8 Writing Tips to Supercharge the Quality of Your UX Work

Top Tips to Impress a web design client

Content material is king—and the way you write your content material is essential. Any UX designer price their salt wants to write successfully, whether or not it’s case research in your UX design portfolio or copy in your product. Need to be a greater designer? Learn on!

Listed here are 8 sensible writing suggestions that can considerably enhance your UX work:

  1. Use the inverted pyramid to state your details first.
  2. Be concrete and stroll down the ladder of abstraction.
  3. Write energetic sentences for a better learn.
  4. Kill your filler phrases.
  5. Combine brief and lengthy sentences for selection.
  6. Use bullet factors and numbered lists to assist readers skim.
  7. Spotlight key phrases.
  8. Use plain English.

Be sure you learn until the very finish, as a result of we’ll provide you with a free cheatsheet to obtain which comprises all 8 suggestions!

Tip 1: Use the Inverted Pyramid to State Your Fundamental Factors First

Let’s get straight to the level—the inverted pyramid is a writing model the place you point out the most vital data first. Journalists use this model to ship important bits of a narrative first (the who, when, what, the place and why), earlier than they dive into the relaxation of the particulars.

In an inverted pyramid, we give readers the most vital data first to assist them perceive sooner. Writer / copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and the Interplay Design Basis. Copyright phrases and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

We name it the inverted pyramid as a result of we put key data—the “broad base” of the story—at the prime. We then add finer and finer particulars as we transfer in direction of the finish.

That is opposed to the commonplace pyramid model, which lecturers usually use to construct an argument. In that model, we current the downside assertion first, then we record our particulars and observations which lead to a conclusion at the finish.

Many educational writers use the commonplace pyramid and current their conclusions solely at the finish. Writer / copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and the Interplay Design Basis. Copyright phrases and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Why Ought to You Use the Inverted Pyramid Writing Fashion?

  • You’ll assist readers perceive higher and sooner: Readers will perceive the key take away of the subject proper from the begin. This fashion, they’ll take in your supporting data and background a lot better.
  • You’ll cut back the time required to learn and work together: Readers can get what you imply with out having to learn the total content material. They’ll cease studying at any level and can nonetheless perceive the essence. That signifies that you’ll additionally help skimming, which most readers do on-line.
  • You’ll encourage studying: While you draw readers in together with your details, they’ll naturally proceed to examine the particulars and views in the event that they’re occupied with the subject.

How to Apply the Inverted Pyramid Fashion

  • Discover out what you actually need to inform and why you need to inform it: What’s the conclusion, the key reality you need to talk to your readers? Try to be ready to sum up the key take away in a heading or sentence. That is basically what your readers want to know. This process takes extra time than you may suppose. Nonetheless, in the event you spend ample time discovering out what you actually need to inform, the relaxation of the writing course of might be straightforward, easy and quick for you. And your readers will immediately perceive what you need to inform them. It’s so simple as that. You must all the time select simplicity over complication.
  • That is how you discover out what you actually need to inform and why you need to inform it: You merely use this sentence and insert your important take-home level.

    • I would like to inform that… (important take-home level/conclusion),
    • as a result of… (why that is important to your pricey reader/person).
  • Let’s take an instance:
    • I would like to inform that you first have to discover out what you actually need to inform your reader/person,
    • as a result of it will save you numerous of time and, extra importantly, it’ll make your textual content/app a lot simpler to perceive and extra attention-grabbing to learn/use.
  • Begin writing:

    • Talk your important level and conclusion This fashion, you write a abstract at the prime once you write an article or UX case research. You must also craft headings that meaningfully summarize every part you write. Likewise, once you write copy in your product, you’ll additionally craft headings that meaningfully summarize a web page or display screen.
    • Then, transfer on to the most vital particulars and supporting data to clarify your important level and conclusion.
    • Lastly, it’s time to talk background data with nice, technical particulars, discussions and views. That is the data which is merely good to know.
    1. Write in the inverted pyramid model inside every paragraph, too: Begin your paragraphs with the most vital sentence first. Actually, begin your sentences with key phrases as a lot as you possibly can.
    2. In the event you come from academia, this might be a troublesome problem. Academia is all about the commonplace pyramid. However we all know you possibly can convert your writing model. Simply begin working towards proper now.

