Five tips for success as a solo UX writer

Megan O’Neill

People working together while pointing at a laptop screen.

Five tips for setting yourself up as a solo UX writer

I’m still new to this. But a few things, in particular, have helped me in my first eight months as a new UX writer at Codecademy. I’ve rounded them up here, along with some resources I found helpful.

Tip #1: Get to know the team

UX writing is a very cross-functional and collaborative job. You’ll likely be working with designers, product managers, engineers, and even marketers. To set yourself up for successful collaboration, it’s so so so important to start with getting to know the team.

Thumbnail image for a FigJam template for New UX Writer Info-Gathering Sessions, featuring post-its with the words get to know your new team.
  • Have you worked with a UX writer before?
  • If yes, how and when did you involve them in your projects?
  • Were there any helpful resources they provided you with?
  • How have you dealt with UX copy for your projects without a UX writer on the team? Reflect on process, stakeholders, approval, or anything else that comes to mind!
  • What things do you like about UX writing? What’s gone well?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with UX writing?
  • Are there any existing problems or points of confusion for our users that you’ve come across that you believe UX writing can help solve?
  • What upcoming projects are on your team’s roadmap that could benefit from UX writing support?
  • What processes do you currently have in place for requests and for working with designers and/or product teams?
  • What has worked well?
  • What areas are you working to improve?
  • How might we work together?
  • Are there any areas in your world that you think might benefit from UX writing?
Image of a FigJam template that includes sections for participants to add stickies related to past experience and the current state of UX writing.

Tip #2: Document your intake process

As the only UX writer on a team of designers, product managers, and engineers, things can get hectic fast. Taking time early on to create and document your intake process can help you stay organized.

Form for submitting UX writing support requests. The form asks for project details and relevant details about the problem the request is solving for users.
  • Relevant links, including product briefs and applicable research
  • A requested completion date
  • The product squad the request came from (for tracking purposes)
  • Relevant business KPIs (for prioritization)
UX writing tasks kanban board in Notion that includes tasks within Not Started, In Progress, and Complete columns.

Tip #3: Show the team how to work with you

Odds are that at least some of the designers, product managers, and engineers you’re working with have never worked with a UX writer before. So it’s also important, as part of your process, to help them understand how they can work with you.

Tip #4: Equip the team to write better UI copy on their own

Once the requests start rolling in, you’ll quickly realize that as the only UX writer on the team, you won’t be able to do it all. But that’s ok! You can set the team up for success writing on their own by documenting and sharing best practices.

Component guidelines in the UX writing section of Gamut, Codecademy’s design system, with guidance listed for alerts, bell notifications, buttons and links, and confirmation dialogs.

Tip #5: Learn from the community

You may be the lone UX writer on the team, but you aren’t alone. There’s a thriving (and very welcoming) community of content designers and UX writers out there. They’ve shared advice in books, they host inspiring conferences and events, and they connect over various Slack communities.

  • UX Writing Fundamentals course from UX Content Collective: In the weeks leading up to my transition from marketing to design, I was dealing with some serious imposter syndrome. The course material helped me feel prepared to work on a design team.
  • Strategic Writing for UX by Torrey Podmajersky: The 30/60/90 day plan at the end of Torrey’s book was instrumental in my approach to starting out at Codecademy. If you haven’t read this book, it’s a must.
  • Writing Is Designing by Michael J. Metts & Andy Welfle: This book does a phenomenal job of outlining UX writing as a design discipline and shedding light on how UX writers and product designers should collaborate. It serves as super helpful context for explaining the role of UX writing to colleagues that may be less familiar.
  • Content + UX community on Slack: This community of UX writers and content designers is thriving. The advice, frameworks, and experience that members of this space have shared with me have been priceless.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store