Writers of Silicon Valley Podcast: Kathryn Strauss transcript

Writers of Silicon Valley Podcast: Kathryn Strauss transcript

Patrick interviews Kathryn Strauss, Senior UX Writer at Square about how writers can participate in UX research, the future of the industry, and the types of skills it takes to be a really good UX Writer and Content Strategist.

Patrick Stafford
June 4, 2020


Writers of Silicon Valley is a UX writing podcast featuring interviews with content strategists and UX writers from around the world.

The UX Writers Collective is proud to host transcripts for every episode.

Kathryn Strauss is a veteran of the industry and an expert at what she does.

Currently a Senior UX Writer at Square, her background extends far beyond that with roles at Wells Fargo, US Bank, WebEx, Glassdoor and Weebly.

To listen to this episode, find Writers of Silicon Valley wherever you listen to podcasts:

This episode was originally hosted at Writers of Silicon Valley.

Are you interested in becoming a UX writer? Check out our online, self-paced range of courses

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Patrick:

I’d really love to hear more about how you started doing what you’re doing, and obviously you didn’t start doing this. So where would you say that your career began?

Kathryn:

Great question. My story is actually pretty familiar one, at least when I tell it to other UX writers, they tend to nod their heads and say, yes, I had a similar background, so you may recognise some elements in my story. I studied English and Linguistics in school, I worked as a journalist for a while. My foray into technology was as a technical writer around the time of the first dotcom. From tech writing, it was just a natural progression of content related roles, roles that we would think of that aren’t really, terms that aren’t really used today, but at the time we were called information architects, content managers, instructional designers, those sorts of things, online help developers.

So I progressed through those various roles, until about 10 years ago, when I became officially a UX designer. I think that’s where my background varies who are UX writing today, is they don’t have the years of experience in UX design that I was fortunate to have, all of those years out here in the Bay area. I’d like to think that I’ve always been a writer, even when I was a UX designer, because I have an aversion to lorem ipsum, and whatever I would display my designs and go into design critiques, I always had the words, and people started noticing that I didn’t only have the designs, but I had the words in place, and they informed so much of what I did. So I became I would say a hybrid UX designer/UX writer, more than three or four years ago, being the point person for a lot of writing questions and just feeling that my designs weren’t complete until I had the word in.

Patrick:

I think it’s interesting, you’re a unique person I think in this industry, because you meet a lot of UX writers, they’ve got some UX design background, so they’ve either worked with designers, they may have done a general assembly course or something like that, so they have a little bit of background, but they’re not really steeped in it. Or, you go to other way, where you have UX designers, who have done that for a long time, and then over time they work with copywriters and they learn a little bit about copy and how it work and so on.

But you’re really steeped in both, you started as a journalist, so did I by the way, so I think we have that in common, and you have that real background in words and linguistics, and then you also actually worked as a UX designer. So it’s interesting that you’ve got these two hand in hand.

This is a bit of a reductive question, but which do you think is the harder discipline?

Kathryn:

Wow, that is a tough question. Harder is a very abstract word, I think for me it was more difficult to do the UX design, because of visual design requirements, I wasn’t as strong in visual design as I would’ve liked to have been. But I have to tell you, when I’m wrangling words every day, I find that it’s the hardest work that I have done in a long time. I’m heads down in a lot of microcopy right now, so I’m practising writing in tiny, tiny spaces for a new product that we have that’s quite minimalistic, very little room for words, and it takes every bit of mental energy that I have to finesse and to choose the perfect words.

Patrick:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I think as UX writers we have to deal with space constraints a lot more than visual designers do. They may disagree with that, but that’s certainly been my experience. What’s interesting about your history is that you said that you began as a journalist and then you moved into technical writing, and that was around the first dotcom boom.

I’m interested to talk to you about that, because last week I spoke to Roy West from Uber, and he obviously has a huge background in technical writing, and he came to San Francisco in the 80s. So he’s seen the rise of personal computing, and then well into the dotcom boom as well. There are a lot of younger UX writers, like myself, who weren’t around during that time, or at least weren’t cognizant of what was happening. 