    Tip 2: Be Concrete and Stroll Down the Ladder of Abstraction

    Summary sentences are broad and imprecise—as an example:

    “An experiment was carried out to check the relationships between customers’ perceptions of a computerized system’s magnificence and usefulness. ”

    ― Tractinsky, N., Shoval-Katz A. and Ikar, D. (2000), What’s Lovely is Usable Interacting with Computer systems, 13(2): 127-145.

    Summary sentences are usually not very best, as a result of they require time and effort to course of they usually don’t reveal who does what. Strive to think about the way you may draw an illustration of the sentence above. Troublesome, proper?! That is how troublesome summary sentences are to comprehend and make sense of to our brains. Concrete sentences, on the different hand, immediately reveal what they imply. They assist us perceive who does what, they usually grow to be a lot simpler and sooner to perceive and visualize. For instance:

    “At the MIT-IBM Watson lab 7 researchers carried out an experiment to check the relationships between 120 customers’ perceptions of a cellular cost system’s magnificence and usefulness.”

    Once we write concrete sentences, our readers don’t have to search the article for different sentences to assist them perceive who does what. In the summary sentence, the reader may have to go searching to discover details about which lab it’s in addition to what number of researchers and what number of customers participated in the check. That’s why concrete sentences are simpler to perceive and sooner to learn. Be concrete, not summary. And, truthfully, we should confess that we spent 5 minutes to grasp the particulars in the wonderful paper by Tractinsky, however inside 5 minutes we couldn’t discover out the place the experiment befell, who participated and who the researchers had been. We gave up, so we guessed and made up the vital particulars of who did what. Likewise, your readers will both begin guessing what you imply or hand over studying your article or portfolio in the event you don’t write concrete sentences.

    Summary sentences are imprecise, whereas concrete sentences are straightforward to perceive. Writer / copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and the Interplay Design Basis. Copyright phrases and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

    When you’ve got studied at college degree, it may be a troublesome problem to write concrete sentences, as a result of academia is in love with summary sentences. A number of college graduates, PhDs and professors have instructed us that studying to write concretely is like un-learning how to stroll after which studying it once more so as to give you the chance to run. However you realize what―they agree that it’s price the time it takes to be taught.

    Why Ought to You Write Concrete Sentences?

    It’s as a result of we perceive concrete statements sooner. Summary sentences pressure readers to spend time skimming up and down the web page to perceive what we’re making an attempt to talk. In dangerous instances, we pressure our readers to guess what we imply. This takes up psychological capability; it takes time and thus worsens the studying expertise. While you write concrete sentences, you’ll make issues far simpler for readers. Higher nonetheless, they’ll need to learn what you need to inform them.

    How to Write Concretely

    • Present examples to illustrate your level: As an example, once you write about design challenges you confronted in a challenge, record 2–Three particular challenges you encountered.
    • Present it, and inform it: While you introduce a brand new function in an app, present screenshots of how the function works.
    • Be particular relatively than basic: Search for basic statements and make them particular. Don’t say, “We had an outdated design.”; say, “We had an outdated design the place we used textual content that’s too small for cellular gadgets.”
    • Stroll down the ladder of abstraction: The ladder of abstraction helps you write concrete phrases particularly in the starting of your article after which slowly transfer up to summary ranges of data. Please see the illustration beneath, and promise your self to all the time begin at the first step of the ladder. In any case, your reader can’t fly all the means up to the higher step of the ladder—and would fall down with a damaged leg or hand over studying in the event you began your writing journey from the higher step of the ladder. And, please keep at the backside of the ladder as a lot as potential. Why? This can allow you to write one thing price studying, whether or not it’s for an app, a case research, a social media submit or a tutorial paper. Now, chances are you’ll suppose it’s not possible to do that once you comply with the construction of the inverted pyramid. However that isn’t true. The conclusion, important data and goal are issues you possibly can—and will—describe concretely. Nonetheless, generally you’ll first contact the higher half of the ladder in just a few sentences, and then you definately’ll rapidly descend to clarify the conclusion intimately and with concrete examples.
    • Make comparisons: Simply as we in contrast your reader to a human being who tried to fly all the means up to the higher step of the ladder and fell down with a damaged leg.

