“One and done” describes a lot of things—but writing isn’t one of them. As any writer knows, rarely does the final copy resemble the first draft. And with UX writing in particular, even more moving pieces need to come together, which means that there can be a lot of stops between the first words to the final text on the screen.
After speaking to over 100 teams of designers and UX writers, we put together guidelines to help you streamline the approval process, so you can take your copy from rough draft to final version with the minimal back and forth.
Before you start sending documents off for review and approval, take some time to organize everything so you’re not just handing your teammates screenshots and leaving them to figure them out on their own. Provide the context of the UX copy and any constraints that you had to consider when drafting the copy, such as design limitations or legal requirements. Gather all the materials in one place, including any necessary background information, and define exactly what needs to be reviewed, without any extras. Make it easy for reviewers to find what exactly you’re asking for their feedback on.
We recommend taking a cue from developers here. With changes often made to lots of different pieces of code or files, they use “pull requests” to group changes across files in one place and include a description. The single grouping in the “pull request” makes it easy for them to share it with the rest of the team and get focused feedback, while preventing certain changes from slipping in and giving teams a more complete picture of the evolution of their code.
It’s UX writers’ job to live and breathe UX copy, brand voice, and terminology. In contrast, other stakeholders at your organization are unlikely to notice that you used “Select” here and “Choose” there, certainly not when you just tag them in a Google Doc and ask them to review it.
To help out your reviewers, don’t just flag the new copy and call it a day. Be sure to note the motivation behind each new piece of copy or change, including background, feedback, and any nuances provided by stakeholders. For example: 1) Share a link to the specific section in your style guide that explains the motivation for a specific tone, 2) Include a link to the Jira ticket that describes the functionality in more detail, or 3) Provide more detailed information about the specific portion of the user journey in which this copy appears. With all the different perspectives recorded in one place, you’ll have an easier and faster time handing it off for approval (and getting it).
Before you dive into the approvals, have a game plan on who will be reviewing the content. Spell out an order and a timeframe so you don’t accidentally miss anyone or any deadlines.
For example, you may want to run it by the legal team to make sure you’re not crossing any lines or by the customer success team to check that it addresses the concerns they keep hearing from customers. Depending on your company or your industry, there may be other teammates or stakeholders who can offer important feedback on the UX copy. Consider who needs to see the work ahead of time and keep a list so you’re not scrambling to squeeze in extra approvals at crunchtime.
“Hey, can you take a look at this quickly?” When you’re already communicating in Slack, Google Docs, and email, it can be tempting just to “shoot” something off to your boss or colleague for review. But that’s a recipe for crossed communication channels, lack of clarity over the latest version, and probably lots of digging through messages later on.
Instead pick a single communication channel for the whole approval process and make sure everyone who is part of it knows about it, so there’s a paper trail and nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Whether you choose Frontitude, a main Google Doc, or a single Slack channel, if it’s all recorded in one place, you’re a lot less likely to miss a comment or find yourself combing through versions to locate the latest one.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again (probably forever): Copy and design are two sides of the same coin; for a product to succeed in terms of UX, both need to be aligned—and everyone needs to understand that. Be sure to provide all reviewers with the full context. Instead of sharing a spreadsheet or document, show them the actual screens, with both the copy and design, so that they understand how the two work together and any constraints.
When UX writers or content designers use a tool like Frontitude, they have everything they need right in front of them. And when it comes to the approval process, they can also give their approvers full context, rather than sending plain-text Google Docs through multiple levels of approval only to have to redo the copy or design later on.
In the UX writing process, approval is often treated as ad hoc—since it’s short, you can just run it by your team lead or manager and call it a day, no? But if your approval process is planned out thoughtfully, with consideration for the people and communication channels involved, it can make everything go a lot smoother and faster, with no extra work.
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