From Academia to UX Writing: Decoding the Inverted Pyramid and Embracing Clarity


The transition from the hallowed halls of academia to the dynamic world of UX writing has been an adventurous journey filled with quirks and surprises. It’s like going from reciting Victor Hugo to expressing ideas to the point. Today, I want to take you through the twists and turns of my transition from the deep waters of academic writing to straightforward UX writing. This ride involves navigating pyramids, mastering clarity, and finding a whole new voice. Let’s discover why both writing styles are worlds apart, yet strangely connected.

The Academic’s Comfort Zone

As someone with an academic background, I was well-versed in the art of what I affectionately call the “standard pyramid.” You know the drill: the introduction sets the stage, the body paragraphs build the narrative, and the conclusion drops the knowledge bomb. Academics are in love with abstract sentences that leave readers pondering until the final sentence unravels the mystery. It’s like crafting a suspenseful story where every word is carefully chosen to maintain an aura of complexity. Until we quote previous research works, our writing is not considered “academic enough”.

The UX Writer’s Plot Twist

Then came the twist in my literary tale when I ventured into the realm of UX writing. Here, we don’t just flip the pyramid; we turn it upside down. UX writers understand that users are the goldfish of the digital age – their attention span is shorter than a sugar rush. So, we start with the most crucial information right at the top, giving them the main dish before the appetizer. It’s like telling a joke in reverse – punchline first, set up later. Users get the key message even if they skim just a few lines in the beginning.

Concrete versus Abstract: A Clash of Styles

As an academic, I was used to crafting sentences that danced around the essence of a concept, leaving readers to decipher layers of meaning. But UX writing is a different ballgame; it’s all about concrete sentences. No room for ambiguity or guessing games. We aim for crystal-clear communication so that users know exactly what to expect, no decryption is required. Now, let’s see how these styles stack up with a phrase written in both approaches:

Academic: “The intricate interplay of political dynamics remains an enigmatic puzzle.”

UX Writing: “Understanding today’s politics is complex.”

Can you spot the difference? In academia, you might need a compass and a philosopher’s guidebook to navigate the sentence. In UX writing, clarity reigns supreme, and users get the message without breaking a sweat.

Embracing the Challenge

If, like me, you hail from the academic world, transitioning to UX writing might feel like trading your cozy library nook for a bustling city street. But as the Interaction Design Foundation wisely notes, “Academia is all about the standard pyramid. But we know you can convert your writing style. Just start practicing right now.”

It’s definitely a bit like unlearning how to walk and then learning it all over again to run. But let’s be honest, the journey promises exciting adventures in the world of UX writing. The question now is, are you ready to make that leap? Can you go from weaving abstract tapestries of thought to crafting clear, user-centric experiences? It’s a challenge, but it’s one that opens doors to a whole new dimension of communication. So, are you up for it?

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