So during that time, during the dotcom boom when you were working in technical writing, first of all, what was the general mood like? Is it comparable to what was going on in Silicon Valley a few years ago, with the rise of venture capital? How was technical writing being treated as a discipline, was it being seen as something critical to the product process, or was it more of an offshoot that came afterwards, and was more like a separate thing?

Kathryn:

Great question. I think the mood at that time was a little less frenetic, and a little more focused on long term results. I remember having much more time to think and create and write 20 years ago than I do now, with Agile and the kind of delivery schedules that we’re on right now.

But technical writing was definitely a valued part of software development 20 years ago. I was really, really lucky to start at a company, in Charlotte, North Carolina actually, that was a software integration company, and we were creating financial software. We had a team of tech writers of about, I think it must have been 20 of us, for this company of about 2000, and we definitely were involved in the process. We weren’t really writing the words on the interface, but we were documenting the technology, the functional specs, the technical specs, and things like that, for the developers.

Then it shifted, and we all got into RoboHelp, when RoboHelp first came out. I don’t remember the year it came out, RoboHelp is a tool to develop online help systems. Of course, our software is supposed to be so intuitive that you wouldn’t need an online help system, but back in those days, writing online help was probably the closest thing that we got to UX writing today, because when you’re writing an online help system, you’re communicating directly with the user at the pain points, and you’re having to write instructions, and you’re having to do it in short spaces and small concrete chunks. That was where I think my ability to synthesise information and communicate it concisely was probably honed, in that time when we were all working on help systems.

I think Microsoft bought RoboHelp, probably around the time it bought Visio, and it sort of faded out of the picture, you don’t see a lot of applications with built in online help these days. It’s all surface now, it’s come to the UI level, and it’s integrated into the design.

So yeah, it was sort of, you mentioned Roy West, Roy is a friend of mine and we definitely share some background and perspectives on the changes that have happened in the industry over the last 20 years, have been pretty fascinating.

Patrick:

It’s just interesting to see that context as well, because when you were starting as technical writers, one of the things that he was saying is that there was this really, particularly at NeXT Computing where he was, there was this need for help documents to be as intuitive and user friendly as possible, and you really see that as a precursor to UX writing.

But it’s interesting, this is something I want to get your opinion on, because I talk to a lot of UX writers and they all have a different opinion about what UX writing is. For a lot of people it’s just microcopy, for a lot of people it’s about providing the user with an intuitive experience. For another person it might be providing a comprehensive experience through a full design, so there are all these different definitions of what it is.

Do you see modern UX writing as an extension of what you were doing with your technical writing, or do you see it as an altogether different discipline that might be informed by that, but definitely not defined by it?

Kathryn:

Definitely the latter, it is a different beast than technical writing. I just have this sort of spidey sense, I can tell when I’m shifting into technical writing or shifting into marketing copy, it’s just something that I can sense I’m doing, when I begin to write about the system and the system is working, and why you might’ve gotten an error message, it feels more like tech writing. When I’m beginning to write about why you should write this product and how great it’s going to be for you, then I’m shifting more into marketing style of writing.

So there’s this gap between, that’s a unique gap, that we’re called to fill, at a very lucky time in which people realise how important it is. I feel like UX writing is just getting its sea legs and it’s just deciding what it wants and where it’s going to go. It’s an exciting time, but it’s a bit confusing.

Patrick:

Yeah, and I almost wonder what’s going to happen with it, because you look on LinkedIn for instance, and there are massive companies that are now looking for UX writers. So about a month ago, you went onto LinkedIn, and Google, Spotify, I can’t remember off the top of my head now, but a bunch of big companies are looking for UX writers and still are if you go on there. I checked yesterday and there’s about 100 open positions for UX writers in the United States right now, and more across the world. And I think okay, that’s not really a lot, that’s not a lot of positions, and the type of schools they’re looking for are particularly unique.

So I just think, is this a niche industry that’s only going to remain niche? Or, as it often happens, is this going to trickle down from Silicon Valley to other companies, and are they going to recognise the benefits of having a dedicated UX writer, and is the market going to explode. What do you think?

