User Experience Writing (UX Writing): How Intriguing Is it?

The Internet may have swept away the old jobs but it also creates even a lot more new ones. And for good writers, here is another career path to try. (Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com)

I stumbled upon Aulia Rahmani Soendoro’s tweets on Twitter (@aulley) and followed her writeups on Medium.com. There I discovered some promising future for writers to survive in this increasingly digitized world.

As the late Steve Jobs put it, “There’s an app for everything…”, the world population with smartphones is being inundated with more and more newly launched apps. Pretty much every single thing we do in life is now doable with an app installed and activated on our gadgets.

I believe writers are one species that can withstand the test of time, especially in these very very tumultuous times.

From Pandemic, Economic Recession, Poverty, Well-being Issues such as Loneliness, Depression, and the list goes on…

While writers who are now in their comfort zone feel there is no need to expand their expertise and experience, as someone who wants to be a well-fed writer myself I know it is so ridiculous to keep on writing something that you love but the world doesn’t give a single bit of attention.

That’s just sad and dejected.

Writers need to develop themselves and adapt themselves to the ever-changing world, too. Or else they’ll get crushed by the world.

Making us writers relevant to the current world trends is what we do need to stay afloat or even to soar.

In short, I’m so happy to find myself in a new but still relevant landscape to roam.

So what is UX Writing about?

It has very much to do with what users really feel when they are using a product, both digital or non-digital one.

A user experience writer is then someone who works to create content or “microcopies” (sentences that can be displayed on digital apps) to guide users.

A UX writer works in such a way to make users feel and experience the best while using an app or product.

A UX writer simply has to understand what users factually needs and how they think and issues they are having while completing a task or two on a certain app. Finally, a superior experience of using an app is partly thanks to a UX writer.

Again, like writing any other pieces, a UX writer works based heavily on data. So they can’t just write something without the relevant data to justify. This is a nonfiction writing type so one cannot just make it up from the thin air.

Aulia emphasizes on the fact that the growing tech industry still needs a lot of UX writer talents. But it seems the number of talents is not enough.

She exposes some ways to build a portfolio for a novice UX writer.

The one top piece of advice is that a great UX writer must be able to write like s/he speaks with a real human. So forget about formal expressions for a while. Digital app users may already have them enough in their professional emails.

On digital apps, they’d rather have a more informal, casual, and conversationally fluid language that makes an app feel more humane and alive and warm and personalized.

Aulia then shares some thought on how we beginners build our portfolios as UX writers.

First, we have to find out a product for a study case. This can be an app or a web service that we are familiar with or use every day. You know well what that is better than anyone else. It could be Spotify (the premium service, which requires you to complete a series of instructions), or Sayurbox if you’re fond of going shopping groceries safely at home.

To build a study case, of course you need to do some small scale research. Aulia mentions about usability testing. For this, a UX writer must involve some research participants. They must be real people who are willing to try and give feedback on the microcopies a UX writer has applied.

Another point to build is that we have to make user flows and personas. This is actually like you have to understand their personality and behaviors, you should find out their problems (pain points), goals and tasks to complete while using an app or product.

And based on the research result, craft microcopies that these people need so that they can more conveniently complete a series of tasks on a product or digital app.

She also details the sections that we must include in a study case. It includes:

  1. Details about the product being analyzed: Explain the product’s background and why you chose it in the first place.
  2. Our chosen flow: Explain the user flow you chose in the study case. Also include a chart and brief explanations. Don’t be technical or pedantic. Never use jargon or terminologies laymen won’t understand.
  3. User personas: Create user personas that can represent the audience of the chosen product. You can make more than one persona.
  4. Hypothesis: List down a hypothesis about potential issues (pain points) user may find out while using a product or app and explain why this is important to be solved ASAP with microcopies.
  5. Research: Simply explain what your research is about and the method being used, participant details, and proofs of the research (to prove you really did it), and most importantly, show them the takeaway or conclusion.
  6. Solution: Microcopies are given as solutions to users’ pain points/ problems.

I also found another source on UX writing as a career prospect here. UX writer Yuval Keshtcher generously shares a lot of resources there. (*/)

Jakarta and My Love-Hate Relationships with It

How can I not love Hotel Indonesia Turnaround (Bundaran HI) on Car Free Days like this?

Yesterday was the so-called anniversary of Jakarta. Some people think the 22nd of June was chosen just because the capital had its own anniversary for us to celebrate because otherwise it felt weird. Indonesians love festivities, celebrations and parties. And they have to find reasons to do so. Legitimizing the excuse, so to speak.

I have mixed feelings about Jakarta. It was never a place that I had imagined to live in in my early years. I would always think Jakarta was a horrible place to live in. Pollution, crimes, crowds, the list goes on and on.

