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UX Thinker / User Experience (UI/UX) Writer/Designer
Can a marketing copywriter
be a User Experience Writer/Designer?
I've advised clients on usability since before there was the Internet.
After all, an instantly-understood headline is "user experience." A page layout is a "user interface."
And like good UX, an ad or website needs to communicate quickly, intuitively, without making the reader think.
"Don't Make Me Think" is the title of a classic book about UX Design. Funny thing – in its first two
editions (2000 and 2006), the term "User Experience" and the abbreviation "UX Design" don't even appear.* Because
the important thing isn't the job title. What's important is the mindset, the ability to anticipate the reader.
To get them thinking, instead, about your message.
*(The term User Interface does appear. A whole three times.)
When I first heard the title of that book, I cringed, because I'd already been saying
"Don't make them think"
For example, when Polaroid cameras came out, two possible headlines might have been (A)
"There's a darkroom inside" or (B) "Prints your photo in 60 seconds". (A) is more "creative," but (B) gets straight to the point,
making the benefit obvious. In other words, be intriguing but direct; don't make them think. [CLOSE] for decades. It's
usually been when discussing a headline or creative concept with a client, Art Director, or another writer.
My experience encompasses virtually everything found in a User Experience (UX) Designer. To some in the UX community,
that statement is sacrilege. They draw a distinction between
a "Copywriter" and a "UX Designer," figuring that copywriting is about the client and the client's
product or service, while UX is about the User.
Sorry, that may be true of hack copywriting, but doesn't reflect the view of a thoughtful professional marketing copywriter.
A website, app, or product should not be about selling. Rather, it should focus on satisfying the User's wants, needs, and interests.
My role as User Advocate
Throughout my life as a Senior Copywriter, online and offline, I've focused on my client's
customers and users. As much as I come to know my client's product and objectives, I am also the reader's advocate.
That perspective is a key reason why Advertisers benefit from hiring an outside
writer or agency – we're well positioned to understand both the client and their customer.
In fact, in a rare (paid) copy test, I once landed a client by beating out a technology scholar
and a PR writer. Why? They focused on the product and the client's industry. My focus was on the user, the reader,
as I conveyed important technical and financial benefits in a user-friendly way.
That is where the reader's thoughts should be directed. Sometimes a headline
can tease the reader into the body copy, rather than delivering the entire sales pitch at top, but it better be a damn good tease,
paid off in a subhead or first sentence. If the reader has to think about what it means – putting their mind through
several steps before understanding the meaning or benefit – it's not the headline to use.
Another example: When contrasting a typical UX Designer versus a typical Copywriter,
it's important to compare good with good, not good with bad. (And why mess with "bad vs. bad"?) This is
similar to what I wrote in an article about being an Interactive Copywriter:
online copy is "interactive" because it needs to interact with the reader. Ditto for offline.
To be good, marketing copy always needs to be valuable to the reader, personal, and motivating. Otherwise,
it's bad copy, regardless of the medium.
I hid this section because I didn't want the article to look
forbiddingly long. But I must mention the idol of my early copywriting days, David Ogilvy. It's significant that before he
was an Advertising Man, he was a salesman and a Gallup researcher.
On page 97 of my yellowing copy of "Confessions ...", he recounts this now-classic tale that
demonstrates why a great copywriter may also be a great UXer (although I'd guess Ogilvy would have shuddered at such a label):
Vic Schwab tells the story of Max Hart (of Hart, Schaffner & Marx) and his advertising manager, George L. Dyer,
arguing about long copy. Dyer said, "I'll bet you ten dollars I can write a newspaper page of solid type and
you'd read every word of it."
Hart scoffed at the idea. "I don't have to write a line of it to prove my point,"
Dyer replied. "I'll only tell you the headline: THIS PAGE IS ALL ABOUT MAX HART."
— Confessions of an Advertising Man, Chapter 6 "How to write potent copy"
There you have it. A copywriter's ultimate empathy with the User. That was almost a century ago, yet it's as current as today's UX consultant.
So ... how can I help you?
As a good Senior Copywriter, I have experience with all sorts of customers and clients in
a wide range of industries – ranging from legwear and pancakes to financial services and industrial machinery. I have a strong sense of
graphic design (including typography, art and photography, layout, color, and reader behavior), a "user benefits" mindset, market research
and empathy, rhetorical clarity and organization, coding savvy, planning and communication, attention to detail,
a record of both teamwork and independent work, and all the other skills and talents required in good
full-stack UX Design.
By the way, that page about Interactive Copywriting has
resided on the
first page of Google for more than 15 years.
Let me give you more options
So, if you need a UX-savvy writer on your development team, or someone who can handle a range of UX functions,
or even a full-stack UXer on a one-person budget,
please call 718-577-0005 during NYC business hours,
or write me. Let's discuss
how you might benefit by hiring a writer whose perspective is broader than some.