Document Everything

Some­thing I’ve been think­ing about a lot recent­ly is doc­u­men­ta­tion. And yes, I’m think­ing a lit­tle bit about legacy—documenting our life, and the things we make. How­ev­er, I also mean doc­u­ment­ing our process.

There’s a lot of mys­tery sur­round­ing what we do. I remem­ber being a new­com­er and feel­ing over­whelmed by every­thing it seemed that I need­ed to learn. This is where I think doc­u­men­ta­tion can help us a lot.

As an indus­try, we’re get­ting com­fort­able with doing things in the open. Open Source Design is try­ing to do this, a project which I hap­pen to be a con­trib­u­tor on, and there are oth­er peo­ple doing it.

But what about being open about what we charge for ser­vices? What about talk­ing about how much design­ers should be mak­ing in a begin­ning job? Medi­um lev­el? Senior lev­el? Should we nego­ti­ate for a sign­ing bonus? Do com­pa­nies still do this? To be very hon­est, I only learned about some of these things a cou­ple months ago when I had din­ner with my friend Bermon. Why is this such a mystery?

On a more per­son­al lev­el, what about our process? I have no doc­u­men­ta­tion of my per­son­al design and devel­op­ment process. All of it lives in my head, which quite frankly, isn’t use­ful for any­one. Pric­ing projects could be so much sim­pler if I had a process to run them through.

In a lot of ways, I don’t know what I’m doing. Yet, at the same time, I real­ly do. But that knowl­edge is wast­ed if I don’t share it with oth­ers. Not to men­tion, there will always be peo­ple that can ben­e­fit from some­thing I’ve learned. We’re all in dif­fer­ent places of our career.

In the past month, I’ve met so many smart peo­ple who are say­ing noth­ing. They have great ideas, but they don’t tell any­one about them. Then, there are oth­ers who are con­tent with believ­ing in myth­i­cal gate­keep­ers that pre­vent them from hav­ing a voice in this indus­try.1

It’s rub­bish.

If you want to have a voice, if you want to con­tribute, doc­u­ment every­thing. Tell peo­ple about what you’re doing, why you did it that way, and why oth­ers should think about doing it the same. We need your voice, but no one is going to beg you to use it.

As cliché as it might sound, any­one has the pow­er to make our indus­try bet­ter, and per­son­al­ly that’s why I love our indus­try and work­ing in the open. When many minds come togeth­er and col­lab­o­rate and share, the end result is one-hun­dred times bet­ter. When more peo­ple share, we have a more diverse group of peo­ple to admire, to inter­view, to invite to speak, etc.

Step up. Doc­u­ment everything.

Further Reading

How To Blog About Code and Give Zero Fucks

  1. This par­tic­u­lar­ly makes me mad. It’s so high-school dra­ma. If you want to do some­thing, do it. Com­plain­ing isn’t pro­duc­tive.