Thinking how to build a UX writing portfolio without UX background or prior experience? I have some suggestions for a beginner.
Building a UX writing portfolio without Experience
- Create your own work
Like aspiring designers who design new products, redesign existing applications and websites to build their portfolios, you could also rewrite interface copy and headlines in products that require improvements. Even without actual client briefs, you could still come up with your own. Here are the steps you could take:
Make up a fictitious product, service or company
Utilize your creativity and create a brief to design against. For example, you could write an interface copy for an interactive mirror that informs you about the news.
Rewrite the microcopy for an existing product or service of a company
Conduct user research to understand the current problems that the users are facing and translate those issues into the solution of interface copy. For example, you could rewrite Ikea’s error copy if it seems off-target.
Regardless of the direction you chose, attempt to go holistic if you could with your writing and thought process. Clearly show all the steps you are taking towards the solution and ensure that you document the justification for the redesign and defense of your choices thoroughly. Also, make it clear that this is all conceptual for your case study.
Many startups or non-profit organizations require help to put together a website, a blog – anything, but they do not have the budget to hire a UX writer or they might not know what UX means. You could reach out to these organizations, explain how you could help them, and request to publish the project with the documented process on your portfolio. This approach kills two birds with one stone – UX writing exercise on a live project and satisfied companies.
If you have no idea which organizations you could volunteer to help write an interface copy, check out these volunteering opportunities.
- Join a UX writing course/Hackathons
UX writing course
UX writing classes could give you a comprehensive view of the writing and thought process you could use to deliver great experiences for your users. Look for practical UX writing courses that will not only explain the types of UX writing methods but will also let you put what you have learned into practice and tackle real projects throughout the duration of the class which you could document the process and build your portfolio. Throughout the course, you could also seek feedback and critiques from experienced UX writers, designers, developers on your work.
You could also request feedback and critiques online too. Find a relevant Slack group or visit an online community but be courteous and offer your own opinions and critique for others’ work too as people like others who would reciprocate.
A hackathon is usually a one to three days long competition where UX designers, writers, developers, software programmers, come together to design something. Joining a hackathon could help you build your UX writing portfolio in a short period of time, as well as learning from inspirational and experienced people, thereby growing your network at the same time.
Here is a list of hackathons you could participate in
- Attempt UX writing into current work
You could try and include UX writing into your projects for your current work even though your job description does not necessarily spell out anything about interface copy. You could also look around your company’s departments and other teams to see where a UX writing audit may help support your company’s internal goals and user goals. As such, you could use these opportunities to build on your portfolio.
- Engage in a side hustle
Joining as a freelance UX writer could expose you to more significant projects where you build your experiences and document the process to your portfolio. However, bear in mind that you should have an honest conversation with your client that you have limited experience in UX, and you are trying to build your portfolio.
UX writing internships
Being a UX writer intern could help you to accumulate experiences in the field and build your portfolio gradually as you have smaller responsibilities and the opportunities to learn from your mistakes without the risk of losing your job. Over time, you may have accumulated enough experience to get hired.
Here is a comprehensive list of companies across the globe that hire UX writers. Check out the website to find open positions.
What to include in your UX writing portfolio
- Business challenges/pain points to improve with good UX writing
The business challenges or pain points could be something as straightforward as a few sentences in bullet points that indicate the problems you are trying to solve with UX writing.
- Your approach
You can showcase a variety of samples across different types of user interface copy, specifically menus, forms, tooltips, errors, notifications, setting, user onboarding, landing pages, product-generated emails. Pay attention to the fonts and color palette used. Even if you are not interested in UI (user interface) or graphic design, it is however crucial to have a visually pleasing portfolio. Pay attention to the structure of your favorite portfolios. For example, Matt Harris uses the dark mode for his portfolio, organizes, and presents his work that makes the information easily accessible.
- Your UX writing process
Document the lessons learned and the compromises that you have undertaken that improve the product such as the decision makings that you went through and how you came to your conclusions.
- Results from your UX writing
Include the feedback or critique you have received from your users, clients, mentors, or companies. Define the timeline when your microcopy was completed and the methods or metrics you use to evaluate the results of your labor. For example, how do you track the user engagement from your website interface copy? Is there a percentage increase that meets the business objectives?
Your UX writing portfolio should present yourself in the best possible light and even experienced senior UX writers need to prove what they can do. Start and create something amazing today!