I believe in starting a conversation with fellow UX professionals and learning from their experiences. Making their perspectives available to the whole community is one step forward in spreading the message about the importance of UX. That’s why I have started a project of #UXFika – lightweight conversations with inspiring UX leaders over a cup of coffee (or two!).

This week’s special UXFika guest is Anjana Menon – Senior UX Writer in the Growth team at Spotify.

The way we speak to the user defines the way the user behaves towards our product. That’s why I truly believe that the level of communication shall be understandable and human to create a bond with your user. That’s why this UX Fika is about how words embody just as much design ethic as a wireframe.

Every word counts. So let’s get started.

Anjana, how did you get into the world of UX writing?

It was a complete accident. I was working at an Indian startup, Zomato, where I joined as a content person – writing all the user-facing content, overseeing content strategy, mentoring people. It was an important learning period for me. After 3 intense and interesting years there I joined the corporate world with PayPal. That’s where I became a content designer with a structured team! It was a natural transition without me realizing it.

In one single word, what does UX copy mean to you?

Clarity. That’s what it is.

You are currently a senior UX Writer at Spotify, can you share what a day in your life is like?

I feel like everyday is very different. Spotify is structured in a way that you get to work with a lot of different projects at the same time. I help with new market launches, releasing new features and I work on Spotify Lite – a lighter version of the app for older phones, and/or network problems.

I start my day by checking email and Slack – I’m not an early bird so I have a fair bit to get through by the time I start my day. I then follow up with designers, read through documents with research info, which is super relevant for my work. It’s only with this you can form a coherent messaging strategy and write for the user. I’m also involved in a lot of usability testing which helps me understand the audience.

Being part of usability testing shows you how people react to your design and words, and I tend to look at things from a messaging perspective so I can structure the narrative.

My process isn’t always the same but it’s a lot of collaboration with product, design, research, engineering, understanding what they do, and then getting down and dirty with the content.

My team at Spotify are great at including me in every stage of the process. They know it’s all about getting the right message at the right time.

How do you make content strategy and copywriting part of the UX process? And has it always been like that at Spotify?

We are in a state where design and copy are two sides of the coin. At the moment we are 15 people. The copy is just so essential part of the overall strategy at Spotify–and it was like that when I joined. We don’t work in our bubble and create copy without understanding what is happening within the rest of the business. My manager did a great job in educating the value we bring in the product.

In general, there are two ways to go forward when building the content strategy in your organization. You can either have someone senior coming into the company and leading it, or bringing in one person who kicks this off, but both involve a lot of hard work and educating people of the value of the craft. It’s also difficult to pin down a monetary value to what we do, so it’s no easy feat.

We sometimes treat content as icing on the cake. Why do some companies still underestimate the content being the core element in their design strategy?

I honestly believe that UX writing or content design is where UX design was 10 years ago. People didn’t know what it was. They just think it’s just writing header texts, CTAs, but they sometimes could underestimate how difficult it is to get it right. I think it’s also pretty common to be business-focussed instead of user-focussed.

On the upside, you can see that a lot of big companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, PayPal are building big teams and dedicating a lot of resources to building out their teams – so there’s hope!

Which comes first: content or layout? Or neither?

Chicken and egg situation if you ask me. Sometimes, it can be a design-first project or a content-first project. Either way, there’s a lot of collaboration between the designer and writer. Two pieces of a puzzle that are essential!

What is your biggest microcopy success story?

I worked on a project for PayPal which offered debit cards to the underbanked. The entire order flow was super interesting to work on – it started with being able to order the card online, to tracking where the card was, and being able to reorder it or redeliver it within a specific time period. I can’t really go into details but it the messaging strategy was so important here. It’s been one of my favourite projects to work on.

Extra bits

Where do you look for writing inspiration:

I get inspired from apps I use daily every day around us (emails, other brands). I also think MailChimp, Dropbox, and Airbnb are great examples.

What do you like and hate most about UX writing?

I love everything about it although I’m beginning to get a bit annoyed with justifying my job to others, haha!

Share your fave microcopy example:

This little gem from Spotify when you like a song and “un-like” it right away, it says: let’s pretend that never happened! (I didn’t write this.)

Your favorite book

Content Design by Sara Richards

About the UX Fika Series

In UX Fika series of blog posts, I talk with people that inspire me and whom I look up to as my role-models. The motivation behind doing this is, you might see some patterns and hopefully you’d be able to learn from the amazing people that I have had a chance of learning from.

For my international friends, FIKA is a Swedish concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea). With no rush, full immersion and being present in the moment. That’s why I thought “UXFika” is a perfect name for meaningful conversation with UX leaders I look up to.

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Want to take part in UX Fika and share your story?

I always proactively get in touch with industry leaders and interesting people! If you would like to have a Fika with me, get in touch. Drop me a message here.

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