Why does this course exist?
Welcome to the UX writing course for localization experts. I'm thrilled to have you here! You being in this course is a huge step towards our goal: Making sure users in all locales and languages get great digital experiences.
I spent years doing old-fashioned software localization. Years of inconsistent strings and boring, technical copy and zero context. You know, the usual.
But then I got the UX bug, and I started writing copy for user experiences – also known as microcopy. That's when I discovered something that blew my mind: It doesn’t have to be that way.
It doesn’t have to be all inconsistent copy and unclear error messages and zero context. We can prevent all those software localization pitfalls – and actually get a seat at the product design table while we’re at it. We just need to learn from UX writers, who did it before us.
The user experience paradigm is all about making sure users get the best possible experience. People in UX have developed methods, best practices, and understandings to ensure that happens. And that’s valid for every language, not just the source one. Working as a UX writer, I learned so much that could have helped me create better-localized copy, too.
But no one ever taught me these principles, and most translators I spoke with didn't know about them either. That's why I'm excited to share what I've learned with you in this course book.
By the end of this course, I hope to see two things happening:
First, you'll have the knowledge and skills to write great localized UX copy. It’ll help you level up your localization game and give your local users a fantastic experience 🎉
Second, you'll understand the value of great UX writing in localization – and be an advocate for having a closer relationship between these two worlds.
I can't wait to go on this journey with you. Thank you for taking the time to be here.
Who is this course for?
This course is perfect for anyone in the localization industry who wants to level up their skills and learn how to create amazing experiences in every language and for every audience.
Are you a linguist? Great! We'll be discussing how to make good choices as we localize and how to write clear and culturally relevant copy.
Or maybe you're a localization manager, whether in-house or external? You want to understand what to expect of your linguists – and how to communicate with product teams in a way that's valuable and effective. This course is for you too.
And let's not forget about LSPs. You'll learn how to be a better liaison, how to work with product teams, and how to guide linguists as they create intuitive, natural content that supports users through the experience.
Whether you're a seasoned localizer or just starting out, this course is designed for you. No prior knowledge is needed. We'll cover the basic terms and have assignments to help you put your newfound knowledge into action.
By the end of this course, you'll know how to write great localized UX copy and understand the value of great UX writing in localization.
Why should localizers learn UX writing?
1. Localizers are UX writers, just in another language
Creating great content is essential for a great user experience. Usually, that's where UX writing comes in. By focusing on the language and wording used in digital interfaces, UX writers create content that supports the users and the product’s goals.
But here’s the thing: When you localize a product, you’re writing UX copy too. And you have to take into account two languages – quite a massive thing to consider. I'm not saying this to discourage you, but to let you know that you have a unique and special skill that not many people possess.
2. UX localization makes good business sense
Companies have long discovered the value of UX writing, learning that it can have a significant positive impact on their metrics. There are countless examples:
GrooveHQ managed to reduce their churn rate by 71% with UX writing
Preply increased the number of hours bought on their platform by 8%
And according to a Forrester report, every dollar invested in UX brings an average of 100 dollars in return, resulting in an ROI of an impressive 9,900 percent.
This led to an incredible demand for UX writers and content designers – in every possible sector. And now, companies are starting to see that those who translate their copy also need that UX writing knowledge. They understand that this could have a big impact on their business results. And they're starting to look for localizers with that UX expertise.
So, if you want to be a UX localizer, this course is for you.
Together, we'll explore the principles of UX writing and learn how they can be applied in your language to create the best possible user experiences.
After completing this course, you'll be able to create a unique local version of the client's tone of voice, write copy that won't just be a replica of the English, and ask the right questions to create copy that actually serves the goals of the product. These are all things that can help you position yourself as a top-level professional. And with the growing demand for localizers with UX expertise, it’s a truly valuable skill that can set you apart in the market.
Convinced already? In that case, let's dive in and see what being a UX localizer actually means.
Intro to UX
What is UX copy?
The term "UX" in UX copy stands for User Experience. This includes all the visual, audio, and textual elements people interact with while using digital products. Naturally, UX copy (or microcopy) refers to the text that shapes or enhances that user experience.
For example, when you use an app, UX copy includes all the tiny texts you see and interact with. From the text on buttons, to the messages that pop up, to the descriptions of features - it's all part of UX copy. And yes, we're essentially talking about words. But these aren't just any words - they're important words with a superpower. They help guide users in the right direction, provide them with necessary information, and tell them what they need to do.
The most popular products in the world, from Slack and airbnb to Spotify and Stripe, use UX copy in every aspect of their product to provide their users with the best experience possible. We encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of UX copy every day without even noticing. The next time you use a digital product, try to pay attention to the words on the screen and how they're helping you accomplish your goals.
