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UX writing and accessibility: writing for everyone

UX writing and accessibility: writing for everyone

Websites and digital services should exist to serve the public in a way that allows them to find what they're looking for quickly, so they can get on with their day.

UX writing is writing for websites, apps and user interfaces. It's about using plain English to get to the point quickly, to make information inclusive and easy to understand.

UX writing basics
accessibility and usability
how to write in plain English
how to edit and review your work

Laura Parker

June 10, 2020

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  1. Housekeeping • This talk is being recorded • Mute your

    microphone and camera • Use the chat box to ask questions • This talk should last 30 minutes
  2. Laura Parker 
 UX writer and content designer 

 Service experience design team 
  3. What I’ll talk about • UX writing • Accessibility and

    empathy • How to write in plain English • How to check and edit your work
  4. Some technicalities • User experience (UX) writing is writing to

    inform or instruct • UX writers use plain English to make information accessible, inclusive and easy to understand • UX writers need empathy to help make services human and relatable • ‘Users’ means people using a service
  5. UX writing and accessibility It’s not dumbing down, it’s opening

    up • Roughly 11.9 million adults in the UK are living with a disability - that’s 1 in 5 or 20% • Making a website or mobile app accessible means making sure it can be used by as many people as possible • This includes those with • Impaired vision • Motor difficulties • Cognitive impairments or learning disabilities • Deafness or impaired hearing http://www.craigabbott.co.uk/accessibility-is-not-an-edge-case
  6. The Home Office have created posters to help you to

    design for different impairments
  7. Solving problems for people with one arm solves problems for

    people with a broken arm, people with bags or people carrying children.
  8. Who are you talking to? • To understand your audience

    you should know: 
 — how they behave, what they’re interested in or worried about - so your writing will catch their attention and answer their questions 
 — their vocabulary - so that you can use the same terms and phrases they’ll use to search for content • Check Google Trends and forums to see how people are talking about DofE
  9. Write in plain English • Don’t use jokes or idioms

    - users on the spectrum might take idioms literally • Use simple sentences and bullets (max 20 words per sentence and two sentences per paragraph) • Don't underline words, use italics or write in capitals • Don't use complicated words or figures of speech • Break up content with sub-headings, images and videos • Use high frequency words - (coat v outdoor wear) • Write for a reading age of 9 years • Don’t exclude anyone - words to use and avoid when writing about disability
  10. Writing for specialists • Use plain language 
 — according

    to GOV.UK research, people understand complex specialist language, but do not want to read it if there’s an alternative • Technical terms
 — technical terms are not considered jargon but you should explain what they mean • People with the greatest expertise tend to have the most to read 
 — make sure your content is helpful and easy to scan 
  11. Ways to check and edit your work • Content clinics

    • 2i and pair writing • Demos and show and tells • Read text on your phone and aloud • Print it out 
 — ask users to highlight any words or phrases they're not sure about and parts they find most useful
  12. Give your project a user story • As a [person

    in a particular role] • I want to [perform an action or try something out] • So that [I can achieve my goal of…] As a headteacher, I want to improve the school’s extracurricular programme so that I can get a better ofsted report.
  13. Books to read • Content Design and by Sarah Richards

    • Readability Guidelines by Content Design London • Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch • Everybody Writes by Anne Handley • Don’t make me think: A common sense approach to usability by Steve Krug
  14. @LauraParkerUX People to follow
 Andrew Schmidt (senior product writer at

    Slack): https://www.andrewschmidt.net 
 Jared Spool (UX) https://www.uie.com @jmspool
 Erika Hall (designer): https://muledesign.com @mulegirl
 Caio Braga (product designer) https://caioab.com @caioab
 Paul Boag (UX expert) https://boagworld.com @boagworld Links to click 
 Readability Guidelines https://readabilityguidelines.myxwiki.org
 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines https://www.w3.org
 Rules of Effective UX Writing https://uxplanet.org/16-rules-of-effective-ux-writing-2a20cf85fdbf
 The Unusable podcast https://podcast.theunusable.com
 Content Design London http://contentdesign.london
 Microsoft accessibility kit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/style-guide/welcome/
 UK Home Office accessibility posters https://github.com/UKHomeOffice/posters/blob/master/accessibility/
 UX Collective https://uxdesign.cc
 UK disability facts and figures http://www.craigabbott.co.uk/accessibility-is-not-an-edge-case
 GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/writing-for-gov-uk
 GOV.UK 2i checklist https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2014/05/29/what-to-check-before-you-publish-a-2i-checklist/