Kathryn:

I think the market is confused right now, and it’s deciding what it wants, and wherever goes the Bay area, goes the rest of the world. So I think if it’s expanding here in the Bay area, it’s probably going to expand, and we see it expanding as well in Europe and Australia. I feel that we’ve got a good run ahead of us, whether it’s going to be a sustained part of the UX sort of cadre of professionals, I’m not sure if it’s going to last or if it will blend into another role. We sort of see a lot of shifting over the years in UX roles, so a lot of people who were UX content strategists have shifted more into a role as a pure I guess, UX writers, if I can use that controversial term.

We’ll see how it all goes, I’m excited and I don’t think the tide is going out yet at all. I think it’s still a very exciting time. One of the problems that we’re facing I would say is that, the kinds of people that they’re looking for, they’re looking for people with more experience than people have at the moment, given how young a profession it is. So while we’ve had copy writers for a long time, we’ve had technical writers and marketing copy writers, and we’ve even had for most large enterprises, I used to work for Cisco, and Cisco had a very large copy team who were the copy for the UI. So essentially, those individuals are UX writers, they weren’t called that at the time.

I think it’s wide open, but companies are looking for people who have four to five years experience in this very specific, now narrowed field, and I’m not sure they’re going to find them.

Patrick:

Yeah, and I think the other problem is that we haven’t really figured out what the job title should be. Because if you go on LinkedIn and you look up, I say there’s only 75 or 100 positions for UX writers in the States, but if you then search for content designer or content strategist, the skills they’re looking for are almost the same, and they’re looking for the same background. For instance, my job title is a digital copy writer, but the work I’m doing is UX writing, I’m part of the UX team.

So I think people are still trying to figure out what exactly they’re looking for. In fact, sometimes I read job adds and I think, you don’t know what you’re looking for, because you’re saying this person should be a content strategist, but then you’re not asking them to do any wider content strategy. I think that’s informed by the fact that we have so many writers who are trying to adapt to the new world we have right now, so we have old school SEO bloggers, who are now trying to get into UX writing who don’t have any UX experience. We have technical writers who are also trying to get into UX writing, who perhaps have a closer relationship to UX writing, but again, they don’t necessarily have that experience with the UX design team.

So I think it’s a bit of a mess right now, I think.

Kathryn:

Well put, it is messy. And that’s one of the reasons that I like to refer to the title as UX writer, because I think that having a UX background, having exposure to UX, having practised UX, is really essential to being successful. It’s called product writer, content strategist, and so many different terms, but I’m trying to be consistent in my use of the term. As you know, I started a meetup in San Francisco, and we call it UX writers, the San Francisco UX writers meetup group, because we’re trying to standardise on that name and avoid confusion. And yet, if you go and take a poll of the members, almost 800 members now, you would find all kinds of job titles.

Patrick:

I’m glad you mentioned the meetup, because I want to get to that later. First though, I want to talk about the work that you’re doing now at Square. I know that you didn’t start at Square, you were at a company that was acquired, and now you’re in the Square team. Is that right?

Kathryn:

That’s correct, yes.

Patrick:

Cool. I’d love to hear about the type of work you’re doing now, what your team is like, and what is a day in the life of a UX writer at Square look like.

Kathryn:

Sure. Well we were acquired by Square about three months ago, and we’re still sort of not fully integrated into the larger company. Part of what I’m working on, I would say about 30% of what I’m working on, is aligning our processes and our standards with those of Square, so that we can function as one entity, so that we can have a unified voice across all of our products. So I would say, I spend about 30% of my time on sort of, almost a role of content strategist, creating a design system that takes into account Weebly’s voice, Weebly is the former company, and integrates that into Square’s overall more professional voice and tone.

That’s an interesting challenge, I’m working with some awesome writers at Square. Then I spend, really the bulk of my time, writing. I’m really in the weeds these days, writing copy. When I’m not writing copy, I am involved in user testing, going through user research, and also spending a lot of time maintaining my ecosystem, and that’s all the reference tools, the wonderful things that people like John Saito and Andrea Gervais have suggested, that we build, to be just a support system for our writing, so things like thesaurus, microcopy style guide, those sorts of things, I spent a lot of time finessing and working on those.

