Documenting is a way of keeping a record for not only for our own benefit but for those also affected by what we do. It is how we make sure that others aren’t incapacitated in our absence. And, in some ways also helpful in training others. We’ve explored these and other reasons in earlier posts. And, in a post preceding (Best Documenting Practices) this one in the Document It series, we explored some best practices. This series would be incomplete without looking at how to document.
Writing things down is one of the most common ways of documenting. I have suspicions that for most people “documentation” inspires visions of thick manuals. It’s a myth It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if this includes images of a copier and binders. This is one of the simplest ways of keeping a record.
Writing (simple, easy to understand) instructions or records of what you did or what to do. Fight the urge of thinking that writing means producing tomes. Writing is not dead; use it.
Screenshots and photos are a great way to compliment the written. It helps when you can see what is being referenced. Skitch and other annotating apps can help make images more helpful. Illustrations make it easy to know what to look for. Particularly helpful when someone uses a term one is not familiar with.
Use your phone, webcam or whatever camera you have. Remember, the purpose of documenting is not to impress from a production value. The goal is making sure that you’ve captured what you do, how and even why you do something. It is to give share useful guidance and information.
I’m not suggesting you make videos that suck, with terrible lighting and sound. I’m saying you don’t have to make it a big production with unnecessary b-roll or cutaways. Keep the focus on what you need to communicate.
Besides doing talking head videos consider doing screencasts. These can be useful when explaining a process that is likely to happen on screen. For example how a particular programme works or how to use a computer program. You don’t need sophisticated software for this. On macOS / Mac you can use QuickTime Player for this. You can also use VLC media player to do this on other operating systems. There are more tools these are only examples.
Not everyone is great with writing and video can be a good alternative.
I’m sure you’ve caught on–you’re not restricted to the written form or video. You can use audio as well. You can keep a record in voice. Your phone or computer has default software for recording. Remember your audience will only be able to hear you. State things as clearly as you can be.
You’re not restricted to how you document. Use a variety of media or choose one. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that others have access to information with ease. Not only that, but that you communicate it in a clear way. Any means of documenting will be helpful. Remember to make it as easy as possible to access. And, that people know how to get a hold of it when needed.
Do you have any other creative ways or suggestions on how to document?