As writers, designers, instructors, and individuals, empathy is the most vital tool we have. Without excluding anyone, inclusive writing helps us connect directly with our audience. It’s critical that we not just know but also understand our audience to the point that we can anticipate their every requirement. Empathy strengthens us, our users, our product, and the user experience as a whole.
This is something that we all understand. As UX writers, we aim to pay attention to people’s sentiments and requirements at all times. It’s critical, though, that we don’t overlook the needs of all of our users, regardless of their background, education level, ability, culture, or identity.
Below are some crucial aspects to consider when designing digital products and user experiences that are inviting to everyone who uses them to create the intended impact and build trust with our customers.
Don’t let unconscious bias get in the way of your success
We all have prejudices that affect our job, whether we like it or not, in our daily lives and our professional work. We all have privileges that influence how we approach our work, and we must do serious introspection to recognize, acknowledge, and correct our biases.
We hold our biases in our subconscious mind, which accounts for 98% of our thinking, whether we’re aware of them or not. The outcome of the brain functioning automatically to create decisions without thought is unconscious bias. Our brain instinctively deflects what we know since it is automatic.
This does not make you a bad person; instead, it makes you human. It’s critical to acknowledge these biases and privileges and apply that knowledge to modify our habits so that all users can benefit from inclusive writing.
Remove gender from the equation
Generally, some brands position themselves to serve only one gender. On the one hand, I understand. We all know that the more detailed you can be about whom you serve, the more likely you are to make a genuine connection with that ideal client the moment they visit your website. And perhaps you’ve discovered that your personality, style, or background is best suited for a particular type of client.
However, it’s essential to consider whom you might exclude when you specify your ideal client’s gender and publish it on your website.
For instance, your natural design aesthetic is more feminine if you’re a designer who primarily works with female entrepreneurs. But what if you meet a fantastic guy entrepreneur who admires your style and wants to collaborate with you? What about persons who identify as transgender, non-binary, or any of the other gender categories in our society? If your site is solely for ladies, everyone else who wants to work with you may feel uncomfortable because they don’t quite match that type.
Here’s my take: you can let your work speak for itself and communicate in a way that speaks to your ideal client without focusing on one gender in specific. When I’m writing copy for a client, that could mean reflecting their personality, values, and style in a manner conducive to their ideal client without mentioning the gender of that person.
There will always be exceptions to this rule, and if you actually only work with persons of one gender, it’s best to make that explicit on your website.
Write to empower
When someone visits our website, it’s safe to assume we don’t know everything about them. We have no idea how they grew up or what they’ve experienced. We have no idea what events formed them into the person they are now. As a result, we must avoid using language in our copy that may cause someone to feel alienated, mistreated, or misunderstood.
You may apply these ideas to almost any other human experience – race, financial level, educational background, etc. – but the most important thing is to be aware of how your words may be perceived by others who read them and edit change accordingly.
For example, regardless of a reader’s health, abilities, or condition, here are two filters to make your writing more empowering:
Identify people the way they want to be identified. Some people prefer terminology that emphasizes “people first” (for example, “people experiencing homelessness” rather than “homeless people”). Others prefer terminology that emphasizes “identification first” (for example, “disabled person” vs “a person with disabilities.”) Because this varies so much from group to group and individual to person, it’s wise to ask your audience how they want to be identified whenever possible.
Substitute more explicit terminology for ableist words. Replace “I was blind to…” with “I didn’t realize…” and “that’s insane” with “that’s unbelievable.”
You’ll be able to welcome all kinds of people to your website and make them feel really excited to work with you if you write in a way that lifts your readers rather than defining them by a predicament or a constraint.
Substitute verbs for nouns
It may probably be a lot, but it is how we communicate. We utilize verbs more often than nouns. Then why not just do the same when we write?
Write “We’ve performed an analysis of your complaint and chosen to take action,” instead of “We’ve conducted an analysis of your complaint and decided to take action.”
Notice how it also makes our writing more concise and clear?
Use easy to understand language
My editors trained me to write at a fifth-grade level when I started working as an SEO content writer. The purpose wasn’t to impress anyone with our language or technical knowledge; instead, we wanted to provide everyday people with access to meaningful information. As a result, I tried to utilize everyday language that anyone could comprehend, regardless of their educational degree or experience. As a website copywriter, I still use the same approach to create clear and easy-to-understand material for my customers’ audiences.
That’s not to imply you should eliminate all jargon and slang from your site. For example, if your target client is a photographer, you’ll almost certainly include language that relates to that person’s expertise in their field in your text.
However, by removing the burden of surprise and delighting your audience with your writing, you can concentrate on connecting with them, speaking their language, and demonstrating that you understand their perspective. And it will only increase their confidence in you as a professional and make them feel more at ease about hiring you.
We must remember why we write in the first place throughout our process: to provide an empathetic experience for every customer. Practicing inclusive writing necessitates a determined, conscious effort to ensure that no one is left out and that work begins with us. And besides, there is no universal way to express troubling thoughts.
We must keep pushing and advancing our field to provide the most excellent possible service to all of our users, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what their talents are.