With tips inspired by Brain Traffic’s lead content strategist, Scott Kubie.
As Kickstarter’s Senior UX Writer, I’m passionate about empowering my design and engineering colleagues to contribute to the copy process. Why? You know this one already — everyone writes. We write emails, we Slack one another, and sometimes…we write UI copy without our copywriters because it’s so second nature to us. It’s important to understand the value of one’s own individual perspectives in order to collaborate effectively.
Brain Traffic’s lead content strategist Scott Kubie recently stopped by Kickstarter HQ for an event co-organized with UX Content Design NYC. Throughout his hour-long talk and Q&A, Scott conveyed a succinct summary of his recent publication, Writing for Designers. The book aims to elevate copywriting skills among designers, who often sit adjacent to writers along a product’s path from concept to delivery. What happens when it’s handed off to engineers?
Collaboration is key
First of all, engineers who want to be closer to the copywriting process should never be shut out. But it’s equally important for writers to be part of the development process so that their delivered copy can adjust if any constraints or changes arise. Kubie’s book is a helpful way to explain how to get the writing done with other people. “Writing is about being intentional,” he told us, “and we need to give people freedom with their tools.” By breaking down the product writing process to its simplest elements, designers and engineers will see that it’s more about organized problem solving than a creative arrangement of language.
Create a recipe for success
In Writing for Designers, Kubie outlines approaches that can build writing confidence for nearly anyone. He prioritizes accuracy before clarity, then followed by brevity. The entire workflow is split into four parts: prepare, compose, edit, and finish. Scott guides us through each stage with little to no struggle. (Did I mention it’s only 65 pages? Easy.)
I personally love his analogy that writing is like cooking. “If following a recipe is a process, making dinner is a workflow,” he writes. “A dinner-making workflow has obvious phases — plan the meal, prep the ingredients, mix and cook things, finish and serve the meal. The specific steps and outcomes vary depending on the meal, but the basic workflow remains the same.”
Always show your work
If you’re a UX writer or content strategist, reveal your process to your teams. Show your colleague what excites you so much about your work and why. Display before and after product screens and explain the reasoning behind the areas that were upgraded. Ask an engineer what they think, and show them the same respect that you would your users. I could say more but all of this dinner talk is making me hungry.