SpoolCast: Documenting Design with Dan Brown

Jared Spool

December 9th, 2008

SpoolCast: Documenting Design with Dan Brown
Recorded: November 28th, 2008
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
Duration: 32m | File size: 17 MB
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If you ask designers what the most frustrating parts about designing a project are, one of the top answers would undoubtedly be “communicating and documenting the design process.” And with good reason… it’s not easy.

That’s why I interviewed Dan Brown for this week’s SpoolCast. I don’t know of anyone who knows more about solid design communications than Dan, the co-founder and principal of Eight Shapes, a UX firm in Washington, D.C. Dan wrote the excellent book Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning, one of our favorite design resources.

In this interview, Dan and I explored the documents that help make large design projects go smoothly. We discussed how these important docs can become living documents (one that evolves when necessary) and how Dan believes there’s value in seeing them as actual team members. That may sound weird unless you think about large teams and the meetings. Sometimes, it’s easier to “ask the document” how something should work instead of figuring out who would be the best person to ask. At meetings, these documents can sit at the table and answer questions, as well!

Dan covers many types of documents in his book: content inventories, usability testing planning, usability testing results, and wireframes, just to name a few. In the podcast, we spent some time with two of the documents: concept models and flow charts. These particular documents are intriguing because they don’t cover concrete ideas (which are easier to document), but instead cover the higher-level abstract ideas that often power the site invisibly.

You can join Dan for his Web App Summit Full-day Workshop, “Communicating Design: Essential Deliverables for Highly Effective Design Teams” and learn to conquer the documents and deliverables which are critical to bringing your designs to life.

How are you using various documentation to keep your projects on track? Let’s hear your documentation questions in the comments. (Dan will monitor your comments and will use them to steer his Web App Summit workshop!)

7 Responses to “SpoolCast: Documenting Design with Dan Brown”

  1. Stuart R-Jones Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Great podcast and what has turned out to be a wonderful surprise – your book. Never thought of myself as a documenter per se but as a designer I see these deliverables as is the info that I need. And not just need, but need to create as well as part of the design process. I’ve only read Wireframes, Concept Models and Content Inventory so far but this is a book that I will continue to use to change and grow the way I work. Thanks.

  2. Dan Brown Says:

    Thanks for the nice comments! Glad to hear the book has been useful to you! If you notice anything missing, or think that the workshop you participated in could be expanded, I’d be very interested in your feedback!

    — Dan

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