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Truth: In a world that's more connected than ever, language barriers shouldn't stand in the way. We want everyone to be able to benefit from the incredible tech available, no matter the language they speak.
Essentially, that’s where localization experts come in, right? We swoop in like caped heroes. Armed with translation superpowers and ginormous cups of coffee, we make it happen so that apps, websites, software - are available to everyone who speak our language.
But here's the thing.
This is the age of automatic machine translation. Soon (if not today), humans will no longer be needed to just move words from one language to the other. Bots can do that, and they can do it faster and cheaper.
You’re skeptic, right? “Ah, those bloody bots… they’ll never write as well as I can. It’s ridiculous!”
For digital user experiences, bots will never write as well as humans - as long as those humans know what they’re doing.
Writing for digital experiences – apps, software, UI in general – is complicated. The words we get for translation are just the teeny tiny tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface, there are countless hours of discussions and piles of information. The people who first create the source copy – called UX writers – work based on data-proven methodologies to create copy that does its job.
But once the source copy is created, it’s sent out for translation. The people who translate the copy are also UX writers. With two differences:
They do it in another language
They don’t know how to UX write
Except for very few people, translators don’t know UX writing. Even though they write copy for user experiences every single day.
Today, this changes.
In this article, we're going to dive deep into the world of UX writing to learn why it's a superpower that every localization expert should have.
So, whether you're a localization expert wanting to level up your game or just a curious person wondering what the fuss is all about, stick around. By the time we're done, you'll be itching to sprinkle some UX writing magic into your localization efforts.
What is UX writing?
UX writing, or User Experience writing, is the art of creating user-friendly interfaces that speak the users' language. UX writers create clear, concise, and user-centric text dedicated to helping users achieve their goals (all while helping companies achieve some goals through those users, too).
UX writing ensures that the words on your website or app not only make sense, but guide users smoothly through their journey. It's like a trusty GPS system, gently nudging users in the right direction without making them want to throw their device out the window.
When done well, good UX copy can even go the extra mile, adding a touch of personality and charm. This helps companies create stronger, emotional connections with users – ones that last longer, promote trust, and make all interactions more effective.
Imagine a world where error messages don't send users into a fit of rage, but rather calm them and help them solve the problem. Or a world where button labels are so convincing that users simply have no reason not to click them. That is the power of UX writing.
That makes UX writing a key to unlocking the full potential of a product. And when localized properly, it helps companies make the most out of their localized products, too. And YOU have the power to help them do that.
When words make or break the experience
Let's put UX writing under the microscope and examine some real-life examples. These case studies will show you the good, the bad, and the creative side of UX writing – and how it can make or break a user's experience (no pressure).
Good UX writing: A warm welcome and a guiding hand
Imagine you’re signing up to an app. You enter your name and email and then… you get this screen.
Yes, it’s technically an explanation, but it’s:
Stiff, dry, technical, and impersonal
Not very clear (doesn’t really explain what you need to do)
Heavy with redundant information (who knows or cares what a one-time password is?)
If you’re a savvy internet user, you probably already know what to do.
But if you’re…
An older person
Someone with low technical abilities
Someone who doesn’t use the internet much
Someone with visual accessibility issues
You’ll have trouble figuring out how to proceed.
But what if you get this text, instead?
See? This one is
Super clear (tells you exactly what to do)
Phrased in a way that’s friendly and approachable
Contains only important information
Pre-troubleshoots two very common issue (email landing in spam and clicking the link from another device)
This means that this screen from Substack Reader is much more usable than the one from Audible - thanks to the copy and the way it’s phrased.
Not convinced? Let’s see another example.
You download an app, decide to upgrade, and make a payment. And you get this confirmation screen.
This screen tells you it worked, and you’ve upgraded… But there’s nothing else. No excitement. No brand relationship. No reinforcement that you made the right decision.
Wonder do it differently:
Congratulating you for the choice you made
Reinforcing it by calling you “pro” and telling you you’re going to “enjoy”
Showing + creating excitement with their “Let’s go!” button
It’s just a few words, but it makes a huge difference in the way users will feel when they see this screen.