Patrick:

That’s great, the governance part is really important. So as part of your team, are you working hand in hand with designers and developers? Are you part of a separate group? How does the structure work in terms of your interaction with your colleagues?

Kathryn:

Yeah, great question. I am a designer, my title is designer, under the new Square titling system, and I’m I guess bonafide member of the design team. I report to the design director, I attend all the meetings with the designers. That was something that I worked out in my initial discussions as I was talking about my job and the role I would have with this company, I knew then that I wanted to be considered a designer and work hand in hand with design, from beginning to end, and I knew that that was the most successful way for UX writers to operate.

So we sort of built in that agreement and that understanding from the minute I was hired that, and my manager and the team leads were onboard with me being a full fledged member of the design team. So that has worked out beautifully, and the support that I get from them is fantastic.

I would like to work on our ratio of writers to designers, it’s currently 1 to about 12. So we’re really trying to figure out, at this point, we’ve got things rolling very smoothly at Weebly, and we want to roll that into our acquisition by Square, and see what kind of great things we can have happen with this larger company.

Patrick:

It’s interesting that you talk about managing the tone and voice there, because for a lot of writers that’s a big challenge, moving from one tone of voice to another, and if you don’t have experience in a bunch of different contexts, that can be a problem. I’m guessing here that your journalism background played a large part in being able to switch, because I know from personal experience, as a journalist, you have to adopt a bunch different tones for whatever piece it is that you’re writing.

Has that come into play with the type of work that you’re doing now? It must be incredibly difficult to go from this company, which has this one brand, this one persona, and now you have to move into, as you said, this larger, perhaps a little bit more professional tone, and you’re shifting focus. I’d be interested to hear a little bit more about that, and your challenges there.

Kathryn:

Yeah, we talk about this all the time when I meet with the writers at Square. We’re all of the same mind, that we want to collaborate to get to this consistent tone of voice. The journalism helped a lot, and another thing that helped is that I have worked for financial institutions before, so I really get the language, and I get the importance of establishing a sense of trust. We talk about it in some very abstract ways, but we also talk about it in very specific ways, such as we’re talking about it capitalization right now. Weebly has always used a sentence cap guideline, and Square uses a more traditional title cap, with the more traditional AP style rules for capitalization. So capitalization is a little bit different. With the sentence cap, we’ve got a little friendlier, a little more conversational. With the title cap, you’ve got a little more of a gravitas.:

Working through something as simple as capitalization is one of the challenges that we’re facing, we’re looking at things like when do we put periods. At Weebly, we like to drop the periods on phrases, and we just like to put things out there without a lot of punctuation. Again, because it’s a more friendly, colloquial, kind of, we’re here to help you build your eCommerce website. That’s another concrete difference that we have, that we’re trying to work through, what’s the best in the end, what’s going to end up in our overall global style guide.

So in some ways it’s glamorous, in other ways we’re just hacking through the typical stuff that you have to decide when you’re building out a style guide.

Patrick:

Yeah, it is fun. I’m going through something similar at the moment. One of the things I really love doing, when it comes to that sort of thing, is taking quite a broader view. I think in the UX writing community right now, I’m particularly struck by the number of people who equate UX writing with microcopy and only microcopy, and it’s really just one part of the UX writing experience. So if you go into Medium for instance, and you look up, what is UX writing, what is a UX writer and so on, there’s so much focus on this microcopy.

But, when it comes to adopting a wider tone, and this is why I asked you this question, there are so many more questions when it comes to word choice, and phrasing, and as you mentioned, punctuation is a big part of that, but it’s also talking to the motivations of your users. For instance, the motivations of a Weebly user will be different to those of a Square user. They might be businesses, they might be small businesses, they might share a lot of the same things, but they certainly have very different characteristics.

So I’m glad to hear you say that you’re spending a lot of time on the research, because obviously that’s a huge part of working with any brand like that.

