A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson

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eXtreme Documentation and Design

What quicker way can there be to find out if something is teachable than to write up task-oriented documentation? And as things are built or changed, the documentation is updated. I often update the documentation before the code!

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>Documentation>Agile>Extreme Documentation


Goal Oriented Requirements

Your requirements document needs to focus on the user’s goals. They should not be marketing’s list of features 'we’ve got to have' because the competition has these features. They should not be a list of things the programmers think ought to be included 'because we can add those things for very little cost.' Feature bloat does not benefit the user.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Specifications>Software


Handheld Devices and the Flow of Functionality

Handheld devices and small appliances pose a unique challenge to the interface designer. The blur between user interface and functionality (interface vs. interaction) is even more pronounced in these environments. The interface of any small device is extremely important; yet, more than ever, the necessity to build in exactly (and only) what is required by the user is extremely important!

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>User Interface>Workflow>PDA


Perpetual Design-Think

Software is sometimes poorly designed to begin with and the interface should be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch. But more often than not, I see software that started with a decent design and has since had features added onto it with each release, squeezed into the existing design rather than being designed in. People aren't in a design mindset but an 'enhancement' mindset somehow.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>User Interface>Usability


Requirements vs. Solutions

Your requirements will assist you in delivering a software solution that meets your users' needs. You can find all sorts of templates and formal processes for requirements of various kinds, and while they are useful, the biggest problem I've found is that most people confuse defining the need with proposing a solution. As soon as a requirements document contains any part of 'how we're solving this', you've crossed the line into presupposing that you already know what the problem is and can stop listening.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Careers>Consulting>Specifications


The Secret Ingredient of Every Methodology

In any software development methodology, there's a secret ingredient that doesn't get enough press. It doesn't matter whether you follow Cooper, Beck, McConnell, or anyone else on the long list of notables.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>Software>Methods


Smart and Lazy Software Development

Smart and energetic people believe 'Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.' Smart and lazy people say 'Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow!' This is, to me, one of the most useful tenets from the eXtreme Programming movement.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>Management>Programming


Task Based Documentation and Good User Interface Go Hand in Hand

As I write the 'how to' documentation based upon the in-process design, the weaknesses of my original design become apparent and I go back and forth from writing text to designing the software until it all flows.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>Documentation>User Interface>Usability


User Interface Should Be a Team Effort

Let's say you've got a clear set of requirements; the users have been defined, the features are associated with user tasks, marketing has done a competitive analysis and everything is good to go. Now what?

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. Sprezzatura Systems (2002). Articles>User Interface>Collaboration


XP Design and Documentation

A broader awareness of how changes can impact other things, including schedule commitments and work outside of the immediate area of change, is beneficial in terms of assessing trade-offs and benefits.

Ferlazzo, Ellen Lawson. XProgramming.com (2002). Articles>Documentation>Agile>Extreme Documentation

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