Get the impact? Good UX copy makes a significant difference - which is why companies invest in it. More and more companies are hiring UX writers worldwide.
Why should localization experts care about UX writing?
First, it’s fascinating, especially for wordy people like us. But there are more reasons why localizers should learn about UX writing.
To stay in demand
Let's face it – with the rise of AI, non-specialized professionals may find themselves gradually replaced by machines. They work faster and get increasingly better at it over time. So to stay relevant and in demand, you need to adapt and upskill. That's where mastering UX writing comes in.
By adding UX writing to your arsenal, you become a linguistic superhero who can tackle both localization and crafting user experiences, making you indispensable in the industry.
To collaborate well and get respect
Regardless of whether you're a freelancer or an in-house localization expert, a crucial part of your job – if you’re localizing UI copy – involves working closely with product teams.
These teams include designers, developers, UX writers, and more. They’re all working hard to create a seamless user experience. But if you want to get a real seat at the table, get treated like a professional and have their respect, you need to be able to speak their language.
Having a firm grasp of UX writing concepts and terminology will allow you to communicate clearly and effectively with product teams. And when you show you truly understand their goals and the way they work, you’ll get a chance to share your ideas, provide input, and get your feedback taken seriously.
To create better experiences
As a localization expert, you already possess a valuable skill: bridging language gaps and making digital content globally accessible. But let's be honest, translation alone is no longer enough to impress users. You need to widen your skillset to create copy that's not just linguistically accurate but also makes for a great experience.
UX writing enables you to create digital experiences that resonate with users on a deeper level. By mastering the art of crafting clear, concise, and culturally relevant copy, you can make localized interfaces feel more natural and user-friendly.
Where can localizers learn UX writing?
The good news is that there's no shortage of courses and resources to choose from. Whether you're seeking a comprehensive paid course or just dipping your toes into the world of free resources, there's something for everyone.
Here are a few options to get you started:
1. Paid courses:
Localization Station's UX Writing course for localizers: Currently the only course designed specifically for localization professionals, this course offers a comprehensive tailored program to mastering UX writing skills, with a focus on adapting content for different languages and cultures. It’s great for localizers who want a deep dive into the UX writing skills relevant to their work, but prefer to skip additional skills they don’t need.
UX Writing Hub's Academy: This course provides a thorough overview of UX writing principles, with modules covering everything from the basics to more advanced techniques. They have a highly-recommended mentorship plan with plenty of opportunities to learn from real-life UX writers and experience the work they do.
UX Content Collective Fundamentals Course: Another option for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of UX writing, this course covers a wide range of topics and includes hands-on exercises and projects. It’s an online course that’s self-paced, so you can take it on your own time.
2. Free courses
Localization Station's Free Email Mini-Course: Get a taste of UX writing for localizers with this email-based mini-course, which delivers bite-sized lessons straight to your inbox. You get 7 lessons delivered through email, and it’s completely free.
UXcel's Free UX Writing Course: This comprehensive course provides a solid foundation in UX writing principles and practices, giving you the tools you need to create engaging, user-friendly digital experiences. The UXcel course covers a range of topics designed to help you understand the ins and outs of UX writing.
UX Writer in 15 days: This unique and engaging email-based course delivers a fresh UX writing prompt straight to your inbox every day for 15 days, helping you build your skills and confidence one step at a time. By tackling a new UX writing task each day, you'll not only learn the core principles and techniques of UX writing but also practice applying them to real-world scenarios.
In addition to these courses and resources, don't forget the value of networking and joining online communities. Engage with fellow localizers, UX writers, and other professionals in the field to share knowledge, ask questions, and gain valuable insights. As you dive into the world of UX writing, you'll discover a wealth of learning opportunities that will help you become a more versatile and in-demand localization expert.
p.s. Did you know we have a Slack community for UX localization? Join right here – and don't forget to join the relevant language-specific channels, too. Can't wait to see you there!
UX Writing for localizers: A game-changing skill you need to learn now
Learn all about the valuable skill of UX writing, and how mastering this art can transform your localization career
Michal Kessel Shitrit