January 18, 2022

Professional Writer at Work: Interview with Leah Krauss, Content Designer at Dropbox

What is your current role, including daily professional tasks and responsibilities?

A content designer (sometimes called a UX writer, content designer, or content strategist, depending on the organization) writes copy for digital products. Think: the words you see on your phone, in software, and on web sites. Content designers are designers, but instead of designing the visuals, we design using words.

My job is to help readers (or users) get stuff done using digital products. If I do this well enough, you may not even notice the words I write. Instead, you'll just feel productive, easy, confident. During my time as a content designer, I’ve helped people do things like find an apartment, treat their migraines, collaborate at work, and protect their company’s sensitive data.

My typical day can include:

  • Interviewing Dropbox customers
  • Collaborating on software designs with product designers, product managers, and researchers

  • Writing, and then editing and getting feedback. That means everything from the words on buttons to error messages, and everything in between.

  • Workshopping copy with the rest of the Dropbox content design team

  • Working on other projects for the content design team, such as the Dropbox UX Copy Style Guide

  • Mentoring aspiring content designers

  • Mentoring girls, women, and minority groups who want to work in high tech

What made you realize that writing was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

Writing has always come naturally to me, but during my freshman year of college, two things guided me toward writing: I helped a friend start American University’s first online magazine, and I read All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. I decided to major in print journalism and become a reporter. After several years reporting on all different beats, I shifted from tech reporter to tech employee as a technical writer. I continued to pursue my other big interests — art and design — and when UX writing emerged as a profession, I knew it would be a great fit for me.

Can you speak about any experience you had with mentors?

Behind my career stands a group of women who are my mentors, supporters, and collaborators. Around 2015, these people helped me understand that under my tech writing title, I was already a content designer at heart: UX experts Na’ama Shapira and Rita Horowitz-Beeri, then-senior tech writer Shani Plonsky, and content design pioneer Kinneret Yifrah. The projects we created together in those early days were so exciting, and we learned so much together.

When I decided to go freelance, Merav Guttman and Kinneret were there to answer my every question, from work processes to pricing to choosing projects. And at Dropbox, I am always learning from all my writing and design colleagues, especially my managers Roxy Aliaga and Margie Levinson.

How important is collaboration? With whom do you collaborate?

Without collaboration, there would be no software. This is especially true for content designers. Together with product designers, we design the workflow and the way you see information on the screen. We work with the whole engineering and product team on strategy. And, we brainstorm and workshop together to help each other out.

What advice would you give to a professional writer interested in a career like yours?

Do you love learning? Can you ask questions without being embarrassed? Even if you have to ask more than once, to make sure you really understand? Then I believe you could be a content designer.  This is a new and evolving profession, so staying current is important.

In addition to being good writers and editors, the people we want to work with are: curious, empathetic, open to constructive criticism, attentive to detail, and collaborative.

Thank you to Leah Krauss for sharing her professional writing journey with us.

To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu/mspw

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