IA Summit: Communicating Design

by Luke Wroblewski March 24, 2007

Dan Brown’s Communicating design: an astonishingly close look at what makes IA documentation work talk at IA Summit 2007 walked through the characteristics of design documentation and artifacts.

  • The purpose of a document is to capture an idea
  • Documentation can be used for: consistency of vision (help facilitate communication), accountability (represent project history), traceability (show progress)
  • Artifacts are great for reminding you of your design decisions
  • Different kinds of documents: concept model, site map, persona, screen design, usability report, usability test plan, competitive analysis, content inventory, flow charts, wireframes
  • User Needs, Strategy, Design are high level organization concepts for documents
  • Flow Charts: can have wireframe references; can use swimlanes to track process; can service as backgrounds to higher level concepts; can layer where in usability test there were issues on top of flow chart
  • Components of flow charts: anchors (beginning and end), steps, paths, decision points, step distinctions (some might be more important/different), step variations (may vary depending on state), groupings, step details, error paths, triggers (what starts an event), scenarios (under what circumstances would flow happen)
  • Anchors, steps, and decision points are the core elements of flow charts.
  • What are the elements that make up documents: defining elements (make document what it is), Elaborating Elements (provide useful details), Supporting Elements (provide additional context)
  • When creating deliverables: establish a purpose (why create the document), identify an audience, inventory contents (list the things in a document), prioritize contents (macro vs. micro information), create visual language
  • When using deliverables: communicate the purpose of the document, relinquish control (let people engage with the document), note opportunities for improvement, estimate the value of maintenance (to keep the document current)