Let me tell you about Paul.
Paul wakes up in the morning, groggy and tired, and hits the orange Snooze button on his alarm clock. This seems simple enough, but a lot of work went into making sure Paul understands what the button does (even when he's half-asleep). If Paul were to hit the wrong button and fall back asleep, he might not wake up on time, which is obviously not good.
So the writers had to find a way to make it clear without using too much text. They came up with "Snooze" - short, sweet, and to the point. Which means Paul wakes up on time – a win by all accounts.
Now, when Paul is fully awake, he logs into his social media accounts, reading through countless pieces of microcopy. From Facebook’s “What's on your mind” and "Like" to Instagram’s “Follow” and "Share." These words may seem insignificant, but someone put careful thought into every single one.
Even when Paul takes an Uber to work or reads the news on his phone, there's more copy - "Where to?" "Set pickup location," "Top stories," and "Updated 20 minutes ago." All these phrases are there for a reason, carefully crafted to provide the best user experience possible.
UX copy is everywhere
It's on your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and even on the McDonald's self-service screens.
It might seem like a small thing, but every little piece of text you see is carefully crafted to help you, guide you, and provide you with important information.
And the thing about good UX copy is that you hardly notice it when you read it. When UX copy is done well, it's seamless and unnoticeable. Its main purpose is to make your experience easy, convenient, and useful.
But when something goes wrong, that's when you really see the importance of UX copy. If something is unclear or awkwardly phrased – that’s when you start to notice it. It pops out when you start making mistakes, or when you have to focus and read it again to fully comprehend what it means.
UX is usability in practice
As a UX writer, I've learned that usability is the science of making things easy and convenient to use. And it's not just a buzzword - improving the user experience of digital products like software and apps can really change people's lives for the better.
Good usability means that people can use the product without getting frustrated or confused. This can give a company an edge over their competition, with users raving about how convenient and enjoyable this product is. Plus, companies can use UX writing to guide users towards specific actions, such as making a purchase or upgrading their accounts.
But the value of usability doesn't stop there. It can also make a dramatic impact for social issues, such as minimizing social gaps and providing essential services and information to marginalized people. For example, improving the user experience for a digital government service can help senior citizens, those who don't read well, or people with mental disabilities to access critical information and services they need.
Usability can even save lives. For example, improving the usability of public defibrillators by making the instructions clear and simple can help non-medical personnel save lives in emergency situations.
Overall, the value of UX is widely recognized and even cities are investing in improving the user experience of public services for their citizens. As a UX writer, I'm excited to contribute to this important work and make a positive impact on people's lives.
Have you ever wondered how your favorite digital products became so easy to use? That's because of the field of UX - usability in practice.
UX experts dedicate their days to making products more user-friendly, intuitive, and simple to use. And as translators localizing digital products, we need to keep usability in mind just as much as the rest of the team.
Usability is a crucial part of product design these days. What's the point of designing a product if users can't figure out how to use it? But making a product usable is not an easy task. There's a lot to consider, and it takes a lot of work to make a great user experience.
Sometimes the goal is to make a profit, but other times the goal is much higher. For example, UX can change lives, minimize social gaps, and provide essential services and information to marginalized people. In the end, it's all about making products easier, simpler, and more intuitive for everyone to use.
Some key terms
Before we dive any deeper into UX and localization, there are a few key terms that you should be familiar with. Understanding these terms is essential to making sure we're all on the same page and speaking the same language.
Don't worry if you're new to UX or the tech industry - these concepts can be a bit intimidating at first, but I'll do my best to explain them in simple terms. By the end of this section, you'll have a solid foundation to build upon as we move forward in the course.
In the context of digital products and UX design, "users" are the individuals who interact with a product or service, such as an app, website, or software.
Users have unique experiences, preferences, and needs, which are shaped by their demographic details, personal circumstances, and previous experiences.
Product teams study and analyze their users to identify common themes, preferences, and problems to address in order to create a better and more tailored experience for them.
A "problem" refers to an unmet need, pain point, or challenge faced by users in their daily lives. Problems can vary in scale and significance, from minor inconveniences to significant barriers that impact users' lives. Identifying and understanding these problems is essential for creating products or features that provide genuine value and solutions for users.
A successful product addresses a problem that is both common enough to affect a substantial number of users and significant enough that people are willing to invest time, effort, or resources to solve it. By focusing on solving real problems, product teams can create solutions that have a meaningful impact on users' lives and, in turn, generate value for the company.
A "product" refers to a solution created to address a specific problem or set of problems faced by users. This solution can take various forms, such as an app, a piece of software, a website, or a digital service.
A product's primary purpose is to enhance users' lives by offering a convenient, valuable, and effective way to tackle the issues they face. To be successful, a product must address a genuine problem that a significant number of users experience and provide a solution that is unique, accessible, and easy to use.