Kathryn:

Absolutely, absolutely. We’ve got a lot of people working on voice and tone, so it’s not just on my shoulders or on the shoulders of the writers, but it’s also on, with our marketing and brand teams, to try to figure out how to try to understand the blended set of users that we’re going to have once we unite these two companies.

I’d like to write about it in the future, because it’s becoming a very common challenge, as companies get acquired and try to blend their user sets. So once I get the solutions and know some of the answers, look for a Medium article on that. That’s definitely been a process that’s been very informative for me.

Patrick:

It’s interesting though, because you mentioned the user research, and you’re getting involved in user testing and so on. How involved are you in that part of it? Because I think that’s something that a lot of UX writers unfortunately don’t get a lot of experience with. So are you sort of creating tasks and implementing them, what’s your role in that?

Kathryn:

I am extremely involved, probably overly involved in user research. By chance, I happened to sit beside the user research team, so we’re constantly aware of what each other is doing. But I also just so I have my own copy, that I need tested, and what I’ll do is sort of look around for the best tool, talk to the researchers about the best tools for testing my copy, and we might do some discrete testing on particular bits of copy.

But the thing that I think is most effective in working with the researchers right now is that our researchers are extremely dedicated to asking questions about copy, doing their qualitative testing. I have to say that I’ve worked with a lot with our researchers to try to encourage that, to show them the importance of that, and now it’s just second nature.

So yeah, I’ll sit in on user research sessions, usually once or twice a week. That’s a lot, it’s a big commitment, it’s a couple of hours a week, simply because I learn a tremendous amount. If there’s one thing I could recommend that UX writers do, is to get as closely involved with your researchers as possible, carve out that time, spend that time watching the videos, if you can’t be there in person. 

There’s nothing better than the words of the user themselves, coming out of their mouths, and seeing what they call things. Because we can go back and forth all day long on what’s the best term, but when you put it in front of a user and the user doesn’t understand the word at all, then you have to make your decisions at that point.

Patrick:

Exactly. Yeah, the research thing is really interesting, and it’s something that honestly really bothers me, because I talk to a lot of UX writers and they’ll say, they’re either not allowed to take part in the research, so it’s something that at a cultural level, or structural level rather, they’re not able to take part it. They’re not interested in taking part in the research, because they don’t they’ll find anything new, or they simply don’t have the resources. They don’t have a research team, and they’re not able to do that.

And it’s sad, because to me, as a UX writer, I think that the research piece is fundamental, I think it’s a pillar of the role, and to not be involved in that, I think you’re just missing out on so many opportunities to make your product better.

Kathryn:

Absolutely, it’s a huge loss. If there is a writer on a team that doesn’t have a UX researcher, there are ways to do your own research, even without a dedicated researcher. As long as you can get a little bit of budget, you can go on UsabilityHub and do some quick gorilla testing, sort of just ask for it, demand it, I would say. It’s indispensable, absolutely.

Patrick:

One of the things we’re doing right now at MYOB, is we’re conducting user testing sessions specifically on copy, and they’re going to be in person focus groups. One of the great things about that is we’re able to use specific techniques and tasks that you wouldn’t necessarily get the time for in a testing session where you’re looking at visuals as well.

It’s a huge benefit, and I realise not everyone has it, but there are definitely ways of getting around it. You don’t really need all that much money, you don’t really need all that much time. Even if you just do one session, where you try and cover as many topics as possible, that can inform your design later on. If you don’t have the opportunity to do multiple testing sessions, you can just do one big one and then go from there.

Kathryn:

I guarantee you it’s life changing to be a participant and observer in the user testing. I think over about more than anything, that’s affected and improved my skill set, has been being involved in user research. I can’t recommend it enough.

Incidentally, we have a meetup coming up, covering testing UX copy, that’s September 12th I think, and it will be in the Bay area. But as usual, we post all of our presentations online, so there will be some juicy stuff coming out of that, that will help people.

Patrick:

Excellent. I’m really looking forward to that. I think the more we can learn about user research and testing the better.

