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Book Review: Strategic Writing for UX by Torrey Podmajersky

Disclosure: I got a review copy of this book.

Further disclosure: Torrey is part of the pink-haired tech people. We are legion.


This book is a snappy and sharply-focused exploration of the words that make the magic happen in user interfaces. Podmajersky accurately identifies places that more needs to be said, and then avoids them, because this is not that book. It’s honestly inspirational to me as a writer, and it keeps this book very tight.

In many ways, it reminded me of Kathy Sierra’s amazing book, Badass: Making Users Awesome – both books have that relentless focus on users, experience, and empathy. The two most useful sections _Strategic Writing for UX_, for me, were the chapter on editing iteratively to achieve specific goals, and the chapter on UX text patterns, which broke down and named a lot of things I knew but hadn’t had good vocabulary for.

This book is so concise and usable that I’m going to add it to the library at work, because I think it benefits everyone to have a shared vocabulary around this, even if we aren’t directly doing design or development. It’s full of pithy and hard-hitting quotes that I want to pin on my wall, like:

Humans can’t improve when they don’t have feedback. We can make changes, but we can’t determine whether those changes are good are bad if we aren’t paying attention.

and

The most essential usability is accessibility.

Read if:

  • You don’t have a UX person or team, but you’re pretty sure UX needs to happen to your product
  • You are the UX person and you’re looking for a way to organize your 30/60/90 day plan and explain the business value of your work to other people
  • You’re a developer and you think UX isn’t your problem. (It is)

Skip if:

  • You are only talking to machines all day
  • (You should still read the section on error messages)

Also read:

A book cover for a book called Strategic Writing for UX by Torrey Podmajersky, published by O Reilly. It has a catbird on the cover.

Heidi Waterhouse

Heidi is a mercenary technical writer and travelling salesperson of better process and product thinking. She loves writing herself out of a job and teaching people to save themselves from future pain.

Upcoming appearances

Velocity Berlin
Minneapolis DevOps Meetup
DeliveryConf

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