A quick guide to documenting your UX work
Make your life a little easier by documenting your work whilst you are working on a design project. Trust me, your future self will thank you.
When working on my portfolio I have lost count of the times I have needed to recall a detail; sometimes I even failed to remember the business case and reason for the project in the first instance. For a few years now I have been documenting my work as I am working on it and I am so glad I have.
The PROs of documenting throughout a project
Saves time when you are building your case study and portfolio at a later date
More detail is captured, so that the case studies end up being more accurate
You will have more content to work with, making curating your case study and portfolio easier
The task of writing your case study and portfolio will be less daunting
Documenting your process will help you improve your future work, especially if you make notes of the challenging moments
You can focus more on the design without worrying about lack of content
Making notes of details will give you more to talk about in interviews
The CONs of documenting throughout a project
You need to remember to do it, or be bothered
Some work may not be worth documenting in the end
You need to be really organised and plan ahead
Looking at all the pros and cons, I think it is clear to see that documenting your work and progress is worth it. The next challenge is where to start, here is a break down of my tried and tested method.
Start with a document.
It doesn’t matter which product you choose, as long as you are happy to continue to use it. I have tried Google Docs, and Evernote. I am currently using Notion. I would also strongly recommend something like Grammarly to check your spelling and grammar throughout.
Creating a structure allows you to be able to form a template for yourself. A basic case study
could consist of:
However more detailed and complex case studies will require breakdowns of particular features or design decisions. This is where your documentation really helps as you can explain what you did or did not try, but more importantly, why that was the case. Mention any technical issues you had, changes due to research findings, scope creeps, and design developments. Of course this is much harder to do in retrospect.
For larger projects it is worth breaking down your document into smaller sections that consist of dates, links to supporting documents, milestones, specific issues, and design features. Make a record of things in chronological order, this will help start you portfolio in good stead.
Once you have a done this a few times, you should be able to see clear patterns in what you are documenting and how you are doing it. This is where a template will help. If you want a head start or looking for inspiration download my free template by subscribing to my newsletter
As a designer, supporting documents are important in showing progression throughout a project. Think about what might be appropriate for you to present:
Before and after shots
Screen recording of prototypes
Sketches (don’t forget to date them)
Work in progress documentation
Notes and other text documents you may have used
Start a document when you start a new project
Keep a record of sketches, hand written notes, and photos
Create a timeline of chronological events
Date your work (all of it)
Take time to record your progress (even if it is once a month)