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Zoho's logo featuring four conjoined squares (red, green, blue, yellow) and the words "Zoho" below it.



Though I trained as a journalist at the University of Houston, I went the copywriting route and stumbled into the world of church communications for over a decade. In 2019, I set out for new territory and moved into the tech industry, where I got a job reviewing and editing marketing content at Zoho. When an opportunity opened up for me to pivot to reviewing UX/UI content, I jumped at it, even though I'd never trained in the discipline. Since taking on this role 2.5 years ago, I've taught myself about UX/UI best practices, the role UX writers play in the product development process, content design, information architecture, and other fundamental things a UX writer needs to understand.



Copy for Zoho products originates with my colleagues in India—sometimes from tech writers, other times from devs, so the quality varies dramatically. I work on the US-based content review team as our lead UX/UI content reviewer. That means that copy for all of our 40+ products funnels to me so I can edit it for spelling/grammar, UX/UI best practices, and general positioning. My tasks have included:​​



I think the best way to present the work I’ve done at Zoho is to mention the three priorities I keep in mind with every project and then look at examples of how these guide my editing and writing. Here are the priorities:

  • Reviewing updated or new content for existing products

  • Conducting content audits on new and existing products

  • Communicating with our Sales and Presales teams to identify UI copy issues that need to be addressed

  • Maintaining and updating our Zoho-wide UX/UI copy style guide

  • Helping teams develop product-specific style guides. While we insist that the most important things conform to our Zoho-wide style guide, we allow products to follow their preferences in less important things: title vs sentence case, CTA button order, etc.

  • Overseeing an expedited microcopy review forum where teams can post copy that needs to go live within 24 hours

  • Coaching UX and marketing writers on best practices and positioning, as well as tone/voice, grammar, and general cultural understanding for our American audience



Any good UX writer knows that empathy is the bedrock of everything we do. Whether or not they realize it, the user is trying to achieve a goal at every moment, and our job is to make sure we choose the right words so they ideally don’t experience a single frustration on their journey.



My journalism background taught me the importance of ruthless editing to keep things crisp and vivid. For me, excelling at UX writing means understanding the idea of time and place. For example, knowing when to be direct and serious (error messages), when to be concise (toast messages), and when there's latitude to be playful (first-use empty state content).



Part of UX writing is teaching the user how we’re going to present information to them. While it might only be a subconscious thing, I believe users can experience a hiccup in digesting information if you start with one structure and then throw a different structure into the middle of the content for no good reason.



With all that in mind, let's take a look at some of my work at Zoho.

Jump to:



The top of Kanaa's home page, featuring a header that says "Elevate your storytelling, scene by scene" and a CTA that says "Sign up for free"


Kanaa is Zoho’s recently launched screenwriting software. I was excited to work on this one because screenwriting has been a hobby of mine for 20+ years. This meant I understood how the product should work, so I was also able to contribute informed feedback on the actual UX.

I conducted a content audit on the product, which included helping the team tone down some flowery language. I also provided my thoughts on the UX in a document that broke the issues out into High, Medium, and Low importance so the team would know what to address first. This document also featured some highlights of a competitor analysis I'd done with Fade In, one of the two software products that are considered industry standards.

Example #1
First-use empty state content

A screenshot of the first-use empty state page for Kanaa's "Add Shot" feature. It says "You don't have any shots added yet."


You don't have any shots added yet.


Add shots to storyboard your script
Shots are storyboard panels that let you plan how you’ll bring your script to life. Upload reference images, pick camera angles, and make notes for collaborators.


With this empty state content, users know what’s missing, but none of the following:


  • What is a shot in Kanaa? 

  • How does it relate to screenwriting?

  • Once they add a shot, what can they do with it?


  • At Zoho, most first-use empty state content features a title with a description below it, so I tweaked the structure to match.

  • I used “Add” in the title so users would mentally connect it to the CTA: “Add Shot."

  • Related, I recommended we include a CTA button right below the copy so users don’t have to search for it. This is consistent with how Zoho usually presents CTA buttons in first-use empty state content anyway.

  • I opened the description by defining what shots are. Then I expanded on that by quickly telling users three specific things they can do in a shot.


  • Zoho takes a dry, professional approach to UX/UI copy, even in places where a lot of companies might be playful, like empty state content. The reason for this is that with most of our writers being from India, what they consider "playful" might not transfer culturally to our American target audience. And since UX/UI content review isn't mandatory at Zoho, a lot slips through the cracks. Insisting on a drier voice limits the likelihood that unreviewed copy will be confusing for users.

Example #2
Toast message

A screenshot of a toast message in Kanaa. It says "Please hold tight till the illustration changes to your imagination(Upload in progress)..."


Please hold tight till the illustration changes
to your imagination(Upload in progress)...


Option 1: Upload in progress...

Option 2: Image upload in progress...


  • This toast message is a classic case of trying to do way too much. It's too long, especially since it's transient. The first time it popped up, I was able to read only the first few words before it disappeared.​

  • It also tries to be playful, but transient toast messages usually need to be concise and direct, quickly telling the user what's happening (or has happened).


  • We simply need to tell the user exactly what is happening in the shortest, most direct terms possible. The irony is the copy is already there, buried at the end of other stuff.

