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UX Writing OKRs

Some people measure their success based on feedback or their own feelings; others don't worry about it all, trusting the process. Others still create spreadsheets tracking specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).

As a UX Writer, it can be a bit tricky to measure my impact. Unless I run an intense study measuring time and eye tracking, it won't be easy to pinpoint and say, "Look, adding this subtitle made this screen 52% more understandable." Likewise, I can't necessarily set myself a goal of, say, having perfect copy on 100% of screens.

But this is thinking about it the wrong way. In UX writing, there are two ways to measure success: subjective and objective indicators. Let's talk about both.

Subjective Indicators

Don't discount the evidence from your own eyes. Metrics are very important (we'll get to that in the next section) but in something like writing, it's important to look at the big picture.

Does the design team have a better understanding of how to write good copy? Do they see the value of UX writing?

Are flows easier to understand when showing them to someone for the first time? Are internal stakeholders more likely to be on the same page about what a feature does?

These are broad questions with answers that can't be empirically answered, and that's okay. It's kind of the point. No matter what your job is, chances are you have a decent understanding of how it's going. But UX Writers are often working on so many projects at once, that it's easy to miss out on the progress they've made.

A mentor once recommended that I create a presentation once a month, purely for myself, that documents what I've accomplished. I was skeptical at first, especially since a quick reflection on the past few weeks made me think I hadn't accomplished anything. But once I devoted some time to considering the past month, a lot of little wins popped up: growing a better relationship with someone on the team, completing research on an important project, QA-ing major flows, polishing up some screens, etc.

It's now something I make myself do on a regular basis. Not only does it make me think about what has worked and what hasn't, but it helps prevent burnout; I see what I've accomplished, and it encourages me to keep going.

Objective Indicators

That's all well and good, but what about specific goals? How can a UX Writer present proof of their impact on a resume or in an interview? How can they track whether they're moving towards a specific goal?

This is really a two part question: how can you set goals, and how can you know they're working?

I've found OKRs helpful for answering both of these parts. This shouldn't be a shocker; I work for Gtmhub, an OKR software solution. But let's be honest: before I got started, I saw OKRs the same way I saw KPIs and basic reporting: nice in principle, but rarely followed.

Call me converted. When OKRs are actually followed, goals and tracking become clear and easier to reach.

As a UX Writer, your Objective could be something fairly broad, like Make the product more understandable. Key Results, on the other hand, are specific indicators of how you'll decide whether you've accomplished that Objective. For example:

  • 100% of designers can write clear, relevant copy

  • 50% of screens have undergone content QA

  • Content guidelines are written for 75% of components

You can drill down even deeper. To help designers write better, maybe you should hold workshops or one on one training sessions. For QA, is that something you can do on your own or requires the help of research and support?

It can lead down a path of details, but that's the point: by laying out one or two Objectives a quarter (and aligning them to the higher-level Objectives of my company), I'm forced to think about how I can accomplish that. It not only encourages accountability, but action.

Don't be afraid to get creative with it. Good UX writing can lead to less support tickets; compare the data on screens you've improved to those you haven't. Maybe you have the capability of A/B testing and can see how proper content affects the completion rate.

To Summarize

If you're worried about making sure you're being effective, trust two things: your gut, and the data. Set clear Objectives so that you'll have a higher chance of success, ask for feedback, and keep writing.


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