Meta, PayPal, Airbnb, Google…all the tech giants have specialist content designers on their product and UX teams.
The role of content designer is growing in both importance and popularity. Brands are realising just how critical content design is to a successful user experience, and talented writers and designers are taking notice of this impactful and rewarding career path.
But, while hiring content designers is steadily becoming the norm, there’s still plenty of confusion around what a content designer actually does.
If you’re in the dark when it comes to content design, look no further than this guide. We’ll provide absolute clarity on what the role entails and the skills it requires.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is content design?
- What is a content designer?
- What does a content designer do all day?
- Examples of content designer job descriptions: PayPal, Varo Bank & Condé Nast
- What skills does a content designer need?
- What is the average content designer’s salary?
- How to become a content designer
First up: defining content design…
Content is an essential part of the overall user experience. When you interact with a product, well-placed text guides you around the interface, helps you navigate from A to B, and prompts you through the completion of your desired tasks.
Consider the example of completing a bank transfer via your mobile banking app.
When you open the app, you’re prompted to enter your passcode. And, because the message “Enter your passcode” is located directly in the text field, you know exactly where you should click to enter this information.
Then, as you move through the necessary steps to make your transfer, the in-app copy provides clear instructions and useful information to guide you.
All of the text you encounter has been carefully considered—designed—as part of the overall app design process.
That’s content design in a nutshell: the process of writing the words and messaging that guide you through the app, and of deciding where the copy should be placed to best facilitate the user’s journey.
Learn more: What is Content Design?
Based on our previous definition of content design, a content designer is someone who designs the content—primarily the text—that features throughout a digital product.
Just as a UX designer maps out the logistics of the user’s journey through a website or app, a content designer maps out their journey in words. They consider where each micro-message should be placed and what it should say—all with the end goal of optimising the user experience.
A content designer may also be a content strategist, considering not only the individual messaging that features within a product, but also the bigger picture. For example, determining the overall tone of voice and ensuring that the terminology used is consistent throughout the user experience.
It’s important to note that content designers sit firmly within the product design team. Content designers and UX writers are not to be confused with copywriters and other content roles which typically sit within the marketing team.
You can learn more about how UX writers and content designers differ from marketing copywriters in this guide.
We’ve provided a high-level overview of what a content designer is. Now let’s drill down to what a content designer actually does in terms of day-to-day tasks.
So what exactly does a content designer do?
Content designers are responsible for:
- Conducting research to understand the target audience and the problem space. In other words, who are we writing for and what do they need to accomplish?
- Content ideation and brainstorming, coming up with different copy versions and concepts.
- Content modelling, the process of documenting and visually mapping out all the different types of content that will feature throughout the product, and considering how they relate to each other. You can learn more about content modelling in UX here.
- UX writing—actually writing the content and copy that features throughout a website or app. This includes writing the copy for CTA buttons, crafting the welcome message a user sees when they first open an app, writing error messages, menu labels, instructions, and more. You can learn more about UX writing (with examples) in this guide.
- Designing the information architecture and hierarchy of content. How should the content be formatted and laid out on the screen or page? Where should each piece of content appear? Should some messaging appear bigger and more noticeable than others?
- Developing and maintaining design systems and style guides. This ensures consistency throughout the product, for e.g. making sure the same terminology is used across the board and establishing a consistent and recognisable tone of voice.
- Running tests and gathering data to evaluate content performance and make improvements accordingly.
- Developing, overseeing, and/or contributing to the overall content strategy. This involves connecting your work as a content designer to user needs and business goals, and developing a content strategy that meets both.
Now let’s explore the content designer role even further with some real job ads.
In this section, we’ll highlight some real-world job ads that were live at the time of writing. This will provide insight into how different companies define the content designer role, and what kinds of skills and qualities they look for when hiring content designers.
Senior Content Designer at PayPal
The Senior Content Designer at PayPal works side by side with UX designers, product owners, and UX researchers. The ideal candidate is described as “a seasoned writer who is also a design thinker and customer champion.”
According to PayPal, the Senior Content Designer should “thrive in using words to solve problems and simplifying technical jargon” and be “a holistic and strategic thinker”.
Main tasks and responsibilities listed include:
- Planning and writing content for mobile and web experiences.
- Transforming global product requirements into a strategy for how you will use content to meet business goals and solve real customer problems.
- Using data and research to evaluate your content’s impact and push for continuous improvements.
- Maintaining and evolving PayPal’s content standards, including voice and tone.
Here is the Senior Content Designer job description in full:
Content Designer at Varo Bank
Varo is an all-digital bank based in the US. The Content Designer role will join a team of creatives, researchers, writers, designers, developers, and thinkers—the team responsible for “delivering on the Varo mission at every touchpoint.”
