Diagram Series: Pitfalls of interviews with SMEs

Look at the following broken-line graph (Figure #1). How much time do you need to create one? 5 – 10 minutes? How about two days?

Figure #1 (Click to enlarge)

Now, if I provide an estimate of two days for creating a graph, my Customer will expect to receive a 3D visualization, in color. Then, where is the problem? Why creating a graph with a few broken lines might take that much time?

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Diagram Series: Decrypting SME’s Drawings

User documentation that includes different types of graphics is more effective and easier to perceive than monotonous text. A diagram is just one type of graphics that prevails mostly in technical documentation. When creating diagrams on a daily basis, you eventually learn to overcome such difficulties as: vague explanations, inaccurate SMEs’ drawings, abundance of details, or lack of information. As an Information Developer, you must know how to combine these diverse chunks to create consistent graphics in user documentation. In this article, I will discuss some tips on decrypting SME’s drawings to make the process of creating diagrams an interesting and creative experience.

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File format does matter – for graphics as well

It goes without saying that a file format does matter.

Being used properly, screenshots, diagrams, and infographics can add significant value to your documentation by making the most complex piece of writing digestible. But what if your graphics is illegible, pixelated, discolored, or isn’t displayed at all? All efforts you made to develop a document can come into nothing and you will need to convert the graphics into another format or, even worse, design it from scratch.

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Graphics, graphic types, and usage

Since software apps and gadgets are conquering the world with the speed of light, the need to create competitive and effective documentation has never been more urgent. Documentation without graphics is a dull, monotonous bulk of text, in one word—lifeless.

Effective documentation usually implies effective graphics. The best way to present technically difficult information is in the form of graphs, charts, diagrams, or tables. The perception of information should not be a tedious, boring, and “painful” process.

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