The UX of Life, Death, and Danger

Issue #266 (Feb 21st, 2024)

The UX of Life, Death, and Danger

Industries that deal with death, dying, and mental health are among some of our most important. At some point, no matter how hard we try, we will all need to interact with these digital interactions, and UX writers and content designers (among others) are able to shape those interactions.

Understanding the unique psychological needs of our users and using language to meet those needs is a very special and necessary skill.

This issue of UX writing weekly is dedicated to the better angels among us. 

Trigger warnings: This issue contains screenshots and stories highlighting some of the difficult scenarios that UX writers write for, including death, illness, suicide, and potentially traumatic events.

  • Amazing articles about writing for difficult situations 😱

  • Get your FREE seat to hear Helen Lawson talk about content design for death ✏️

  • An interesting story about the costs of failed UX writing 💣

  • Have you taken the Salary Survey? Help us help you! Take it now 💰

  • An informative talk about AI and UX in hospitals 🤖🧑‍⚕️

  • An inspiring case study 🔎

Articles ⚰️

Here are some amazing reads about the important job UX writers do on the front lines of breaking bad news, handling tricky situations, and keeping people safe. 

A Cautionary Tale 💣

The Hawaiian missile alert incident of 2018 highlighted the critical role that UX writers can play in emergency alert systems.

The erroneous message, warning of an incoming ballistic missile, caused psychological distress and strained emergency response resources.

Learn by Watching 👀

As we integrate AI into the lifesaving workflows of hospital employees, there is a lot to consider. Getting the words right to create intuitive collaboration is the difference between saving time and becoming more efficient and costing lives. Check out this great talk to learn more!

Featured Case Study 🎓

At the UX Writing Hub, we are committed to bringing the community content that helps build a better future. If you’re looking to improve, revise, or even start a portfolio, head to this section each week to find a relevant example of a great case study.

Microcopy 🤏

Whether you are experiencing a mental health crisis or trying to help a loved one through those trying times, one thing is for certain. 

You will be experiencing psychological distress and can easily become cognitively overloaded.

As UX writers, it’s our job to write clearly and concisely, ESPECIALLY when writing for users facing these difficult situations.

We loved the H1 in this copy from the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and the idea to separate the groups by cards made them scannable and easy for someone to locate the information that would pertain to the situation they are facing.

The three red cards, however, threw us off. The use of the phrase “Current event” left us wondering…do they mean an active suicidal crisis or something happening in the news?

Perhaps a different phrase would lend more clarity to the intent here.

After all, clarity is key in moments like this.

Community Spotlight 🔦

When it comes to UX writing and grief, Helen Lawson is, without a doubt, a pillar of the community and a beacon of hope in troubled times.

Helen has dedicated her career to helping content designers get this right. Ensuring that we meet those in grief, with the right words.

Helen is an inspiration and a leader to be followed. 👏

Where AI and XR Intersect 🤖

There will be lots of opportunities for us (UX writers) to create engaging and helpful experiences for our users if we just understand what amazing new capabilities are at our fingertips.

Everything from life-saving interventions to funeral planning, grief acknowledgment, and beyond.

Read on to get a sense of some of the good that is already happening and what’s on the horizon.

Events 🎟️

Get your FREE SEAT at our next event with Helen Lawson. She will be walking through the process of developing tone guidelines when working with sensitive topics…like death.

Future Proof Event Series

If you haven’t checked out our Free Future Proof events, you’re missing out. Check out who’s joining us in the coming months and reserve your seats! 🪑

Be on the lookout! Soon enough, we will be hosting WEEKLY events!

Book Recs 📚

Life and Death Design: What Life-Saving Technology Can Teach Everyday UX Designers by Kate Swinder is a really interesting read.

Nine times out of ten, we probably don’t have these types of scenarios in our minds as we are writing copy or designing. Once you do, however, you’ll never think of your words the same way again.

Salary Survey 💵

Have you taken the Salary Survey yet? A few minutes of your time will help us gather information that could benefit you in the long run.

Once we have enough participants, we’ll be able to crunch the numbers and put together some data that you (and your peers) will be able to use the next time you’re negotiating your salary or on the job hunt.

UX Writing Jobs 👩‍💻

Whether you’re looking for an entry-level or senior role, we’ve got them all. We’re constantly updating the job board, so keep on checking!

That’s All For Now 👋

Be the hero 🦸 of your professional circle and share our newsletter with your colleagues.

Want to be featured? Let me know at [email protected]

Until next time👋,

Yuval Keshtcher and UXWH team