People often confuse a UX writer with a copywriter. These two are two different writing categories.
Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and major tech companies have defined separate departments for UX writers and separate for copywriters. But what are these writers doing? How are they different from each other? Is UX writing a skill worth learning and enough to carry as a full-time career?
UX is an advanced form of technical writing that includes the duty to write website content depending on the UX design. UX writers collaborate with graphics and UX/UI designers through collaborative design tools like Figma and Adobe XD.
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What is the Difference Between a UX Writer and a Copywriter?
UX stands for User Experience. As UX design enhances the user experience, so does the UX writing.
UX writing means writing a user interface microcopy of a product that provides a guide to use that product. Users often encounter this copy while using a product.
On the other hand, copywriters write content to market a business’s services or product. This writing focuses on the goals to increase product sales, while UX writing mainly focuses on the design and efficient usage of a certain product. Copywriters primarily rely on market research data and formulas to write creatively and improve sales.
UX writers are sometimes also called content strategists or content designers. The content designer is an old term and is now replaced with content strategists, but still, it is not a proper term to define a UX writer’s job description.
UX writers also help in writing content strategy along with the product manager. They mainly rely on the use of Figma and other collaborative design tools like Adobe XD for communication. A good user experience highlights UX writing.
Consider this real-life scenario to understand the difference between UX writing and copywriting. According to a study of a google search on hotel rooms, it was found that people felt a sensation of commitment with a copy that says “Book a Room” while it was just to check the availability of space. A huge difference was spotted when the copy was replaced with “Check Availability” instead of “Book a Room”.
This practice is the power of good UX writing in comparison to simple copywriting. This minor change increased the traffic and engagement by 17%.
As these terms are different but not all the differences are black and white, let’s have a look at these points to understand the major differences:
1. Helping Marketing a Business vs. Helping the Customers
Although both UX writers and copywriters help the business and customers, UX writing primarily focuses on helping the customers to complete a task. The job is to simplify the use of a product, and thus this practice increases customer satisfaction, and they have greater trust in the business.
No doubt good copywriting skills help the customers as well, but the goals are primarily business-profit oriented. In copywriting, the text is tempting and appealing for a user, which intimidates and leads them to take action in the support of business marketing.
In short, it can be said that UX writing helps the customers while copywriting helps grow business sales.
2. Sales Oriented vs. Product Oriented
Copywriting is sales-oriented, while UX writing is product-oriented. Copywriting increases business sales, while UX writing simplifies the method to use a product with simpler words.
UX writers do not tend to write a copy that attracts potential buyers or customers, instead, they use simpler words to explain processes and things for the user.
A copywriter writes with a focus to impress the reader and intimidate them to take an action. The words are compelling and engaging so that the reader either sticks with the text or takes an action in the support of the business that leads to more sales and profit.
3. Design Tools vs. Quantitative Research
Figma and Adobe XD are two collaborative design tools. UX writers primarily use these tools for communication with designers.
Figma is a collaborative tool used to create interface design for web and apps. It is a collaborative tool that multiple teams can use in real-time. The collaborative feature of the tool assists in UX writing. Similarly, UX writers use Adobe XD for real-time collaboration with multiple teams. It is a UX/UI design tool with the same live collaboration feature.
On the other hand, copywriters are sole workers. They rarely require the use of collaborative design tools. Instead, their work completely relies on formulas and numbers obtained from quantitative research. They write with their creative minds to market digital products.
4. Technical vs. Creative Writing
UX writing falls under the technical writing niche while copywriting falls under creative writing.
A UX writer should be familiar with backend technicalities so that they can translate the difficult information into simpler words. This helps the users and increases their comprehension and readability.
At the same time, a UX writer should have insightful and dynamic thinking to help the customer by providing insights into the main issue.
On the other hand, copywriters often use creative writing skills and engage the reader. They are not aware of the technical terms, or backend processes. But they must have the ability to trade users’ trust and compel them to purchase the support of the business.
5. Marketing vs. User Experience
The term UX writing is all about User Experience while copywriting is all about marketing. User experience and marketing are two different terms and shouldn't be intermixed with each other.
Marketing is an act to promote and sell your business’s product or services. Some marketing methods include selling, advertising, and delivering products to customers.
User experience is the experience of a person while using a product or benefiting from services. User experience is also referred to as client satisfaction regarding a product.
Hence UX copywriting should be done with a focus on client satisfaction, and user experience reflects how easy it is to use a product.
While good copywriting focuses on promoting and marketing a business’s services and increasing sales.