Key tasks and responsibilities listed in the job ad include:
- Developing impactful user interface and experience copy to bring the Varo voice, brand, and story to life.
- Contributing to, expanding, and maintaining the Varo voice guide.
- Conducting research to understand who the audience is, what they need, and how they behave.
- Actively participating in design discussions to help define features and contribute to the overall direction of the product experience.
The ideal candidate brings the following skills and experience:
- 5+ years of professional UX writing experience.
- Experience leveraging human-centred design methodologies and practises to unlock problems and solutions.
- Proficiency in Figma, Sketch, Adobe CS, Keynote, and other design tools.
Here is the Varo Bank Content Designer job description in full:
UX Content Designer at Condé Nast
Condé Nast is a global media company, home to iconic brands such as Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, and GQ. They recently put out a job ad for a UX Content Designer to join their team of designers, writers, product managers, engineers, strategists, and researchers.
Key tasks and responsibilities listed under the UX Content Designer role include:
- Applying your mastery of language to design intuitive, enjoyable product experiences that help users accomplish their goals.
- Partnering closely with product designers throughout the entire design process, helping define user flows from day one.
- Writing UX copy, including navigation, empty and error states, onboarding, and many more components of the end-to-end user experience.
- Using empathy, logic, insights, and data to inform content choices and advocate for user needs.
- Evangelising the value of UX content design, UX research, and product design to cross-functional partners throughout the product development process.
The ideal UX Content Designer will have:
- Relevant experience in user-focused writing across web and mobile environments.
- Demonstrated empathy for your audience, valuing a continuous and consistent experience across the complete user journey.
- A data-driven mindset where measuring effectiveness is part of your process and analytics are used to validate and improve your approach.
- Ability to articulate and defend decisions to high-level stakeholders and partners.
Here is the full UX Content Designer job description:
Hopefully, those three content designer job descriptions give you a good idea of what it’s like to work as a content designer in the real world—and of how different companies interpret the role.
Content designers aren’t only skilled at UX writing—that is, crafting the actual copy and content that features throughout a product. They must also be well-versed in UX design principles and methodologies such as research, wireframing, and prototyping.
Here are the most important skills and knowledge that content designers must demonstrate:
- Research: This is crucial for understanding the target audience.
- UX design principles and design thinking: Content designers are firmly embedded in the UX and product teams, so it’s essential that they understand the context of their work.
- UX writing: The ability to craft clear, helpful, on-brand copy for the product interface.
- Empathy: Just like UX design, content design is a user-centric discipline. Empathy is a must!
- A strategic and holistic mindset: The ability to consider the bigger picture and connect content design to the overall product vision, user needs, and business goals.
- Accessibility and inclusivity: You can’t design effective content—or effective user experiences—if the content isn’t accessible and inclusive. Learn more in this guide: How to Design Accessible and Inclusive Content (and Why It Matters).
- Collaboration and communication: Content designers work closely with UX, UI and product designers, developers, product managers, and business stakeholders, so collaboration and communication skills are key.
- A data-driven approach: Content designers are required to test their content and make data-informed decisions, so an affinity with data and analytics is useful.
Depending on the product or industry, some content design roles may also require specialist knowledge or experience—for example, knowledge of the financial sector or experience creating content for healthcare products.
However, that usually applies to more senior content design roles. As long as you’ve got the fundamental skills down, you’re more than qualified for an entry or mid-level content design position.
If you’re reading this guide with a view to becoming a content designer yourself, you’ll want to know: How much could I earn?
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a content designer in Ireland is around €52,000. The average salary for a UX writer in Ireland is between €40,000 and €50,000 (based on 1-3 years’ experience, according to prosperity.ie).
For more salary data, check out our full content designer salary guide here.
We’ve covered what a content designer is, what they do, and how much they can earn. We’ve also outlined the most important skills you’ll need to excel as a content designer.
So how can you become a content designer?
If you’re a UX designer looking to move into content design, you’ll need to master the art of UX writing and content design and develop a strong content design portfolio. Alternatively, you can add UX writing and content design projects to your existing design portfolio.
If you’re brand new to UX and content design, you’ll need to learn both the fundamentals of user experience (UX) design—including what UX design is and the key UX design principles—and the specific skills, tools, processes, and principles of UX writing and content design.
Wherever you’re starting from, a content design course will teach you everything you need to know. The UX Design Institute offers a university credit-rated Professional Certificate in Content Design, spanning just 10 weeks and available completely flexibly online.
Over the course of 9 modules, you’ll learn everything you need to work as a content designer—starting with an introduction to content design and moving through to the principles of good content design, understanding your users, AI for content design, and more.
Ready to kick-start your career in content design? Learn more about the Professional Certificate in Content Design here.