Technical writing/Document Design

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What is design?[edit | edit source]

The design stage is when decisions of how a project will look are taken.

In documentation, the design phase is about deciding the following:

  • What will the document cover look like?
  • What format will the document take?
  • How will the document look?
  • In what order will information be presented?

The design stage must take into account the needs of the audience in order to create something appropriate to their task.

Design Goals[edit | edit source]

When designing documentation, technical writers have five aims to keep constantly in mind. These goals are best defined in Mike Markel's Practical Strategies for Technical Communication:

  • Make a good impression

Documentation must look professional and create a positive image of the product and the company.

  • Clearly define information structure

The documents must be easily navigable and follow a logical and reasonable order.

  • Give the readers the information they need

Documentation is sharing knowledge, not hiding it. Documents must be designed to make finding information easy.

  • Help readers understand

Documents must communicate clearly and accurately.

  • Help readers remember

Well designed documents make the information easy to remember by using visual prompts and elements.

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