The interface is a crucial part of the overall user experience, as it is the point of interaction between the user and the product. It refers to the visual elements and components of a product that users interact with.
When we use a digital product, we interact with its "user interface" or "UI". UI refers to the visual elements of a product, like the layout, color, and fonts. It's what we see and touch when we use a product.
The goal of interface design (often called UI design, short for 'user interface') is to create a visually appealing, functional, and accessible interface that matches the product's branding and is convenient for users to navigate and interact with. An effective interface plays a significant role in ensuring that the product provides a consistent and satisfying solution to the users' problems.
Microcopy, also known as UX copy, refers to the pieces of text included within a digital product's interface that guide, inform, or assist users as they interact with the product.
Microcopy can be found in button labels, tooltips, error messages, form field labels, and other areas where concise and clear text helps users understand the product and complete tasks more efficiently.
Good microcopy improves usability, enhances user experience, and can contribute to the overall satisfaction and success of the product. When localizing a product, the microcopy must be accurately translated to ensure the same effectiveness and quality of the solution in the target language as it was in the original language.
A feature, in the context of a digital product, refers to a specific functionality or component that serves a particular purpose and enhances the overall user experience.
In the clock app example, features include a timer, a stopwatch, an alarm, and a clock showing time in different locations. New features, such as a sleep tracking tab, may be added to improve the product and offer additional value to users.
Localizing features involves translating and adapting them for different languages and cultures while maintaining consistency across the entire product. This can be challenging due to the ongoing addition and modification of features and the fact that translators often work on multiple products, making it difficult to ensure uniformity and a cohesive user experience.
Addressing these challenges is crucial to creating a successful localized product that offers a consistent experience for users across all features and languages.
When you use a product, you interact with different "screens".
A screen is what you see on your phone or computer when you use a product. It's like a page or a window that shows you information, buttons, and images.
Sometimes, you can do everything you need to do on one screen. But other times, when you click on a button, it takes you to another screen where you can do something else.
As a UX writer, I always have to think about what the user saw before and what they will see next, to make sure that the text on the screen is clear and easy to understand.
When we create a product, we want to make sure it's easy to use and helpful to our users. That's where the "user journey" comes in.
The user journey is the path that our users take when they interact with our product. It's like a roadmap of all the screens, actions, and decisions a user will go through to reach their goal.
As UX writers, we have to keep the user journey in mind when we write the copy for each screen. We need to make sure our words guide the user along the journey and help them achieve their goal.
We’re going to use Cassy's story to see how these concepts work in practice.
Cassy has a dog and needs to book a vet appointment. Lucky for her, the clinic has an app that she can use to book her appointment. This is how she does it:
She opens the app and taps the "Log in" button on the home screen to start. Then, she enters her email and password into the fields and taps "log in" to finish this step
Once she's logged in, she needs to find a vet. Cassy taps the "Find vet" button, and the app shows her a list of vets to choose from. She scrolls through the list until she finds the one she usually visits and taps the "Book" button.
Now, Cassy needs to book the appointment. She scrolls through the available time slots and chooses a time that works for her. When she finds a time that works, she taps "Book" and then confirms the visit by tapping "confirm" in the popup. That's it, Cassy's done.
While this is a simple user journey with only three steps, it still requires several actions and a lot of UX copy to guide Cassy. The goal of this journey is to get Cassy to book a visit. As UX writers, we need to ensure that the microcopy is clear and instructive enough to help Cassy find her way.
However, we also need to consider the state of mind Cassy is in when she uses the app. She might be worried about her dog's health, so we need to avoid being too dramatic or pushy with the copy. If we do, Cassy might think that the vet isn't qualified or that the visit will be too stressful. She might even decide to book an appointment with another vet. We don't want that to happen, so our copy should also be calming and confident.
Our goals and brand values guide our copy choices, both when we're writing the copy and when we're localizing it. We need to consider these factors whenever we touch any type of UX copy.
Your role in the process
You are the hero your users need
Think of yourself as a protector, like a knight or a superhero, fighting against bad UX to create better experiences for your local users.
Creating good UX isn't just a buzzword, it can have a real impact on people's lives.
By helping companies create good UX, you can make a difference for your local audience, and that's a vital role to have.
Don't hesitate to ask questions and demand information from the product team. The user experience is crucial to the success of the product, and you're doing both the team and the users a huge favor by collecting all the necessary information to make the right copy choices.
If something in the source copy doesn't feel like it will work for your audience, speak up. If you think a certain idea or message could be offensive or strange, it's important to voice your concerns.
Remember, you are the hero your users need, and your mission is to create the best possible localized experience for them.
Intro to UX