For the Record: Why Documentation Matters

I would start, instead, by asking: Why wouldn’t it?

The whole concept of having a document to support your working process through any kind of project is so useful it’s a must. And the best way to prove that is by focusing on the downsides of NOT having a proper document

When we don’t produce documentation for our active projects, we

  • Neglect our opportunity to effectively control the workflows
  • Don’t actually respect timetables
  • Hardly have a correct order of working or producing deliverables
  • Tend to skip deliverables (because we tend to not give them the importance they actually have)
  • Have a hard time managing changes and iterations
  • Don’t have a solid background to support later decisions

The actual contents of a proper document depend, of course, of the kind of project we work on, but the need for that document is persistent. There are even many options to avoid high amounts of text that are probable to never be read again by anyone in the future. Projects related to web design and development can have highly relevant documents conformed by the deliverables of the planning stages such as:

  • Interaction diagrams
  • Wireframes (both low and high quality)
  • Rough sketches
  • Brainstorming diagrams
  • Information architecture diagrams
  • Data tables (e.g. time tables)
  • Among others

Besides, documents shouldn’t be viewed as the tedious part of the job. There are many reasons why I absolutely LOVE creating my final document:

  • It gives an order to all of the deliverables throughout the project
  • It helps me improve my future projects and find deficiencies in the current workflows
  • It is a great support for selling the current project and the ones to come

You do need, of course, a certain set of skills required by the person (or team) that will ultimately be in charge of gathering this final document:

  • Technical vocabulary domain
  • Good grammar skills
  • Insightful researcher and analyst
  • Great patience and sense of order
  • General knowledge of the project being documented

So start working on your project documentation. It might take up more time than what you originally planned to invest, but the results will definitely be worthwhile.