The Vinish Garg website logo

Back to see all posts

To caution and to relax them: A very small UX writing challenge

Make sure that user reads the message but stays calm

Matthew Hirtes invited me for my thoughts on a small UX writing challenge in a tweet.

As I wrote to Matthew, I generally do not comment with limited context on the product and the use case. But I thought that I had enough to give it a go. Here is the story.

Scenario: It is Monday. A user has just gotten into their car to drive to work. They plug their phone into the car and start driving.

Challenge: How would you let the user know there is fire happening in a nearby town that is causing road closures? The effect on their commute is unknown but there is a definite danger if the fire gets closer. How do you communicate this to them?

Conditions: The headline is 30 characters max., and the body of the message is 45 characters max.

Matthew’s challenge shows the answer:

Red alert! Fire in your area!

Find alternate routes to avoid road closures.

I thought about the scenario.

  • We do not need to use Red alert to begin with. I will use Alert or Caution.
  • I will make sure that the headline does not cause panic in the users because they are driving a car and they might lose control and smash it somewhere out of panic.
  • There are two goals here. One, to make sure that the users read the message but stay calm. Two, they feel confident to take the next step that we advise.

So, my response to the challenge is:

Caution! Fire nearby. Be slow.

Relax. You can see alternate routes. Go safe.

If you compare the two responses, the goal is the same but words make a lot of difference. An important part of UX writer’s job is to anticipate how the users process the information. We need to give them the confidence to take an action. As I always say, UX writing is much more than the words.

Tweet to me if you are up for this very small UX writing challenge.

This topic is part of my advanced course in product content strategy, content design, and UX Writing. See the course details for how we can find and add more meaning to our work.

Vinish Garg

Vinish Garg

I am Vinish Garg, and I work with growing product teams for their product strategy, product vision, product positioning, product onboarding and UX, and product growth. I work on products for UX and design leadership roles, product content strategy and content design, and for the brand narrative strategy. I offer training via my advanced courses for content strategists, content designers, UX Writers, content-driven UX designers, and for content and design practitioners who want to explore product and system thinking.

Interested to stay informed about my work, talks, writings, programs, or projects? See a few examples of my past newsletters—All things products, Food for designInviting for 8Knorks. You can subscribe to my emails here.

Vinish Garg is an independent consultant in product content strategy, content design leadership, and product management for growing product teams.