Getting a Seat at the Table as a UX Writer
Do you sometimes feel a little invisible as a UX writer? Like you don’t have a seat at the table? Getting a seat at the table means two things to me: Being seen and treated as an essential member of the project team Feeling empowered to make UX writing decisions for the project Here are some tips on how to raise your visibility (and gain more recognition) for the work you do! You might work with someone who has never heard of a UX writer. Or maybe you work with a designer who is used to writing their own copy. Either way, it’s helpful to explain what you do as a UX writer and how you do it. Introduce yourself in a 1:1 chat when someone new joins the team, or get on the agenda at the next team meeting. I recently gave a short presentation to our summer interns about UX writing at Dropbox. It included these introductory slides: Share some slides on what you do as a UX writer Don’t assume people know what you do as UX writer. And once you explain it to them, they’ll better understand what you’re bringing to the table as a project team member. I have sometimes been accidentally excluded from team meetings. Here are a few tips for this situation: Tell people you want to be invited to team meetings. I know that seems obvious, but people may assume that you don’t want to be invited to every meeting, especially if you work on multiple teams. Be clear about the type of meeting (team status, sprint planning, vision, brainstorm, retrospective, etc.) you want to be invited to. Physically sit with your team. It’s easier to remember to invite you when you’re in the line of sight. Check that you’re on the right email distribution lists. Browse people’s calendars. If work calendars are shareable, occasionally check out member calendars to see if there are meetings you should be attending. I track all my projects in an Airtable, and share it with the teams I work on. If your team regularly sends out status reports, ask to be included on them! A sample project tracker Are you sometimes consulted for copy at the last minute? That can be frustrating. One way to minimize those last-minute requests is to add “UX writing review” as a formal item on the project’s sprint or pre-release checklist. For example, there is now this item in our DoD (“definition of done”) template: ☑︎ If there is customer-facing content in this story (button labels, menu names, error messages, etc.), has Jennie reviewed it? Not only will this make your workload a little more predictable, it’ll show that UX writing is an essential project task. I write a document for each chunk of work I do for a project. I call these docs content specs. You can include an approval section at the top of each content spec. This helps show that a content spec is as an essential component of every project. Dropbox Paper makes this easy by letting you tag people in to-dos with due dates: Add an approval section to the top of your content spec Part of your job as a UX writer is to explain why you choose the words you do. By explaining your decisions objectively and on a regular basis, you’ll elevate your visibility as the go-to words person. I laid out a few tips about this in my previous article, 4 ways to show the value of UX writing. To keep track of customer-facing terms I was using for a multi-team project,…
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