Documenting your UX design concepts is an essential part of any UX designer's job – and as you probably know, documentation is a highly collaborative process. This is an important reason to make sure that your documentation tool is flexible enough to help you collaborate on simple as well as complex design documentation.
As a UX designer at K15t Software I frequently need to document UX design concepts and naturally, there are many different tools I could use. But as far as collaborative platforms go, Confluence is my tool of choice as it provides a couple of advantages which I haven't found anywhere else.
Collaborate with key players
Documenting UX design concepts can be a complex process involving many different people from different departments (and even companies). Collaboration between all involved parties – e.g. UX designers, developers, and product managers – is key to writing useful UX documentation. Alas, collaborating well is no easy task but with Confluence you at least have a tool that was primarily meant to help teams work better together.
It offers an entire arsenal of collaborative features. To name a few:
- comments (inline and page) for feedback and concept discussions
- @-mentions to clearly assign tasks
- share button to bring colleagues up to speed
- simultaneous page editing for collaborative writing sessions
Our Scroll Exporters also make sharing UX design concepts and documentation with external partners quick and easy.
Using Confluence has eliminated the need to send hundreds of emails back and forth, spend hours trying to contact hard-to-reach developers over the phone, and schedule meetings which end up being postponed or useless because the deciding manager couldn't attend. Instead, I can discuss issues with colleagues through inline comments right within the relevant paragraph, quickly reach the product's lead developer through an @-mention, and receive timely feedback from my manager by sharing a doc page without having to wait for the next meeting.
Confluence's inherent purpose of catering to team collaboration can surely improve your documentation process as well.
Adjust as needed
Imagine this: you're sitting in front of your laptop and are about to get started on your UX documentation. You open your editor and see a very full but structured doc layout. How do you react? Do you think "great, this will help" or do you think "oh no, I just wanted to jot down a few things"? It doesn't really matter, because Confluence adapts to your documenting needs by providing as much or little structure as you need or want.
If you are like me and prefer starting with a blank page to just quickly jot down ideas, you'll love Confluence. It's simple to use, with enough word processing options to keep you happy but not too many to frustrate. You start off with a blank page which allows you to focus on your ideas instead of distracting you. Later on you can start structuring and formatting, if necessary.
But perhaps you're working on an idea which needs to be structured in the same way as another project or you just prefer a guided documentation process. In that case, you'll also love Confluence because of its templates – allowing you to define page elements like tables, note and warning macros, or page properties to which you can add instructional text.
Basically, Confluence gives you as much structure as you need whereas few other tools offer such flexibility.
If you use JIRA Software to manage your projects, you can add tickets relating to your UX doc page in Confluence – showing you the status, assignee, and other variables of those issues right on page.
Create text and visuals in one system
Visual enhancement of UX concept documentation doesn't only make sense but is painless in Confluence. It allows you to easily integrate a variety of add-ons with which you can quickly add visual information e.g. diagrams, image maps or flow charts to your concept docs from right within your editor.
Visuals like flow charts can be very powerful, especially if the UX design has many different user flows. Describing these in a couple of paragraphs probably won't be as easy to understand or as fast as drawing a diagram or flow chart. The Atlassian Marketplace offers add-ons like Draw.io or Gliffy which let you create visual aids directly in your documentation. Of course, you could also switch to an external, more sophisticated graphic tool to create images if you wanted to but it's not a particularly efficient process. It interrupts the documentation flow and necessitates exporting, versioning and uploading images. By using a Confluence add-on you'll not only be able to keep working in one system but you'll also be able to easily keep your visuals up-to-date as changes to the source image are dynamically delivered to each use location.
Having one environment in which to write docs and create corresponding imagery can definitely make your doc process more efficient.
You can also K15t Software's Scroll ImageMap to turn existing images in Confluence into engaging information hubs.
Attach all kinds of assets
Prototypes, spec files, and concept visualization are integral parts of UX design and so they should be part of your UX documentation as well. With Confluence you'll have the opportunity to visually preview a broad range of file types to enhance your written docs.
Whether you use video, or a prototyping tool like Marvel or Sketch to showcase your prototype, a PDF to add extra information to your docs, or deliver design specifications, the advantage of using Confluence is that you can preview most of them directly within the right documentation paragraph – providing your readers with context before they actually view a prototype or examine design specs. If you just sent them a plain file link they would be left to their own devices to figure out what they are supposed to focus on. You could end up with your client believing the prototype you sent is a final draft, even though you just wanted to report on progress.
Add all relevant UX design assets (documentation, prototypes, design specifications, etc.) to a Confluence space to preview your design assets in the right context and to provide your team or clients with a single source of truth.
Integrate all design specs
Delivering exact design specifications right in your UX design concept and documentation makes life easier for designers and developers alike. Designers get exactly what they want and developers don't need to improvise or ask about sizes, colors, and fonts. Fortunately, Confluence offers multiple ways of directly integrating such design specifications.
Sketch is one of the most popular prototyping tools out there and the Sketch Measure plugin gives you the power to easily extract all design specs. You could simply attach these design spec files to a Confluence page for all to see or you can use Inspector Sketch – a free add-on developed by us – to directly integrate them.
If you use Photoshop, you'll also be able to just attach the design spec files to the appropriate Confluence page.
Your collaborators will be thankful for being able to access all the information they need from just one place.
Try it out
Naturally, there are many different approaches and tools you could use for documenting your UX design concepts, but hopefully I was able to demonstrate the advantages of using a collaborative platform like Confluence.
Atlassian offers a 7-day free trial. Just head over to their website to try Confluence out.