Years passed and my perspective on Jakarta changed.

I needed a job that paid. A lot.

I needed experience that was more than what my little world could offer.

So I began considering Jakarta as one of the most promising places to work in.

I did move there and sucked my own bad judgment of the crappy yet pleasantly diverse mega city.

I guess some people are true to say that in the middle of the twister, you will feel most calm and still. You see a twister as a horrid thing because you’re not in it. Once you’re at the core of it, you’ll maybe feel more comfortable.

Jakarta may not offer me the exponential growth of material wealth but it did help me grow as a person, an individual, a soul.

This is where I saw and met with people on television that back then seemed – you know – WOW! But now that I’m here to see it all, I have no longer had that WOW. Suddenly everything and everyone seem normal. They are humans who make mistakes, who suck at one or two things hugely in their lives.

Jakarta, as weird as you can become, I still love and live in you…

But living in Jakarta takes a lot of energy. It’s hard to see al the hedonism and materialism when you start to feel fed up about it all.

And thank God, Jakarta also offered me an antidote. It gave me yoga, too.

Oddly enough, Jakarta has that toxin and antidote at the same time.

As much as it is soul crushing, Jakarta is also soul enriching.

Yeah, how weird…

And I will perhaps still have to live with this paradox for more years to come.

Or not. (*/)

Ethical Reflections for Teachers (From “The Red Teacher”)

The movie gives me a glimpse of promise that writing can prevail even in the toughest times of our mortal lives.

What can teachers give to their students?

People would most probably answer: knowledge and wisdom.

But sometimes teachers can give their – almost – whole livelihood and future career, like Tae-nam.

Depicted as a young, faint-hearted man who happens to teach at a local small school for girls, he is not a favorite teacher among students. Instead, he won the heart of the authoritarian principal to pave a smooth way to his future career.

But things were about to change after Tae-nam found out a red book at a small bookstore. The book tells a fictitious story of a Korean general, and most importantly, the romantic affairs between his wife and a good-looking young officer that directly reported to the general.

There was not supposed to be any problems for reading the book. However, the book was banned by the government as it was assumed to humiliate the Korean leader at the time.

Tae-nam knew this and stealthily devour the book, from cover to cover and immediately got rid of that the next day.

Unbeknownst to Tae-nam, Soon-duk who was his student and had a difficulty to respect authorities at school and showed a tendency of being a rebel found the red book (it was called so as the cover was red in color) and read it, too.

Non only was the book read by Soon-duk, it was also read by the entire class.

The story escalated when the classmates could hardly wait for the next sequel of the adult novel.

Soon-duk, having a streak of literary talent in her, tried to compose her own sequel of the novel to quench her classmates’ thirst of romantic stories.

Using her late father’s typewriter, Soon-duk finished her novel and published it on her own. Copies of Soon-duk’s prose were then circulated and sold by her trusted circle of friends.

[Spoiler alert!]

The conflict arises when the principal found Soon-duk’s novel after Tae-nam accidentally threw the book out of the classroom’s window.

An investigation was then launched to discover the writer. A band of government agencies got involved in the process of investigation. They studied the copies and found that the typewriter had a certain defect on it.

Being guilt-ridden, Tae-nam helped Soon-duk hide the typewriter so she could escape the punishment: being expelled from the school.

Instead, to protect Soon-duk better, Tae-nam confessed that the typewriter belonged to him and it was he who wrote the sequel of the novel. His motif should be to save Soon-duk from the government sanction, which could make her future life even more miserable. The fact that her father used to be a suspect of the similar offense also made her position even more difficult. Once she was caught and brought to trial, her social life seemed to be over. Soon-duk would be stigmatized for the rest of her life.

No students knew this confession as Tae-nam left the school without prior notice.

Soon-duk’s life went well. She even went to university years after. And somehow she found out that Tae-nam had to work at a smaller private school with a much lower salary, making even harder for him to be confident to find a woman to marry.

But then a questions arises:

Is Tae-nam’s action an ethical one?

Though Tae-nam is described as a teacher that finally took the best decision to protect his student, ethically it is not right.

By taking the blame, Tae-nam did not allow Soon-duk to learn her lesson. The hard way of course. But at the very least, she could take charge of her own bold action of publishing such a novel.

However, Soon-duk was also unaware of the fact that the book was banned and thus whoever wrote it could be sent to prison.

In this case, Tae-nam took charge of his fault for letting Soon-duk know about the book (by not properly disposing of the book, by burning it down, for example). And it was also his fault that the principal found the copies of Soon-duk’s novel.

Socrates said: “The truly wise man will know what is right, do what is good, and therefore be happy.”

I’m wondering whether Tae-nam was happy with his own decision. But what I am sure of is that he is proud of his own bold actions for taking side with the oppressed young soul. (*/)

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