Workflows

29 Jan 2004 - 10:40pm
10 years ago
2 replies
554 reads
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 29, 2004, at 7:29 PM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> What workflows do others use for documentation?

Of course, no discussion about workflow would be relevant without
understanding the content that is being created in that workflow.

IOW, are folks just creating drawings with the most basic of
annotations, or is there more complex descriptions and narrative flow
from page to page with text? Do the drawings need to be repurposed for
the web, as single images each or a collection only to be viewed as a
PDF document? Do images have to be reused individually, or as a
collection? Etc.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

Comments

29 Jan 2004 - 11:00pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Excellent point. Please try and address the relevant questions
highlighted by Andrei when describing the workflow you use (e.g.
purpose, final deliverables, goals).

To add these to my previous workflow description - our goal is to
provide documentation to our clients. Typically, this is done
electronically as a final deliverable. Therefore, we typically need to
collect the drawings for output into a final PDF. However, for some
documents, large visual site maps, task flows, we will also print large
banner sized versions with the help of a place like Kinkos. PDF still
works reliably here - makes it easy for the printer. These larger
banners work great for client presentations and really make an
impression. Plus they have something they can take away from the
meeting/project and proudly show to others.

Our wireframes typically don't get repurposed in whole, but
occasionally get repurposed in part i the visual design. Additionally,
our wireframes include descriptive text about basic interaction and
cross reference each other. Each wireframe is given an image id (e.g.
01.1 Home page). And that id is used in cross-referencing.

We don't create 80+ individual .ai files as it's a nighmare to try and
have 80 .ai files open at once and navigate through them to change
things. It's pretty rare that you only have to make one change in a
wireframe. If you make one interaction change, that typically has a
waterfall effect that carries over to many other wireframes - another
reason that 80 .ai files in a folder that get imported into ID or
something else (Quark) doesn't work for us.

For reports, we're using Quark and ID - bouncing back and forth trying
to make that decision. Word just doesn't give us the flexibility needed
to make our reports the way we want - clean and professional like a
user guide for a product - not the stale old standard report.

On Jan 29, 2004, at 10:40 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> IOW, are folks just creating drawings with the most basic of
> annotations, or is there more complex descriptions and narrative flow
> from page to page with text? Do the drawings need to be repurposed for
> the web, as single images each or a collection only to be viewed as a
> PDF document? Do images have to be reused individually, or as a
> collection? Etc.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
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In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.
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30 Jan 2004 - 9:10am
vutpakdi
2003

A little context setting first: I work for Landmark Graphics Corporation, a
software and services provider for the oil and gas industry. Companies
like Shell and Exxon use our software to find and determine the best way to
get oil and gas out of the ground. The various software applications is
very much vertical market and is developed by teams of developers split
across 5 cities (3 US, 1 Canada, 1 Norway). The company is still very,
very new to usability and interaction design which makes it easy for me to
look good *when* I'm able to have an impact.

I've worked on a couple of large "from scratch" design projects, but most
of my work involves improving what a developer has "designed" or designing
small UIs (usually dialog level) for some developers who have learned to
trust my design skills over their own.

For the most recent large design project, the effort centered around
crafting a product concept for the executive management team to green light
and to provide an initial design sketch for a development team (assuming
the project got green lighted). Our concept team consisted of product
managers, domain experts, and me. My role was to take in what the product
managers and domain experts conceived in mostly vague "wordy" terms and
bring it to life with wireframes and mockups. Deliverables were
wireframes/mockups in GIF/JPEG/PNG format for inclusion in a PowerPoint
presentation (mostly representing sequences in workflows and concepts), a
set of large posters, each showing a workflow illustrated by wireframes and
mockups, and my workbook for the development team (PDF format).

I just created a "publication" document in Canvas and started doing my
wireframes. Almost each page consisted of a title, a wireframe or mockup,
and explanatory text. The document was a workbook for me to create the
wireframes and mockups. The early graphics were purely wireframe. As we
went along and felt more comfortable with designs, I created mockups by
taking a wireframe and inserting slightly edited/manipulated bitmap
graphics of seismic sections and the like (also using native Canvas tools).
Throughout the effort, I created PDF versions of my workbook (using the
built in PDF exporter) for distribution to the concept team (about half
weren't local to my office).

Once we were satisfied with the initial design concept, I created 6 posters
in a different Canvas document to illustrate different workflows using
wireframes and mockups from the workbook (copy, paste, position, add
explanatory text and graphics). I saved the poster file in PDF format for
distribution and printing.

For the PowerPoint presentation, I just exported the wireframes/mockups to
GIF, JPEG, or PNG (select, "Save As").

The executive management team really liked the posters, and the EMT
approved the project.

For the smaller efforts, I also create a Canvas workbook and do all of my
wireframes in the document. If there is an existing "design" I usually
include a couple of screen captures and then provide my suggestions. The
suggestions are wireframes (and possibly mockups) along with explanatory
text. The end product for the developer (and the development team, QA, and
the product manager if appropriate) is a PDF version of my workbook. If
appropriate, I'll create a "report" version that just has the final design
and not the intermediate designs. For the non-report versions, I'll
usually move older or intermediate designs to the back of the workbook
(easy to do).

I do reuse some wireframes and components either by putting "building
blocks" into a common resource file or just copying and pasting within the
same document. Going through one file would be much easier for me than
opening and closing many files.

I also produce a biweekly series of one page design and usability "tip
sheets" for developers. For these sheets, each tip sheet is a separate
document in Canvas exported to PDF. I tried exporting to HTML, but I
didn't like the results as well. The tip sheets include hyperlinks to
selected references and related tip sheets.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

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