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Need to improve design writing skills.

By gtmjr ·
Any advice on how to improve my system design writing skills? I have no problem designing a system, but when I need to put the design into words that the client can understand I have problems.

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Some ideas

by ann.feeney In reply to Need to improve design wr ...

The solution will depend on what kinds of problems you have, but here are some possibilities to try, aside from taking a technical writing course, etc..

First, are you sure you need to use as many words as you think you do? If you think visually/structurally instead of verbally (like many engineers), try using something like Visio to sketch out the way the different parts of the system fit together, and add words where they're needed for clarity.

When you describe a component of the system, make sure that you describe it in terms of its most basic function: _what_ it does rather than _how_ it does it.

Find a friendly client, sit down over coffee, and ask exactly what they want to see in a design description. Your problem might be that you're trying to tell them either too much or too little.

The problem might be reconstructing your thoughts. If that's so, while you're designing the system, tape record yourself as if you were explaining the system to a colleague and then transcribe the relevant parts.

This next idea is going to sound as though I'm saying "talk down" to the client, but it's really not. Look at childrens' books on computers and look at the way that they explain concepts. Pretend that you're writing for the same audience, and then when you've done that, edit the vocabulary to an adult level. This helps by breaking the design description down to its smallest parts.

If you speak two languages, one less fluently than the other, mentally translate from your strong language to your weaker one. You'll probably find yourself automatically making your phrases and words more basic.

I hope this helps!

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one more thing . . .

by xxx123 In reply to Need to improve design wr ...

ann.feeney has given you excellent suggestions - I just want to add one more.

Go sit and watch them do their job. You should know what it is they will be doing with the new system and you need to bridge the gap between current business work processes and whatever the new process will be. Learn their terminology and refer to things by their business function names, not by the field name in the database or the server name it runs on or whatever. This goes a LONG way in improving communications.

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