Re: Has anyone ever written the user guide before the product was developed (coded)?

Subject: Re: Has anyone ever written the user guide before the product was developed (coded)?
From: "Connie Giordano" <connie -at- therightwordz -dot- com>
To: Vanessa ScottSabic <vanessascottsabic -at- nanometrics -dot- ca>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2010 17:03:56 -0500

You are being asked to write a functional spec, not a user guide. It's a
marvelous opportunity to be closely involved in designing the product (and
expanding your skill set into the BA world). And a functional spec is key
to being able to write good end user documentation, but they are NOT the
same thing. The functional spec, details each piece of functionality,
including all sorts of conditions, business rules, exceptions, and more.
User documentation may or may not have that level of detail, but it's
design and creation should be based on user needs rather than system
design.

If the dev team doesn't already have design documents (architecture, high
level and/or low level design docs), I would search for SDLC (software
development life cycle) or functional requirements and look for resources
that can help you determine what your developers will need in order to code
the product. You will be able to reuse a lot of the information, but
always remember what the developers need to create the product is a far
different thing than what end users need in order to use it. I'd also
recommend having some preliminary conversations with your dev team to find
out what sort of methodology (if any) they are following so you can
determine how best to collaborate.

What a great opportunity! Keep us posted....


Connie P. Giordano
The Right Words
Communications & Information Design
(704) 957-8450 (cell)

www.therightwords.com
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney


-------Original Message-------
From: Vanessa ScottSabic
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Has anyone ever written the user guide before the product was
developed (coded)?
Sent: 11 Nov '10 15:51

We had an interesting conversation with our manager today and since we are
about to begin work on a new product the idea was proposed that we try to
write the user guide before the product is coded so that the developers
design what we have documented instead of us documenting what they have
designed. Of course, this does not mean that we dictate the design and
functionality of the product but the idea is that we could be proactive
rather than reactive and also help the developers.

Our first step was to research this idea and see what
information/experiences we could find. I have done some preliminary
research
and I did not find much at all about this.

Has anyone tried anything like this? Would anyone be willing to share your
experiences/tips? Can anyone point me to some resources?

Thanks!

Vanessa
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