  • While option 1 works fine, one thing I like to do — if there's room — is get slightly more specific, thus option 2. I believe the clarity these small details bring can incrementally improve a user's experience.


  • A lot of my work at Zoho has been cases like this — stripping away unnecessary content to find copy that is familiar, clear, and short for the user.

  • I always check with the product team to find out what language they're using throughout the rest of the product so we can keep it consistent. This is one of those ambiguous areas where small deviations in presentation from one Zoho product to the next are fine, but I try and insist on consistency within the product itself. 

Example #3
Toast message

A screenshot of a Kanaa error message that says "Thumbnail is under progress for shot number: 2. Please hit the reload button after sometime."


Thumbnail is under progress for shot number: 2.
Please hit the reload button after sometime.


Thumbnail generation taking longer than expected. If it doesn't appear soon, reload the page. 


  • This message appeared immediately after the previous message we looked at. The thumbnail was taking too long to load, so this error message appeared briefly before quickly disappearing as the issue resolved itself.

  • The main issue is it doesn't tell us the actual problem. It just says the thumbnail is "under progress," but it doesn't say that that progress is being held up for some reason. It also tells us which shot number is under progress, but this is unnecessary info in this moment since we were only uploading a single image.


  • I tweaked the copy to 1) inform the user that a thumbnail is being generated and 2) tell them that it's taking longer than expected.

  • The one thing the old copy got right was that it offered the user a solution to the issue: reload the page. But I thought the solution could be phrased better.


  • While this longer copy directly contradicts my previous thoughts on toast messages, I would simply encourage the team to make this one persistent, or to at least extend the time on a transient version so the user has time to read it. The great thing about using clearer copy is that the user can read and digest it quicker.

A screenshot of ResearchStudio's homepage. A header says "Build org-wide consensus with Zoho's cloud-based qualitative research tool."

PRODUCT: ResearchStudio

ResearchStudio is an interesting case in that after a lot of work, the product got put on hold as we realized it needed to become something else. It was initially intended to be a tool for UX researchers, but a competitor analysis conducted by our UX researchers revealed it lacked a lot of the functionality they would expect and that similar products already offered. So it's in the process of being re-positioned as a general research tool. Like with Kanaa, I conducted a content audit on the product and provided my thoughts on the UX and user flows.

Example #1
First-use empty state content



A screenshot of ResearchStudio's Home empty state content before UX content editing.
A screenshot of ResearchStudio's home empty state content after UX content editing.


Analyse the facts

Rearch Studio is a research data analysis software where you can collect research data, analysis and create beautiful insights.


Analyze the facts

Highlight, annotate, and tag observations and turn them into various types of charts to get a better view of your findings.


  • There are a lot of small tweaks I made to the old copy, but the main thing I want to point out here is the way they weren't consistent with how they presented the information in each of these descriptions. Three of the four descriptions started with verbs, and all of them sort of hit on features and benefits but in inconsistent ways. There was also a decent amount of redundancy in the copy on this page in general.


  • I stripped out the redundant info — we've already established what ResearchStudio is — so that now we can look closer at what it can do, which, in this case, is specifically related to analyzing facts.

  • I asked the team how exactly users were able to organize and analyze data and then crafted copy that started with specifics and worked its way towards the more general benefit.


  • These screenshots also present good examples of the tiny details I have to keep an eye on and make consistent across the product, such as title case vs. sentence case (and helping the team decide when they want to use which) and American vs. British/Indian spellings.

  • The red circle at the bottom of the Before pic was about a browser UX issue where certain CTA buttons weren't appearing, and I wasn't able to scroll down either.

Example #2
Form empty state content



A screenshot of form empty state content in ResearchStudio before editing.
A screenshot of form empty state content in ResearchStudio after editing.


1. New user study

2. You can change the project icon, and write a title and description of your project.

3. Topic

4. Enter email address to invite a participant

5. Start


1. Create a new session

2. Give your session a title and invite participants.

3. Title

4. Invite participants via email

5. Create


  • One of the main issues with this copy was inconsistency with terminology. The CTA button users clicked right before this form popped up said "Start new session." But then this copy talks about creating a new user study.

  • Another issue was that users couldn't actually change the project icon.

  • Finally, we're saying "New" in the title and "Start" in the CTA. It's ideal if these would match just to reassure the user that the CTA is going to do what they think it's going to do.


  • I rewrote the copy to use "session" instead of "user study." That way users won't think twice when this pop-up appears — the title will reinforce that they're in the right place doing the thing they set out to do.

  • I simplified the description to cover what we're actually doing here. To be honest, this description is slightly unnecessary, but we had the room and it helps clarify what the user needs to do here.

  • I changed from "Topic" to "Title" so the users realized they're naming their session.

  • I streamlined the language about inviting via email by starting with a strong verb.

  • I unified the CTA and the title with the same verb: Create.


  • The numbering is simply to clarify for the writer which piece of copy goes where.

  • One thing I'm currently trying to get writers to understand and implement is being consistent with whether we use Add/Create/New. They have a tendency to use these interchangeably, and I want them to pick one and use it across the entire product. This is something I hope to simplify for them in the future with a Figma style library.

  • Lastly, I generally encourage teams to avoid using redundant placeholder copy, but it's a hard habit for them to kick.

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