slow and involves ping pong with designers over mockups and with developers over Jira tickets. And it requires a lot of copy and paste. Too much of it.

Just like how companies moved from Waterfall to Agile methodology in software development to achieve faster deployments, and just like how designers and developers started to collaborate over Zeplin or Adobe Assets to remove the friction, we know that the UX writing workflow needs the same revolution. And Frontitude’s mission is to bring it to reality.

We’d like to share with you more about the UX writing workflow’s top issues, from the UX Writer perspective, as it’s being done today:

#1 The writer-designer bottleneck

The designer finishes working on a new feature (a new page, component, landing page, etc.), and hands the mockups off the mockups to you (the UX Writer) so you can replace their Lorem Ipsum with the best copy that you can create. If you’re lucky, designers will give you access to their design tool (Figma/Sketch/Invision/Adobe XD, etc.) so you can enter the copy right onto the design. Unfortunately in many teams, this is not the workflow. The UX Writer is not always part of the design team, so they doesn’t have access to their design tools. Also, designers are a bit protective about their tools (we can hear them) in fear that non-designers will mess up their work.

In most teams, designers and writers collaborate over comments, documents, and other off-design communication methods. This shallow collaboration prevents writers from immediately seeing their copy right on the mockup, making them unaware of if their text breaks the design. This ping pong game between writers and designers wastes more time than it should. This game happens on all design changes, and you probably know that design (and copy too) changes many times (at least) before it finds itself implemented, in production.

#2 The writing bottleneck

This one is at the core of your work. In order to come up with the right words for the design, you first have to first follow your company’s Content Style Guide. You want to use a consistent language, the same as used across all of the company’s communication channels (other features, notifications, emails, etc.). If you’re small, it’s pretty easy. But when your company gets bigger and many employees insert copy, it gets harder to follow. Style guides are hard to follow, period. Engineers, for example, have their style guide for every programming language. The only way to follow it properly is to enforce it while they write their code — otherwise, it just won’t work. For example, if you have to label a navigation button, and you can’t remember if you used “My Contacts” or “Your Contacts” in your email notification, you’d like to have the ability to understand how it’s written in all other places in the product, in a fast and efficient way.

Another issue, as we mentioned earlier, is entering a new copy as a comment or in an off-design document (like Word or Google Docs) restricts your ability to pick the right wording that flows with the design. It’s like designing with your eyes closed.

#3 The writer-developer bottleneck

In a utopian world, designers hand off mockups to you (the UX Writer), you add your magical words to the design, and only then do you hand it off to developers. Well, most of the time it just doesn’t work like that. To save time the developer would need the mockups to start with their work, even if it has only Lorem Ipsum as text. Instead of having the ping pong game with the designer, now you have to play it with the developer. And it’s much harder, because of the following: 1. Developers’ attention is more limited, thus they are less tolerant and patient. 2. Developers want to work on their core tasks, such as building a scalable web service or implementing a fast search algorithm. Updating strings is a burden for them, no more than that.


TL;DR

After many years working in product development teams, we at Frontitude realized that the UX writing workflow is simply not efficient. With the rise of UX Writers (👏🏼) and the importance of using the right language in a product, companies need to fix this workflow to improve team velocity and deliver better user experience.

We are currently working to build a tool that will enforce a better UX writing workflow, which eventually will improve user experience and save precious time.

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