Letting Go of the Words is a Must-Read for Every UX Designer

Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish

Photo by Jessica Ivins

Over the years, I’ve become a voracious reader. I devour books on topics like productivity, business, and design. I’ve read over a dozen UX design books this year alone.

Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content That Works stood out from the other books I read this year. Her book blew me away. It was everything I expected and more.

It’s Not Just Another Content Book

Before reading Letting Go of the Words, I read books like Nicely Said and Everybody Writes. Both of these books show you how to write content for the web (and they’re both fantastic reads). 

I expected Letting Go of the Words to be another book about web content. But it’s much, much more than that. It’s a design book that shows you how to develop effective content and design an experience that supports that content.

What I Learned from the Book

Here are a few things from the book that resonated with me.

  • Focus on what you want your site visitors to do. When establishing goals for your site, frame those goals around visitors’ needs instead of your organization’s needs. This helps you keep visitors’ needs top of mind.
    • For example: Imagine you have an e-commerce site that sells shoes. The first goal below focuses on the site. The second goal is the same goal, but it focuses on your visitors.
      • No: We want to sell a lot of shoes.
      • Yes: We want people to buy shoes from us.
  • Write conversationally. Write to the reader by using words like “I,” “we,” and “you.” This helps the reader connect with your content.
  • Answer your site visitors’ questions. Visitors usually come to your site with questions. They might be asking, “What are your business hours?” or “Do you have the suitcase I need at the right price?” Make sure your content answers their questions.
  • Remember that writing isn’t about the author. It’s about the visitor. Ginny says, “Put your ego in the drawer, cheerfully.” Write for your visitors and not for yourself. Be willing to let go of your prose if it doesn’t support the needs of your audience. (I still struggle with this one, but I’m getting there!)

These are only a few examples of what I learned from the book. I marked up the book with many underlines. I dog-eared pages and bookmarked my favorite sections. I plan to use this book as a reference for years to come.

Who Else Can Benefit from This book?

I recommend Letting Go of the Words to all UX designers. I also recommend it for graphic designers, front-end developers, content strategists, and anyone else who touches the web. Even though I have about ten years of experience in UX design, I learned many things from this book. 

Why is Content an Important Topic?

As a UX designer, you’ll need to know how to produce good content. People come to your site for the content. Very rarely do they visit your site for the design alone. Effective content supports your visitor’s needs and your organization’s goals. If you want to learn how to produce effective content, Letting Go of the Words is a fantastic place to start.

I used Letting Go of the Words when developing curriculum at Center Centre, the UX design school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can purchase Letting Go of the Words on Amazon, and you can read more reviews of the book on Goodreads.

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