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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. By Laura Parker
    UX Writing and accessibility
    How to write with everyone in mind

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  2. Housekeeping
    • This talk is being recorded

    • Mute your microphone and camera

    • Use the chat box to ask questions

    • This talk should last 30 minutes

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  3. Laura Parker 

    UX writer and content designer 

    Service experience design team 




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  4. What I’ll talk about
    • UX writing

    • Accessibility and empathy

    • How to write in plain English

    • How to check and edit your work

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  5. What is UX Writing?

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  6. 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

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  8. @LauraParkerUX

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  9. Accessibility and empathy

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  10. 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


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  11. The Home Office have created posters to help you to design for different impairments

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  13. Solving problems for people with one arm
    solves problems for people with a broken
    arm, people with bags or people carrying

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  14. Empathise with your users

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  15. Writing in plain English

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  16. Writing with empathy is
    understanding everyone even
    though we don’t live their lives.

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  17. 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


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  18. 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

    • 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

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  19. https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/design/writing-for-user-interfaces

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  20. 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 


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  21. How to check and edit your work

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  22. 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

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  23. 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.

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  24. grammarly.com and hemingwayapp.com

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  25. 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

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  26. Thank you

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  27. @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/

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