A UX writer and copywriter go head-to-head. Who wins?

True story. I am an ad copywriter, and Lil Cameron is a UX web writer. One day, we received a brief to write a product announcement. Just for the hell of it, we each wrote a version, then paused midway.

To our surprise, we'd both approached the job differently.

Lil had done a fantastic job of explaining the product in concise, logical steps - leaving the headline (the 'hard part') for later. I'd done a great job of the headline (the ‘fun part’) but hadn’t even really started the copy!

And that’s the fundamental difference between a UX writer and a copywriter. We’re both hard-wired differently.

It's a small but monumental insight that can mean success or failure for your project. I have worked on hundreds of writing projects, and I can tell you that no one writer can handle the complexities of all the different media today.

But if you spend five minutes reading these descriptions, you'll have a greater understanding and appreciation of what you need.

A UX writer simplifies navigation

Otherwise known as a web writer, website copywriter, IA writer or digital writer, a UX writer is short for User Experience writer.

To understand a UX writer, you must understand a website's role in people’s lives today. A good website is like a well-functioning airport — people go there with a mission to get from A to B as fast as possible. The'll love your brand if you make everything easy. That’s the job of a UX writer.
Says Lil Cameron, “In a very narrow sense, UX writing is about helping users get to where they want to go, whether it's the copy on a button or an error message."

"I think the most helpful way of thinking about it is that copywriting persuades, while UX copy enables. Copywriting often involves more personality, while UX writing focuses on clarity as the key priority, although in some cases, you want a dash of both.”

A UX writer also has other complementary skills, such as comprehension of UX logic flow, SEO and IA awareness, and Tone of Voice capabilities as explained in our article, '10 rules for exceptional web copy (by writers who do it all the time)'.

A copywriter creates concepts

Good advertising copywriting is still fundamental to all good writing because the same principles apply: understand the audience and communicate in their language a proposition that usually persuades or evokes an emotion about the brand.

Generally speaking, an ad copywriter's style leans towards the more creative, persuasive side. Their superpower is excelling at single-minded concepts that are the heart of a campaign.

A content writer tells stories

A proficient content writer is a storyteller or a news reporter.

Our seasoned content writers often hail from a journalistic background. They have the instincts of a newshound – prolific at brainstorming ideas, finding compelling angles, writing for SEO, and using their extensive connections to get top-drawer interviewees. 

The difference between a copywriter and a content writer is often word count. As a copywriter, I struggle to write 500 words, but a content writer hates telling a story that is under 500 words.

Also, one thing I really respect about content writers is that they get out of their ivory towers and go anywhere and do anything to find a story. The insight is that if you do your research, the writing is easy.

An SEO writer optimises words

In a nutshell, search-engine-optimised writing helps your product get found online by your target audience. But the SEO market has evolved. (Please don't tell me that you still key-word stuff!!)

While there still may be an SEO brief, the writer now uses this as a jumping-off platform to choose topics themselves, layer in keywords, and, actually, unbelievably, do something original—write a story people want to read!

Then they use tools to optimise it. Check out our 2024 digital and SEO trends for more on this.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of splitting the role of SEO with that of a writer. Most of our writers can do both.

A social writer engages audiences

A social media writer is another entirely different writing skill.

Social media platforms are continually evolving, and each has a distinct voice, so staying on top of this is a big part of the role.

The hook into a social media post is a real art. You have to tell a whole story in a few sentences, and the tone should be generally first-person, intimate, and relationship-building.

Most good social writers are also pretty damn good at creating visuals, filming audio and generally doing what they have to do to get a story!

A technical writer simplifies complex

Technical writers have big brains on them. They are curious and can decode even the most complex industries and boffins.

Whether it’s for food science, healthcare, manufacturing or finance, technical writers can interview your subject matter experts, take screeds and screeds of jargon-rich information and explain it in layperson’s terms.

A sustainability writer knows their stuff

There are two rules to effective sustainable communications. 1. Know your stuff. 2. Passionately. 

A sustainability writer actively incorporates themes of sustainability, economic and social responsibility, and environmental conservation into their content.

As greenwashing becomes the default, sustainability experts can use technical writing and clear explanations to craft trustworthy content.

Industry experience helps. Nick Pascoe, for example, is a writer and engineer who was formerly the sustainability manager of Salt Lake City-based DPS Skis.

A Plain English writer de-jargons

Our team know Plain English so well, we edited The Plain Language Bill!  Many of our Plain English writers have some legal training and all have a fantastic understanding of grammar – but they also understand today’s relaxed tone.

They turn complex terminology and legal jargon into easy-to-read language, for all cultures and ages. Yes, even the most boring policy documents can be transformed into readable, helpful documents.

An AI writer collaborates

As a result of AI evolution, there is a tsunami of AI-written, low-value content. In response to that, Google is prioritising first-person, credible, personality-driven content and de-indexing websites with what it deems AI spam.

In experienced hands, however, the combination of the human mind and AI is an exciting development. An AI writer knows how to create a good prompt and refine it to get an initial AI flow. Then, they build on this in a variety of ways to create a high-quality, informative article.

The human part is everything AI can’t do—the important up-front thinking, creating and refining the prompt, curating AI to stop it from hallucinating, and adding originality such as interviews, thought leadership, and localising the language.

But wait, there's more...

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are writers who have specific industry experience, such as financial or medical writers. There are legal writers, cultural writers, and writers who excel at different genres, such as comedy or satire.

If you don’t know the difference, we do!

We’re Big on Writing, so we know what writer is best for each project. Our No.1 piece of advice is: take your time at the scoping stage, do your homework and get the right writer or team for your project – otherwise, you’ll spend the whole time feeling like you are fitting a square peg in a round hole.

Talk to Sue or Ben

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