Meet the Book: The Business of UX Writing
Nov 09, 2022
We can’t wait for you to read The Business of UX Writing, a new book by Yael Ben-David, launching December 6.
In the meantime, we’re giving you a peek into the book with our Meet the Book Q&A series. Read on to learn what inspired Yael to write her new book, how she chose the cover color, what part was most challenging to write, and more!
A Book Apart: What was the initial spark that motivated you to write this book?
Yael Ben-David: During lockdown, I was running on the treadmill, listening to a podcast where Torrey Podmajersky talked about writing her book, Strategic Writing for UX. I was left with this powerful feeling and thought, “I could do that!” As far as the topic, back then, I was one of the only people in the field talking about the ROI of microcopy. At first I was giving twenty-minute talks about it, then forty-minute talks, then I was asked to give a two-hour master class with O’Reilly, and I realized I had enough to say about it to fill a book! :)
A Book Apart: How long did it take you to write this book?
YBD: I’d say the actual writing was about three months, but it took four months to turn in my first draft, because in the middle of that timeline, there was a month where my entire family got COVID, one person after the next.
ABA: When/where did you feel most in a state of flow while writing this book? Least?
YBD: I was most in flow during the first draft where it was just one big brain dump. I had all these ideas I wanted to share and they just kind of came gushing out like a geyser. I was least in flow during every editing round thereafter! That’s when it felt less like fun and more like work. What kept me going though, was seeing how much better each version got when I did listen to my editors and do the work.
ABA: How did you come up with the title for this book?
YBD: The Business of UX Writing was actually the working title from the beginning. It felt catchier and more self-explanatory than “The ROI of UX Writing.” And I liked the sort of double meaning where, on one hand I was talking about business, as in an organization, and on the other hand “the business” as in, how we UX writers get things done. Toward the end of the process when it was time to choose the final title, we started a brainstorming doc where we spitballed dozens of ideas and we just kept coming back to The Business of UX Writing. It felt right.
ABA: In one sentence, what is your book’s driving, or most important, idea?
YBD: UX writing is not a “nice to have,” it’s a powerful tool for business and user success, and that can be proven.
And, that investing in UX writing to serve the user does not have to come at the expense of the business (and vice versa). There shouldn’t be a battle about whose interests matter more—the user or the business—because we are partners who succeed or fail together.
ABA: Who did you write this book for?
YBD: I wrote the book for my fellow UX writers who are still fighting the fight for a seat at the table, as well as those already there and looking to improve their game. After that, I wrote it for designers, product managers, and CEOs of small startups who don’t have a UX writer to do the work.
Lastly, I wrote it for my kids. I heard a podcast where an author was talking about what a special legacy a book is to leave for your kids, and I wanted to do that.
ABA: What part of the book was most challenging to write?
YBD: I was most stressed when I started to include examples from other people's work. I didn’t want to misrepresent their experience in even the smallest way. It was more challenging to write the last chapters than the first because I tended to get tired as I went along.
ABA: Why will readers want to learn about this topic from you?
YBD: I think I bring a really holistic view, starting by giving historical context based on research, reading and synthesizing what others had already published. I included case studies because I know those are fun to read and make the theory more memorable and easier to internalize. I also created a “ROI for UXW framework” called KAPOW, a sort of play book for people writing product copy to apply in their everyday work. I was able to bring together my research, my real lived experiences on the job, and theory I’d developed—and provide actionable takeaways. Layered among all of that is a perspective about UX writers’ contributions and value beyond writing copy, because I’ve been privileged to be able to branch out and do more strategic projects—there are lots of reasons readers might want to learn about the topic from my book!
ABA: How do you hope the web will change once people read and apply lessons in your book?
YBD: I hope that the book helps calm the tension between UX and business stakeholders. Once they realize they’re on the same team and shouldn’t be fighting for resources, but rather leveraging shared goals to make resources go farther, the web will be a more empowering, delightful, usable place.
ABA: How did you choose the cover color for this book?
YBD: I wanted green because “business” and “ROI” made me think of “money” straight off the bat, and as an American expat, when I think “money as a visual concept” I still think about green dollar bills. (Money is not all green where I live now.)
As far as which green?? I left that to expert designers I work with who I trust unconditionally. Three of them put their heads together and advised that this was the green for me and I went with it!