It’s not easy being a remote UX writer.
UX writing is a fast growing field, but job opportunities for remote ux writers are still less common than for UX designer or copywriter jobs.
Why is that the case? According to a few recent interviews Gordon Macrae conducted with UX hiring managers in Silicon Valley, the reason for fewer remote UX writer opportunities is that the role of UX is really a “contact sport.”
According to one hiring manager, the writing portion of the job equates to only 10% of the actual role.
While it’s true that actual writing time is only a small part of the UX writer’s job (just like actual coding time is only a portion of a software engineer’s job), that doesn’t mean that a remote employee couldn’t deal with the daily challenges of a UX writing position.
The future of remote UX writers
I’ve asked plenty of companies hiring UX writers if they would consider remote employees. I got a lot of “no”. But I also heard some encouraging responses, like “not now, but hopefully next year”.
Not great news now, but a good sign that things may move in a remote-friendly direction soon.
If you’re hoping to work as a remote UX writer, or if you’re looking to put together a proposal to turn a non-remote job into a remote one, you’ll want to understand how you can take what is typically an in-person role and turn it virtual.
Remote UX writing tasks
Let’s break down just a few tasks of the UX writing job and talk about what can be done remotely.
#1 UI Text & Microcopy
This is what many people think of when they think of UX writing, although it’s only a small piece of the puzzle.
Microcopy includes all the screen text a user encounters when using an app. Can this be done remotely? Of course!
With tools like Sketch, Figma, and Invision it’s entirely possible to not only write copy remotely but also to incorporate copy into the wireframes and test it alongside design.
#2 Brand Voice & Tone Guides
If you’re going to be creating a brand voice & tone guide, you’ll probably need to conduct some interviews with stakeholders and other key members of the team who have a say in brand voice and tone, and who also know what will resonate with customers.
The good news is that you can easily conduct face to face interviews with tools like Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing software.
#3 User Research
With the abundance of tools such as Zoom for remote user testing and Hotjar for heat mapping, online user research can be a remote-friendly responsibility.
While many companies will have dedicated UX researchers on the team, sometimes UX writers participate in this task, so it’s good to know what tools you can use to get the job done.
#4 Design Meetings & Team Communication
True, there is no way to concurrently be in the same room as someone who’s 500 miles away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a valuable meeting.
Again, we can look to our video conferencing tools for meetings, and tools like Slack for easy and consistent communication.
Other areas where team communications can go virtual are in tasks such as planning design sprints, mapping out projects, and also file sharing.
Tools like Trello and Jira are great planning and tracking tools for in-person and remote teams. Tools like Github, Bitbucket, and Google Drive make version control and sharing files a breeze.
In large companies, meetings are often conducted via video chat from different buildings on the same campus. Many teams are already comfortable working this way—there’s no friction for them as long as everyone uses the time wisely and meets their deadlines..
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of never being in the same room as your co-workers either. With the savings on overhead that a company can gain from not having to pay for office space, many remote companies opt for in-person meetups a couple times a year for team-building.
Good habits for remote workers
While probably self-explanatory, here are some ways you can be a stellar remote employee and alleviate your hiring manager’s fears about working virtually.
- Be a proactive participant by calling meetings and sharing your work.
- Be on time to all meetings and calls. Adjust your time schedule to align with your company’s base office hours so they never have to worry that you can’t make the time.
- Be available on all channels during normal business hours.
- Be a professional communicator and participate to the fullest with your team regardless of whether you’re on a monitor or in the room.
- Get your work done by the due date. Always respond in a timely manner.
- Keep your team consistently apprised by regularly documenting everything you do in status reports. If they don’t know what you’re working on, they might assume you’re not working!
One last bonus tip – If the remote lifestyle is calling your name, and you haven’t been able to land a permanent remote job, consider freelancing.
While you have to put in some extra effort finding clients and selling your services, you’re in control of your own schedule and can create business opportunities for yourself.
Make no mistake, the freelance life isn’t for everyone, and it can be a lot of work, but with that work comes a lot of freedom.
It might be worth giving it a try while you wait for the UX industry to catch up with the trend towards remote work.
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