6. High Pay vs. Medium Pay
As UX writing is a specialized field, UX writers are paid much more than copywriters. According to an estimate, UX writers generate 37.5% more than copywriters according to Glassdoor's annual salary estimates.
Glassdoor lists the average annual salary of UX writers as $112k, and the average salary of copywriters as $70k per year. So, according to these numbers, the UX writers make almost 1.5-2 times more than generic copywriters.
7. Working Alone vs. Working with Team
A major difference between UX writers and copywriters is that UX writers always work along with the UX designer team, while copywriters work alone. Copywriters don’t need the assistance of any other department’s team and are completely independent to write compelling business copy.
UX writers engage often with the UX design team. This way, UX writers have a greater focus on the product strategy and goals depending upon product design. The greater the interaction with teams, the better the output will become. The UX designer also works by keeping UX writers work in their views.
Meanwhile, copywriters can work with any team. They work alone without considering the product design, they are just meant to sell it more. Sometimes, a copywriter can also work with marketing departments or content writing teams to share new ideas.
8. Stories vs. Conversations
Copywriters tell stories, while UX writers share conversations.
A UX writer’s focus is on providing a solution to a problem, and not telling stories. The moment a UX writer starts writing stories in the copy instead of providing solutions to a customer’s problem, it lessens the user’s trust in the brand.
Story writing is mainly a copywriter’s skill, who tries to impress the readers with the stories they tell.
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding telling the stories in a copy, but if you are talented enough to embed stories while providing a solution to the problem, it is no less than a blessing. And in such cases, it is also not prohibited.
A UX writer can share conversations to help the reader in all possible ways. While many copywriters take advantage of stories to impress the reader.
Copywriter vs. UX Writer: Primary Difference
Many UX writers are x-copywriters. They also write copy but with completely different writing goals.
One of the most visible differences between these two is that UX writers are not in any way linked with the marketing team. But in fact, UX writers are a part of the UX designers or product designer's teams. The copy a UX writer writes does not increase sales, enhance brand voice, or market the product. Instead, their main writing goal is to enhance the experience of users and not to sell a product.
While copywriters always work with the marketing team, they focus more on promotional materials and selling the products and not on the user experience.
A UX writer writes error messages, instructions, mobile apps notifications, chatbots, screen messages, form fields, and control button copy.
Copywriters write copy for landing pages, product descriptions, white papers, print ads, newsletters, social media posts, and slogans.
Here are answers to some of the most asked questions regarding UX writers and copywriters.
What is a UX Writer?
A UX writer is a product-oriented writer that writes microcopies with a focus to enhance user experience through UX design.
What is a Copywriter?
A copywriter is a sales-oriented writer that writes marketing content to sell products. The content a copywriter writes helps the reader to take any action in the support of business sales.
Can a Copywriter Become a UX Writer?
Yes. A copywriter can become a UX writer by adopting a few mandatory practices.
One way is to learn UX writing skills from courses, instructions, or classes. A copywriter can become a UX writer if they learn to analyze the user behavior and devise methods to enhance the user experience.
You can learn all technical details and skills required to become a UX writer with our UX writing course. To know more about the course learning outcomes, check out the course outline:
By learning the fundamentals of user design, a copywriter can write a UX copy depending on the UX design and log user data into the writing.
As soon as any writer jumps into the user experience and user testing, they start developing a UX writer’s mindset to increase user empathy. So, this is the first method to train a copywriter to become a UX writer. This makes UX writing user-centered writing.
Another way is to pair copywriters with UX designers and limit the designers to work on a UI task. This way, the copywriter can learn to write from the user’s perspective. This practice works well when a copywriter switches between a marketer/advertiser’s role and a UX writer’s role to enhance the brand voice and customer's experience. This way they can design a copy well-suited for both users and marketers.
Although the writing goals of the two writers are different, both of them can switch jobs by learning and adding certain skills into their job duties.
To become a UX writer, it is necessary to know about the design and technical features of the digital products you’re writing for.
As soon a copywriter’s and UX writer’s mindset matches, and they start working along with each other, that’s when you balance the needs for users and businesses at the same time with a successful outcome from both ends.
UX writers and copywriters are two different roles with unique skills and strengths, but these roles are often intermixed up with each other.
A UX writer writes with a focus on UX design to enhance user experience, while a copywriter writes to market and promote business sales.
A copywriter can become a UX writer, and similarly, a UX writer can become a copywriter while this transition is easier in comparison to the former.
Both these writers have a unique writing skill set, and they work accordingly to achieve business goals.
If you are new to UX writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our UX Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a UX writer, how to dominate UX writer interviews, and how to stand out as a UX writing candidate.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.