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design service as a whole meal

UX writing and research are at the core of what we do, not add-ons.

UX writing and research are at the core of what we do, not add-ons.

Written in collaboration with Manaal, our UX Researcher, Copywriter, and in-house DJ

At 3 Sided Coin, our engagement model is on a time and material basis. For the majority* of our projects, we assign a design team that consists of:

  • UX researcher [part-time]
  • Creative head-designer who also handles client communications [part-time]
  • UX & UI designer [full-time]
  • UX writer [part-time]

* Certain projects focus solely on research.

Often, when clients see this team structure, it is not apparent to them why we have multiple people for what they consider to be one person’s job. After all, aren’t designers lone wolves fighting for the cause of design in the face of all adversity?

Their question arises from valid concerns — are multiple people going to slow down the process? How do these roles actually impact the quality of the output? Why does this cost so much and can it cost less if we remove two people out of these three?

When I was asked that question more than once in a span of two weeks, I realized this is something we need to put down as a policy in a blog post. Never leave out an opportunity to write and then milk it on social media. 😝

If we agree on the part that the text is as much a part of your interface as are the colours, typography, shapes, and design components they make, we also agree that the role of UX writer is no less than that of an interface designer. In fact, the words in an interface are often what the user relies on most in order to use the product and accomplish their goals. Without words, interfaces would be an indecipherable jumble of shapes and colours.

A UX writer crafts microcopy and content for a digital product while always keeping the user’s needs at the forefront, but they also do more than just filling words into the interface. They bring a strategic eye to the messaging of a product by working on guidelines for the product or brand voice and tone. They often follow a rigorous process of research before the writing process, and of testing, once the design is complete. UX writers are also designers, but they solve problems using words instead of colours and shapes.

Without words, interfaces would be an indecipherable jumble of shapes and colours.

Most interface designers are not typically trained in messaging and UX writing. This is a whole different skill set. While small projects and websites may be able to get away without having a UX writer on board, in order to deliver the best possible product and experience, we’ve learned it always pays off to have the distinct skills and perspective that a UX writer brings to a project.

Similarly, although UX designers may have some knowledge of research processes and methods, UX research is an overlapping but distinct field from UX and UI design. A UX researcher will have intimate knowledge of research methodologies and how to execute them. A researcher will often not be as close to the product as the designer, and so will be able to look at it from a different and unbiased perspective. They will be able to keep the user’s needs front and center without being swayed by business objectives as a product manager might.

We used contextual inquiry (a research methodology that combines observing people in their natural environment and asking questions to fill in the gaps) on an ed-tech project we worked on last year to get a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by students. This involved hanging out in Telegram study groups to see what kind of questions and problems the students were facing and what kind of language they used to communicate with each other. Later on, in the same project, we used remote, moderated usability testing on our prototype before it went into development to identify issues with user flows and copy.

Having distinct roles for a writer, researcher and designer mean having multiple perspectives and viewpoints on the product, which is invaluable. It can often lead to some fierce internal discussions bordering on arguments, but in the end, the product and the user is always better off for it.

This understanding of the UX writer and UX researcher roles is relatively new for us, but it has been a revelation. UX copy has helped shape the visual design of a product for us. We cannot see research or UX writing as separate side dishes now. They are part of the entrée. We don’t offer our services à la carte without them — they are an essential part of the meal.

We are 3 Sided Coin, a UX research and digital experience design studio based in India. Check our work on our website, follow our rants/philosophical musings on Twitter, and see our kick-ass visual art and in-progress work on Instagram.

We are your team!

We are taking up new engagements across user research, product design, and web & editorial design.

Do you or someone you know needs amazing digital experiences researched and designed? Write in now.

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