What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned in UX writing so far, having gone through all your different disciplines, coming to UX writing, what do you think is the biggest thing you’ve had to learn, or the biggest learning you’ve had over time?

Kathryn:

Prove yourself early, prove your value early. So go in, and because it’s kind of a new field and everyone might not be aware of it, go in and make sure everyone understands what it is that you do. I started out with having some sessions about what is UX writing, and what do I do, why am I here, what do I do all day long, and how can this help you. That was hugely instrumental in getting people on board with my role here.

So yeah, prove yourself and get some early wins, show your value, and once you get people on your side and supporting you, then it’s so much easier from there.

Patrick:

Exactly. That’s why I think more UX writers need to involved in the practicalities of what they’re doing, particularly when it comes to the types of tools that enable them to show their value. For instance, A/B testing, so I meet a lot of writers who they’ll write for A/B tests, but they won’t necessarily have hands on experience with tools like Optimizely or Target, they won’t understand the fundamentals of how that works.

Now listen, I’m not a great coder, I have very fundamental HTML and CSS skills, but I can go into Optimizely, I can set up a test, I can understand how it all works, and I can really get into the weeds with it, and at least I can have that conversation with the developer, where I can say, I can do this but I can’t do this, can you help me. I think that not enough writers are getting into those tools, and it’s a shame, because they’re missing out on an opportunity to really, as you said, show their value.

Kathryn:

Exactly. It takes time. I think it takes time for people to just get their sea legs and just feel comfortable in what they’re doing. There is a whole world of tools out there, a whole world of skillsets, UX writing is really a very complicated and complex field.

So I would say that, if you can’t code, that’s fine, but definitely make friends with someone who can. That’s just a great way to sell yourself, in terms of your position and what you’re doing.

Patrick:

I always bring it back to the idea of language. Not coding languages, but in terms of the types and languages that you and I would speak every day. I view the relationship between the writing and coding and design and so on, as these different languages. The more you can speak of different language, the easier time you’re going to have.

So I don’t need to know all my Italian in order to have a conversation with someone, but I need to know a few words. So I need to know for instance, what is Java Script, what is HTML, what is CSS, what do all of those do, what are their advantages, what are their disadvantages, if you look at some code, can you roughly figure out what it means. Now, it doesn’t mean that you need to go out and write a web application yourself, but it means that you have the knowledge and the vernacular, so that when you’re talking about problems, you can use the right terms and you can understand the context of the discussion more.

I really wish more writers would get involved in that.

Kathryn:

Yeah, and I worry about some of the new people coming in not having that exposure. That’s why I think that it’s really important to have exposure to UX. It’s not just the language of coding, but there is the language of working on projects, delivering projects, working with product managers, working in a business, understanding business goals and objectives. If you come straight from say academia, or you come from straight from journalism, you don’t have that rhythm that you have in say a startup, where you got all different moving parts.

A UX writer, to be successful, has to be able to plop down into that machine, and at least feel somewhat comfortable about who’s doing what, and what the timing is, and what’s expected. That may be the greatest barrier to some people getting into UX writing, who are coming in without any sort of experience in UX or in the project world, the technology world.

Patrick:

You can’t just cordon yourself off and be like, okay, I’m going to write. You need to know, okay, if I’m doing a content led design, what components do we have, if you’re using component led design? I need to talk to the developers to see if we can change any of that. I need to talk to the stakeholder and be like, we’ve got this amount of time before we can do this. You need to evaluate all your sources, including your product data, your product telemetry, your web data, heat maps, all that sort of stuff, looking at an A/B test and deciding, what is this test telling me? Do I need to change something, or is this a source that I can ignore? And if you are ignoring it, being able to manage relationships with stakeholders based on that. It’s so much more than just the writing.

Kathryn:

Exactly.

Patrick:

One of the good places that people can learn more about that is at your meetup. I thought that was a good chance to talk about that. So you started this meetup, is that right?

