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Write the User Manual First

September 4th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I review an old, and seemingly forgotten, technique for building systems in which we fully describe what a system will be and do.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…

Maybe not that long ago, but still…there was a technique for building systems wherein we wrote the user manual first. Today, we could write the FAQ page or make the YouTube video first, but you get the idea. Then, we built the system to match the user manual (FAQ page, YouTube video).

Of course, there was a lot of back and forth. Sometimes the system simply could do what the user manual stated (at this time). Sometimes the system could do more than the user manual stated. Adjustments occurred daily on all sides. Still, there was a target—something visible that we tried to reach.

Folly? I think not. And no, a story card or whatever is not the same. Start by creating a full-fledged piece of documentation that requires time and effort. It may surprise all of us what thoughts come to mind in creating this. Then, work hard to make it a reality.

Tags: Communication · Design · Expectations · Requirements

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