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The importance of consistency in UX writing

Coloured pencils scattered on a dark table. UX writing can start with pen on paper drawing prototypes.

Consistency is important in any type of writing. But today I’ll discuss why it’s particularly important for UX writing.

Defining UX writing

What do we mean by UX writing? Simply put, it’s the words and phrases that appear in a user interface (UI) to guide and inform users as they interact with a digital product. Whether it’s a website, app, or software, the words you see on the screen are carefully crafted to create a seamless, intuitive experience. And that’s where consistency comes in.

Imagine you’re on a website, trying to buy a new pair of shoes. You’ve added a pair to your cart, and now you’re ready to check out. But when you get to the payment page, you’re greeted with a button that says “Submit” instead of “Pay now.” Wait, what? Is this the same website you were just on? Did you accidentally wander into a parallel universe where online shopping terminology is completely different?

Of course not. But that moment of confusion can be enough to make a user abandon their purchase and never come back. And that’s just one example of how inconsistent UX writing can harm a product’s success.

Creating consistency in UX writing

So, how can we ensure consistency in our UX writing? Here are a few tips:

  1. Establish a style guide

A style guide is a set of rules and guidelines that govern how a product’s writing should look and sound. This is also sometimes called content patterns. This can include everything from tone of voice to grammar and punctuation preferences. By creating a style guide, you can ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to writing. It also makes it easier to onboard new team members and freelancers, who can refer to the guide as they work on the product.

But let’s be real: creating a style guide isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. It can be tedious, time-consuming, and just plain boring. So, my advice? Make it fun! Throw in some pop culture references, jokes, or quirky examples to keep things interesting.

  1. Use consistent terminology

As I mentioned earlier, using inconsistent terminology can be a major source of confusion for users. That’s why it’s important to establish a set of terms and stick to them throughout the product. For example, if you’re designing a fitness app, you might use the term “workout” to refer to a session of exercise. But if you start using “sweat sesh” or “sweat session” interchangeably, users are going to be scratching their heads.

But let’s face it: sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to mix things up. Maybe you’re tired of using the same old terms over and over again, or maybe you just came up with a hilarious pun and can’t resist using it. My advice? Save it for the group chat. Just because you think something is funny or clever doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your product’s writing. Stick to the plan, people.

  1. Test your writing with real users

At the end of the day, the only way to know for sure if your writing is consistent and effective is to test it with real users. Conducting user testing can help you identify areas where users are getting confused or frustrated, and make tweaks to your writing to address those issues.

Don’t take feedback personally

But let’s be honest: user testing can hard for writers. You spent ages crafting the perfect message but your users don’t like it. Don’t take it personally! Look at the feedback and see where you can make improvements.

Whether you are writing for a user interface or website content, consistency is key. Use your a style guide to ensure your writing is meeting user needs. 

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