Error messages as poetry from Condé Nast & Zendesk

UX writing is rarely considered the most emotional expression of the written word—until two UX writing teams transformed error messages into poems.

UX writing is a labor of love. It takes tireless collaboration, patience, and experience to write straightforward, clear, and compelling UX copy. So we don’t often get to craft the most emotional—nor romantic—prose. But during our recent meetup, the Condé Nast UX Writing team and the Zendesk Content Design team challenged ourselves to write error messages as poetry.

Last week, team leads Chelsea Larsson (Zendesk) and Sophie Tahran (Condé Nast) hosted a virtual meetup, complete with icebreakers, activities, and breakout sessions for their teams to get to know each other and nerd out on all things UX content. Over the past few months, our team has started slating in some time for team meetups to round out our networks and learn from other practitioners in the field. It’s been a rewarding experience listening to, learning from, and just hanging out with people who are in love with the same discipline—and we’re ready to make it a habit.

Beyond talking shop, a few planned activities helped us get to know one another. One of the first items on the agenda was—what else?—a creative writing exercise. The prompt was simple:

Participants were asked to write an error message that could be found in a product but also works as a poem. The bonus was to include “Try again” in a novel way.
Participants were asked to write an error message that could be found in a product but also works as a poem. The bonus was to include “Try again” in a novel way.

And the results were—well, we’ll let you see for yourself…

By Diana Oum
By Sammie Spector

 

By Christine Tancinco

 

By Danielle Vargas

 

By V Sri

 

By Nina Hoy

 

By Sophie Tahran

 

By Sonia Mansfield

 

 

By Christian DePape

 

By Vanessa Schuller

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