In a recent meeting to discuss online searching for health information, Rachel was introduced as a
UX writer for Google. Mystified, I googled her job title. Turns out UX is short for User Experience. A
UX writer is first an advocate for the user of information. Rachel does not think about educating
readers who need to process and understand information and gain knowledge. Rather, she "creates
useful, meaningful text that helps users complete the task at hand."
Imagine how information from health care organizations would be different if producers and reviewers
aimed not to educate patients with low literacy, but rather to "simplify and beautify the user experience"
of obtaining treatment, using medications, or navigating facilities. Imagine if we wrote not for "low
literate patients", but for an information user assumed to be competent, although unfamiliar with the
content and context. What if we regularly used empathy along with logic and hard data to inform content
choices? What if we worked closely with teammates from a variety of disciplines?
Rachel writes about Google software products. Elsewhere, her position might be titled technical writer.
What differentiates her from technical writers, and most health information producers, is her intent to
improve the users experience, instead of intent to improve the information. Another essential differentiating
factor is that Rachel the UX writer assumes users of the info she produces will have different levels of
proficiency, background knowledge, and experience. She does not require them to learn a new vocabulary.
She does not demand reforms to public education to increase computer literacy so that people can benefit
from her products and services. Rather she enables them to use her information with the skills they have.
A UX mindset would transform health information and the process of health education.
A UX Writer's job description would be a good starting place to describe a health literacy specialist or health
educator position. Find one here.