    Tip 3: Write Energetic Sentences for an Simpler Learn

    Energetic sentences specify what motion is carried out and by whom. Or, to make that sentence much more energetic, these sentences specify what occurred and who did it. They allow you to assemble clear, concrete sentences. It’s the verb which makes the main distinction. You write energetic sentences once you use energetic verbs, as an alternative of passive verbs.

    A easy instance is that this: “We [actor/subject] created [action/active verb] paper prototypes [what’s being done/object].” The energetic verb helps the reader simply determine the who and what of the sentence.

    On the different hand, in passive sentences the topic doesn’t carry out an motion, however has one thing finished to it. Due to this fact, passive sentences usually “conceal” the actor. As an example: “Paper prototypes [what’s being done/subject] had been created [action/passive verb].” Discover how the sentence doesn’t reveal who created the prototypes?

    Energetic sentences have a direct construction and thus are straightforward to perceive. Writer / copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and the Interplay Design Basis. Copyright phrases and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

    Why Ought to You Write Energetic Sentences?

    • You’ll make your sentences simpler to perceive: Energetic sentences are extra direct and subsequently simpler to perceive. Passive sentences have an oblique sentence construction. As with the summary sentences, the reader will usually not have a clue as to who did what to whom, so readers have to exert psychological time and effort to skim for the particular actors and objects, in order that they themselves can join the dots. As the creator, it’s best to tackle the psychological burden of understanding who does what to whom, so your readers can slide simply by means of your textual content. Actually, when you might have to join the dots your self, you’ll most definitely perceive the content material you’re speaking a lot better your self. Simply see what good previous Einstein stated:
    • “In the event you can’t clarify it merely, you don’t perceive it effectively sufficient.”

      – Albert Einstein

    • You’ll present that you’ve a transparent means of pondering when you possibly can talk with energetic sentence constructions in a easy and easy means.
    • You’ll cut back your phrase depend: Energetic sentences are normally shorter. As an example, the energetic sentence “We examined our prototype.” is 2 phrases shorter than its passive equal, “The prototype was examined by us.”
    • You’ll sound extra assured: Energetic sentences require us to spotlight who carried out the motion. Once we achieve this, we take duty and provides credit score for the motion. For instance, once you say, “I carried out person interviews, ” you clearly present your half in the design course of. (Examine this with the passive “Person interviews had been carried out.”) Equally, “You must use energetic sentences.” is extra assured than “Energetic sentences needs to be used.”

    How to Write Energetic Sentences

    It’s robust to persistently write in the energetic voice. We wrestle with it every day. Nonetheless, with sufficient observe and the suggestions beneath, you possibly can grasp the energetic voice.

    • Write solely energetic verbs. So, how do you do that in the simplest way? Simply learn on.
    • Place the actor first in a sentence: As an example, “I [actor/subject] carried out [action/active verb] person interviews [what’s being done/object].” On the different hand, once you begin your sentence with what’s being finished, you’re possible to create a passive sentence. For instance: “Person interviews [what’s being done/subject] had been carried out [action/passive verb] by me [actor/prepositional phrase].”
    • Keep away from the “-ing” suffix: When your sentence comprises a verb in the -ing kind (the current participle), it could generally conceal who the actor is. For instance, “Deciding on all related choices will give the finest outcomes.” is an instance of a gerund: the motion itself, worded as a noun (i.e., as if it had been a acutely aware actor). This isn’t sturdy, energetic writing. You possibly can repair it once you use the verb in its current or previous tense with the actor clearly taking the lead—so, “You must choose all related choices to get the finest outcomes.”; or, shorter nonetheless, “Choose all related choices to get the finest outcomes.”
    • Keep away from nominalizations: A nominalization is a verb that’s transformed right into a noun. “Dialogue”, “exploration” and “ideation” are examples of nominalizations. They’re noun types of the verbs “focus on”, “discover” and “ideate”. While you use nominalizations, your sentence is probably going passive. So, write “We explored potential concepts,” relatively than “An exploration of potential concepts was finished by us.”

