By WalkingTree   September 15, 2020

How documentation drives better design outcomes

In the early stages of design thinking, it’s important to sketch. But once moving beyond the concept, a design must be well-reasoned, particularly if you are designing applications. This “reasoning” would be done by a business analyst. But that might not always be the case, designers need to be prepared to take on this task. 

One of the best ways to ensure a design is well-reasoned is to be “forced” to describe it verbally. The “documentation is designing” approach obviates the need for a big documentation pass. The benefit of integrating documentation into your design practice helps build explanatory writing skills. 

Type of Design Documentation

When creating a design, look at a system from two perspectives: the structural perspective and the task perspective:

Task Perspective includes:

  • User Stories: User stories are brief and designed to generate discussion.
  • Use Cases: Use cases are more lengthy and definitive, describing more precisely what the system will do. 
  • Scenario Narratives: They provide more descriptive details about how a set of tasks are performed.
  • Screen Flow Diagrams: Shows how users move screen-to-screen, can vary from simple flows to more comprehensive diagrams.
  • Page-Level Documentation: An overview of the function of the page and Step-by-step instructions for any interactive demos.

Structural Perspective includes: 

  • Object Model: Similar to the way that flow diagrams provide a 30,000 ft view. The object model shows that view from a structural standpoint
  • System Vocabulary: It can be helpful to explicitly document system vocabulary. 
  • Architecture Map: Its goal is to communicate how the application is structured and represents the information hierarchy. 
  • Page Archetypes: They are specific genres of pages that share layout characteristics.
  • Standardized Components: Includes elements that are shared across the breadth of a web site or system. 

Read on to know more about documentation and how design thinking can help.


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