Kathryn:

Yeah, I’d love to talk about it. I started this meetup out of loneliness and frustration, because I was a UX writer, the sole UX writer here at Weebly, and last November, I felt like I had a lot of questions, a lot of things that I wanted to bounce off other writers, and at that point, I didn’t really know a lot of other writers. So I decided to start a meetup, and I expected about 20 or 30 people to show up, and I expected just to have a conversation in a coffee house, and maybe we would do it once or twice.

Kathryn:

Obviously, that didn’t happen. It was like a siren call, all the UX writers in the Bay area started coming out. So we grew around 100 members at first to almost 800 members now.

Patrick:

That’s a huge amount of people.

Kathryn:

It’s overwhelming and surprising, and it’s actually really delightful to be able to work really talented and really amazing people in this area.

Yeah, so we meet once a month, and we’ve been really lucky to have some of the major companies in the area sponsoring us. We’ve had meetups at, of course we’ve had them at Weebly and Square, we’ve had meetups at Credit Karma, Uber is planning to sponsor us, Google is sponsoring a meetup coming up in probably November. Just a lot of big companies are really interested in bringing us into their building, and sponsoring, catering, giving us wine and beer, and letting us talk about UX writing, as long as we want to.

Patrick:

How many people are coming to your meetings every time? I imagine fitting 800 people in a space is really difficult, but I’m guessing not everyone comes every time.

Kathryn:

No. A typical meetup attendance is about 40% of the people who sign up, so we often get sign ups and around 150 to 200 will sign up, and we’ll get 50 to 75 people show up at meetups.

Patrick:

That’s still quite a lot. I don’t know if we’re a niche role, but for that type of role, that’s actually quite a good turnout.

Kathryn:

Yeah, we have a great turnout, and we have a great participation. We are trying to do a mix of panellist and speakers, and throw in some really practical, hands on exercises. Often at the end of a meetup we’ll spend 15 or 20 minutes just with some printed out copy challenges in front of us, and everyone at the table gets together in groups, and they try to figure out how would I rewrite this, or what’s working, what’s not working with this. And everyone seems to really love that collaboration, that hands on work.

So we’ll be doing a little bit more of that in the future, and we’ve got some plans to do some social outings. So big things ahead for the meetup group I think.

Patrick:

That’s awesome. So if you’re in San Francisco, go and join up, go and tag along.

Kathryn:

If you’re elsewhere in the world, we have a number of members who are in other countries, they enjoy just having access to the presentations. All of our speakers are very generous and are willing to post the presentations online. So just go to our site, sign up, and you can access some of the cool speakers that we’ve had.

Patrick:

Excellent. No worries! Well look, Kathryn, this has been fantastic, thank you so much for your time.

I do just want to hit you with one last question, it’s something that I ask everyone at the end. I didn’t tell you I was going to be asking you this, so this is real on the spot question. But for anyone who is in UX writing or wanting to get into UX writing, what’s something they can go away and read that you think is going to provide them with some value? It could be a book, an article, could be anything.

Kathryn:

Read everything that John Saito has written on Medium.

Patrick:

Yeah, he’s great.

Kathryn:

He’s great. I think he’ll steer you in the right direction.

Patrick:

So for anybody that doesn’t know, John is at Dropbox. He’s the Head UX Writer at Dropbox, and he’s written a lot of really educational material about UX writing and the role it plays in a business.

Kathryn:

Yeah, you can’t go wrong with John’s work. He really takes a very academic approach to UX writing, and I think he brings precision and discipline, in the way he lays out the skills that are needed, the tips and tricks of the trade. John is just a great writer himself, which is a nice thing to be, if you’re a UX writer. We’re just really lucky to have someone of his calibre to be sharing information with us.

Also, I do want to make a plug for Microcopy: The Complete Guide, by Kinneret Yifrah. I’m not sure I’m pronouncing her name correctly, but that’s been a huge source of truth for me, and yeah, I use her book regularly.

Patrick:

Excellent. No worries! Kathryn, thank you so much for your time, really appreciate it. And again, if anyone is in San Francisco, go to one of the meetups, get involved. Thank you so much!

Kathryn:

Thank you, it’s been pleasure Patrick.

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