    When to Use Passive Sentences

    Typically, you should utilize the passive voice to de-emphasize or omit the actor. We normally achieve this when the actor has dedicated a detrimental act, as an example in error messages. It’s extra well mannered to say, “Invalid tackle entered” than “You’ve entered an invalid tackle.” In the identical vein, you may use the passive voice to sound much less private once you critique somebody. Additionally, once you’re writing copy, often it’s higher to phrase sentences in the passive voice—i.e., if the energetic model would sound unnatural or awkward. For instance:

    “Dr. Goodenough made enormous contributions to the area. Appropriately, he was included in the New Yr’s Honours record in the UK.” (The second sentence is passive, however higher as a result of it sounds extra pure.) versus

    “Dr. Goodenough made enormous contributions to the area. Appropriately, the committee performing on behalf of the monarch determined to embrace him in the New Yr’s Honours record in the UK.” (Each sentences are energetic, however be aware how the further phrases aren’t essential to describe this, a standard act of official recognition in the United Kingdom. Additionally, they shift the emphasis a bit from the topic of the first sentence.)

    Tip 4: Kill Your Filler Phrases

    Filler phrases are redundant. They add size however not which means. Take away them to enhance the high quality of your work.

    Kill your filler phrases to let your message shine. Writer / copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and the Interplay Design Basis. Copyright phrases and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

    As an example, this sentence right here is actually a very good instance of a sentence stuffed with filler phrases, because it’s actually crammed with redundant phrases.

    We’ve italicized the filler phrases in the earlier sentence. Right here’s the way it reads with out them: As an example, this can be a nice instance of a sentence with filler phrases, because it’s crammed with redundant phrases.

    Why Ought to You Delete Filler Phrases?

    • You’ll lower down on phrases: Much less is all the time extra when it comes to writing. That features the level that you just’ll lower to the chase. There’s a distinction between writing in a conversational model and writing as in the event you had been having a dialog with a pal. Actually, the subsequent time you do have a dialog, pay attention out for these filler phrases… the ones we’re so used to that we truly (sure, generally that’s one, too, relying on the context) overlook them.
    • You’ll make your content material simpler to take in: Filler phrases are like noise—they’re meaningless and distract you from the vital sign. While you take away filler phrases, you make your important message clearer.

    How to Eradicate Filler Phrases

    • Kill filler phrases: “simply”, “so”, “very”, “a bit”, “actually”, “actually” and “fairly”. These are the important culprits.
    • Take away phrases that reference the right here and now: Take away phrases corresponding to “right here”, “now” and “at present”. Additionally, we are able to shorten “The website is at present down” to “The website is down” since we are able to infer that the website is down proper now, from the current tense.
    • Be extra particular: As a substitute of saying, “We had a superb time,” be particular and say, “We had a nice time.” or “We had an ecstatic time.” Quite than say “The website was very gradual,” describe how gradual and say, “The website took 50 seconds to load.” Your sentences might be extra informative, highly effective and attention-grabbing, too.

    Tip 5: Combine Quick and Lengthy Sentences for Selection

    Differ between lengthy and brief sentences to create a extra attention-grabbing studying expertise. Use brief sentences as a lot as you possibly can. See, isn’t this good? Use longer sentences extra sparingly. Your finest paragraphs may have a wholesome mix the place brief and longer sentences complement one another to optimize circulation, in order that they’ll pour your message into readers’ minds naturally and effortlessly.

    Why Ought to You Combine Quick and Lengthy Sentences?

    • Selection makes your content material attention-grabbing: Constantly brief sentences really feel piecemeal and sound jerky and monotonous collectively in strings. Constantly prolonged sentences require psychological effort to perceive. A combination of each is right.
    • You’ll get to the level: To combine lengthy and brief sentences, you’ll want to break up and shorten your lengthy sentences, because you’ll possible have extra lengthy sentences than brief ones. In impact, you’ll make your sentences extra succinct. Now, that’s a pleasant facet impact.

    How to Combine Quick and Lengthy Sentences

    • Break up lengthy sentences: Discover lengthy sentences and break them up. Typically, it’s best to use prolonged sentences solely when wanted.
    • Use brief sentences for dramatic impact: Quick sentences not solely give readers a better time; in addition they add some dramatic impact. It’s the equal of an influence pause, when a speaker pauses to emphasize some extent. Use them effectively.

