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April 17, 2019
156: Creating effective design documentation

Design documentation might not be the most exciting part of the design process but its importance cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately the people we work with cannot read our minds, which is why documenting our designs is crucial. Communicating the ‘how and why’ of our design’s functionality allows questions to be answered quickly and efficiently. Today we talk about how we document our designs and the tools we use daily.

key takeaways

Writing design documentation might sound like a lot of work but it certainly helps to cut out confusion on projects as they progress from idea to product. Questions that other people will have about your design will already be answered in the design documentation.

Writing about how your design works, and the information that has influenced every decision ensures other people who are working on the design, be they developers, engineers or stakeholders will have a clear idea of every step that was taken along the way.

Sometimes, design documentation can act as a historical log of all the design decisions that were made on a project. If a feature was scrapped or trialed and updated as the project progressed it can be good to have a record of why certain decisions were made and when. This way, when new members join the team and have questions you can guide them to the documentation.

Break down your documentation into bite sized chunks. Try adding to your documentation daily. If at the end of each day you set aside time to update the design documentation with anything important that has happened on the project, you will avoid the stress of having to remember everything at the very end.

Design documentation is a helpful tool but do not underestimate the many questions that will come your way as the project moves from design to build. Although you may feel excited at the prospect of moving on to a new project, make sure you set aside time in your schedule to answer questions about your design.

show timestamps

04.00 – Design documentation
09.45 – Breaking the design flow
14.20 – Documentation/feedback cycle
17.15 – Design documentation in product design
20.35 – Creating prototypes
22.10 – Handover

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