The Project Cycle

In technical writing, the life cycle of a project involves research, prototyping, testing, revising, polishing, and delivering.  These stages overlap, and sometimes feed back into one another.  For instance, if you testing uncovers big problems with your prototype, you may have to do more background research to fix the problem.

19 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
Prototypes in Technical Writing: What Are They?
A good prototype will help you identify flaws (research gaps or mistaken assumptions) long before you have dug yourself into a hole by investing a lot of time in it. A sculptor makes a scale model in clay -- a prototype -- before chiseling away at a full-sized chunk of marble. It it much easier to fix major mistakes in clay than it is to throw away a ruined chunk of marble and start over again.

19 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
Usability Testing: What Is It?
The first rule of technical writing is "know your audience."  But even the best planning cannot predict all possible user errors.  This document introduces the concept of testing for usability, which measures whether test subjects can actually use your prototype to complete assigned tasks.

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Jakob Nielsen
The Usability Lifecycle
Anything that is based on a linear progression from one set of specs to the next will fail, because most people cannot read specs. Also doomed to fail is the popular but extremely wasteful Internet strategy of throwing something up onto a website and hoping that it "sticks." What does work is iterative design.

Compiled by Dennis G. Jerz
19 Jul 2000 -- First posted
23 Aug 2002 -- Last modified

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