    General, keep in mind—English is a musical language that’s geared for circulation. And also you’ll understand how effectively your phrases can circulation into your reader’s thoughts once you learn them aloud. You’ll give you the chance to spot in the event you’re out of breath (on one overlong sentence or a string of lengthy ones). Likewise, you’ll give you the chance to inform in the event you’ve received too many shorter sentences clustered too shut collectively (like driving over bumps in the street). So, you’ll discover how effectively the sentences complement one another—or play off each other’s sturdy factors—in every paragraph. An added bonus of studying aloud is you’ll extra possible discover phrases chances are you’ll be too fond of. For instance, in the event you hold writing “enhance”, swap it out for “rise” right here and there. It’s wonderful what the ear can choose up that the eye is blind to. We’ll have extra to say on this a bit later.

    Tip 6: Use Bullet Factors and Numbered Lists to Assist Readers Skim

    Nothing says “scannable” greater than lists. Bulleted lists and numbered lists are your folks once you need to make textual content readable.

    Why Ought to You Use Bulleted and Numbered Lists?

    • You’ll assist individuals skim and perceive higher: See what we imply? You group content material once you use lists, and this makes your content material sooner and easier to course of.
    • You’ll present that you just care: While you use bulleted and numbered lists, you present that you just cared sufficient to construction your content material effectively. Readers admire that.

    How to Use Bullet Factors and Numbered Lists

    • Construction your content material effectively: Know the key factors you need to say.
    • Use bulleted lists when the order doesn’t matter: As an example, to record the key elements you thought of once you designed a prototype. In such a case, all elements had been equally vital and so their order doesn’t matter.
    • Use numbered lists when the order issues: For instance, once you record the Three steps to create an account. When gadgets have a transparent hierarchy of significance or sequence, use a numbered record.
    • Use numbered lists when the quantity of gadgets issues: While you point out 10 usability heuristics for cellular gadgets, it’s best to put them in a numbered record. Despite the fact that all 10 heuristics are equally vital, the complete quantity of gadgets is a key attribute of your record.

    Tip 7: Spotlight Key Phrases

    Most readers gained’t learn your content material phrase for phrase. Actually, you’re in all probability not studying this phrase for phrase. That’s why it’s important to spotlight key phrases to assist your readers scan.

    Why Ought to You Spotlight Key Phrases?

    • You’ll assist individuals scan your content material: Readers can get a stable grasp of your message sooner.
    • You’ll emphasize your details: Spotlight phrases to sign to readers what your details are. This fashion, you inform your story higher and assist readers take in these factors sooner.

    How to Spotlight Your Key Phrases

    • Determine key phrases.
    • Daring key phrases (or use different visible types): You possibly can select to daring your key phrases or italicize them. You possibly can even use customized types (corresponding to a spotlight), however please use only one model persistently.
    • Don’t use an underline: We frequently use underlines to mark hyperlinks on a webpage. In the event you use underlines to emphasize your factors, your readers (particularly readers with imaginative and prescient impairments) may suppose they’re hyperlinks.

    Tip 8: Use Plain English

    Plain English is straightforward. It’s pleasant, skilled and reads like a dialog. Plain English creates nice studying experiences.

    In distinction, “bureaucratic” English is prolonged, boring and troublesome to perceive. You’ve in all probability encountered bureaucratic English in authorized paperwork and educational papers. It has a time and a spot, however that’s not right here. You understand how boring and/or heavy-going it’s—so, keep away from bureaucratic English.

    Speaking clearly is, on the different hand, very troublesome. As Leonardo da Vinci stated, “Simplicity is the final sophistication.”

    Plain English is pleasant, direct and easy—use it to talk higher. Writer / copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and the Interplay Design Basis. Copyright phrases and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

    Why Ought to You Use Plain English?

