From copywriting to usability

Why writers make good usability practitioners, according to Jacob Nielsen...

 From copywriting to usability

Thoughts on Jakob Nielsen’s keynote speech at NN/g London Usability Week 2013

Usability Week London 2013 was, as always, a hotbed of fresh and insightful UX expertise. Sticky Content’s writers all attended sessions and diligently absorbed lots of new and interesting knowledge about current user experience best practice. (All the better to write for our clients, of course.)

Jakob Nielsen gave a keynote speech mid-week, charting his 30-year career in usability and outlining some of its future challenges.

At the end of the talk, he took questions from the audience. One audience member remarked that there seemed to be 3 main paths into a career in usability – psychology, design, and programming.

Jakob agreed, but added that there was a fourth major route – writing. Many writers find themselves moving into usability roles after spending their careers trying to optimise text so it serves users better.

We believe usability principles are the backbone of a good copywriter’s technique, whether or not they think of their methods in those exact terms. In fact, much of our best practice is grounded in what we’ve learned about user behaviour.

It works the other way too - content quality is often the make-or-break element in a successful website, booking process or email campaign, and copy forms a major part of most UX strategies.

Of course, we would say that… but it’s nice to have it confirmed by Nielsen.