    • You’ll talk clearly and concisely: Plain English is straightforward to perceive. This implies your readers will get what you imply rapidly.
    • You’ll widen your viewers: For instance, recruiters who learn a UX case research may not be UX specialists. Extra customers might be ready to use your product in the event you talk clearly―and fewer customers would want to seek the advice of a guide. So, once you write in plain English, your phrases attain extra individuals who can perceive what you imply. Folks with cognitive disabilities can even perceive you higher.

    How to Write in Plain English

    • Keep away from jargon: Jargon is phrases that solely individuals from a sure group perceive. We designers love jargon corresponding to “usability” and “A/B testing”. In case your reader isn’t a designer—they usually’re possible not—substitute jargon with on a regular basis phrases. In the event you want to use jargon (as an example, in your UX case research), clarify what it means. Say one thing like this: “We examined the prototype’s usability to see how straightforward it was to use.”
    • Use easy phrases over advanced ones: Huge
      phrases don’t assist your readers, many of whom can even be non-native English
      audio system. Don’t say “extra”, “correspondence”, “modify” and different advanced
      phrases. Say “extra”, “e mail” and “edit” or “change” as an alternative. Be easy, but in addition
      oversimplify what you say. English
      has an enormous vocabulary, the place 4, 5 or extra phrases can describe the identical
      factor (the place different languages might have solely two). Take the time to choose the
      easy phrase for every context—when readers should cease to take into consideration
      a strange-looking phrase, you can begin to lose them.
    • Join your sentences: Once we communicate, we use connecting phrases corresponding to “and”, “however” and “so” to be a part of our sentences. Use these connecting phrases. And use them to begin sentences if you need to. However don’t go overboard.
    • Learn what you’ve written aloud: After you’ve crafted your draft, learn it aloud to check if it appears like the way you’d usually communicate. Use your cellphone to file your self if it helps. If you end up sounding unnatural, tweak what you’ve written. Bear in mind, your ear can choose up issues your eye gained’t. That features circulation, phrase alternative and—as an apparent however very important bonus—errors corresponding to typos that your spell-checker might miss (as an example, “Now you’re leaning!”).

    The Take Away

    You want to grasp how to write successfully to be an awesome UX designer. These 8 writing suggestions will increase your writing expertise:

    1. Use the inverted pyramid to state your details first.
    2. Be concrete and stroll down the ladder of abstraction.
    3. Write energetic sentences for a better learn.
    4. Kill your filler phrases.
    5. Combine brief and lengthy sentences for selection.
    6. Use bullet factors and numbered lists to assist readers skim.
    7. Spotlight key phrases.
    8. Use plain English.

    Need all the following pointers in a single place? We’ve received you coated. Obtain our free template beneath:

    Get your free template for “8 Writing Tips to Supercharge Your UX Work”

    8 Writing Tips to Supercharge Your UX Work
    8 Writing Tips to Supercharge Your UX Work

    Now that you just’ve learnt these 8 suggestions, attempt to determine the strategies we’ve used on this article. What number of can you notice? Are you able to recommend methods to enhance our article?

    References and The place to Study Extra

    Study extra about the inverted pyramid writing model in Nielsen Norman Group’s article: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/inverted-pyramid/

    The Plain English Marketing campaign has a nifty PDF information on how to write in plain English: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/files/howto.pdf

    We additionally love Mary Sprint’s writing suggestions in the United States’ plainlanguage.gov website: https://plainlanguage.gov/resources/articles/dash-writing-tips/. Mary Sprint is the Chief of the Congressional Correspondence and Quality Assessment Department of the Inside Income Service.

    The idea of “the ladder of abstraction” was created by American linguist S. I. Hayakawa in his 1939 ebook Language in Thought and Motion.

    Hero picture: Writer / Copyright holder: Joanna Kosinska. Edited by Teo Yu Siang. Copyright phrases and license: Unsplash License.

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    Justin Malonson is the CEO of Coastal Media Brand and the Founder of LyfeLoop a 16+ year tech innovator and investigative media researcher. Justin is a highly sought-after tech entrepreneur, industry speaker and winner of the coveted Business Achievement Awards "Top Digital Marketer" award. With 16+ years of demanding experience, Justin has worked with over 3,000 businesses including amazing clients such as Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Sotheby's International Realty, Duke University, White House Black Market, Tiffin Motorhomes, Bass Pro Shops and Beazer Homes USA.

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