Documentation Project

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Documentation Project

In this project, you will research processes or procedures associated with some aspect of composing, designing, sharing, or publishing information, which may include visual content (images, video, or animation), then write documentation that teaches users how to complete five (5) important, interesting, or challenging processes or procedures. The focus should be on some aspect of one of the Adobe tools in the Creative Cloud (including Apps) and should teach fellow students how to use the tool in a way that contextualizes it. (So, for example, "Top Five Ways to Use Adobe Acrobat to Comment on Peer Drafts" or "Five Ways to Improve your Behance Profile.") Your finished project will be an effectively designed example of user documentation that teaches users efficiently. (See some examples below.)

You may collaborate on this project if you wish, but please notify Dr. B. and explain how you think your collaboration would produce an even better project and copying the other member of your team. Your documentation should also teach users how to complete ten (10) important steps if you decide to collaborate. If you choose the collaborative option, you need to complete a Collaborative Project Evaluation Form in PDF format using Adobe Acrobat and submit it when the project is due. (Individual or Collaborative; 120 points; 12% of course grade.)


Write user documentation that teaches people processes or procedures associated with some aspect of composing, designing, sharing, curating, or publishing information, or that helps people solve an interesting or recurring problem. Any of the Adobe tools or apps in the Creative Cloud are fair game. Choose an application that you want to learn more about and that will teach users how to do something new, creative, or interesting.

Discussion of the Prompt

You can interpret what this prompt asks broadly. Here are some suggestions:

  1. To choose your topic, rely on expertise, experiences, and interests you already have. You needn't already be an expert user of the Adobe software or app, but you need to be eager to learn more about it and do a little online research. Use the software or app to create something, and read/watch what others say about it. See for lots of demonstrations about a wide range of tools. (In fact, you should include links to Adobe documentation, which is very good, in your own project (e.g., "For Further Reading")
  2. Some good examples of this sort of documentation can be found at ProfHacker or LifeHacker (see Examples section below). You can also look here for some good examples by Clemson students:
  3. Try to come up with creative, crafty, witty, tricky, or ingenious "hacks" of one of the Adobe tools/apps (a technology, game, app, etc.) that busy college students might need to learn how to use, then show them how it's done. (Needless to say, the process or procedure should be legal and within the bounds of good taste.)
  4. Your subject should be well focused so that you can document the processes or procedures efficiently using images, screenshots, and words in the equivalent of 4-5 printed pages, or 4-5 screens of information on a Web page. You could use Adobe Captivate to create your documentation (Captivate is screen capture software that helps you use images, motion, and audio to communicate.)
  5. Your audience for the documentation is an active and interested user of the media, social network, technology, or device (a college student like you).
  6. To help you think of a topic, plug some possibilities into the blank: "How to do five cool things with __________." (Plug-in things like "Adobe Ideas App," "Captivate," "Photoshop," "," etc.

Some Examples

These examples are about the right length and include both images and text in good proportion. They aren't focused on Adobe tools or Apps, but you'll get the idea regarding length and presentation. More examples will appear on the calendar.

Why Adobe Connect? or The Top 9 Cool Things You Can Do in Adobe Connect

21 Incredibly Simple Photoshop Hacks Everyone Should Know

Here's what an eavesdropper sees when you use an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot (PC World) << New!

Video Presentation: Illustrator: 5 cool tips and tricks in Adobe Illustrator

How to Send an RSS Feed to Your Email Account (George Williams at ProfHacker)

Host a Website on Google Drive (George Williams at ProfHacker)

Nikola Tesla's Best Productivity Tricks (Thorin Klosowski at LifeHacker)

How to See Who Views Your Facebook Profile (Garth Sundem at HowStuffWorks)

Steps in the Process

1. Topic Proposal. In a blog post (tag: documentation topic) identify your topic and a working title (like those above) and then explain in about 100 words why you've chosen the topic and why you're clever enough to document it. Due: June 28 (by midnight)

2. Research. Find out everything there is to know about your topic:

  • Read any existing user documentation relevant to your topic that you can find, including user documentation that might already be provided with the product or process.
  • If your topic is a "lifehack" of some sort, find out what other people say about it.
  • Ask someone (in person or online) what s/he knows about some specific aspect of your topic
  • Read the replies to your topic proposal written by your peers.

In a blog post (tag: documentation research), summarize in 200 words what you researched and what you've learned that you didn't know before. Due: June 30.

3. Collect Assets. You'll need images and screenshots for your project, ones that you create yourself (with a camera or screencapture software) or that you use from other sources. If you use images from another source, you must have permission to use it in your project, which means that you'll want to use Creative Commons licensed, public domain, or royalty-free content. Here's a page with Sources for Royalty-Free Photos, Illustrations, Content. You'll also want to have some screen capture softward (onboard in both Mac and Windows) to collect screen shots. (Adobe Captivate will help with that also.) Due: On your own, but suggested completion by July 3.

  • Asset Collection: Using authentic content, produce samples and screenshots that you'll use later to illustrate key steps in the process or procedure.
  • Screen capture: Install a Google Chrome browser extension for making screenshots. Try "Screen Capture" by Google or "Awesome Screenshot: Capture and Annotate" by Diigo, or Skitch (for marking up screenshots). Practice using it to create annotated images. Or use GrabIt (a pre-installed app in Mac OS) or check out this list at The Best Screen Capture Tool for Windows at LifeHacker.
  • Create your own Dropbox folder to store your assets and if you are working collaboratively or need Dr. B.'s assistance, share the folder. Be sure to give it a name that clearly identifies what it is and who owns the folder, e.g., YourLastName Documentation Assets. Do not create this folder in the class's shared Dropbox folder or else everyone in the class will share these files.

4. Plan and Compose Your Documentation. July 1-5

  • Your documentation should have clearly defined sections:
    • Opener that captures someone's interest, explains the need (called "exigency"), and communicates what knowing this process will help the reader accomplish.
    • Concise overview or summary of the process, procedure, or problem including list of recommended or required software (platform, version, availability), tools, etc. (whatever the user might need)
    • Scenarios for use (how or when have real people, including you, needed this information? why would they follow the procedure, how has someone used this process to solve a problem?)
    • Steps for each "tip" (broken into discrete steps as needed), supported by visual examples and samples; all images and screenshots should have explanatory captions and be numbered sequentially (e.g., Figure 1. Adjusting brightness level on a Kindle Paperwhite).
    • Sources used and/or resources for additional help
    • Authorship information
  • Compose your documentation in a word processor (e.g, Google Docs preferred so that you can share it easily), Adobe InDesign (highly recommended), Dreamweaver, or similar Web authoring tool or (if you're adventurous) a program like Adobe Captivate, Prezi, Keynote, Haiku (Windows app), or Camtasia (available for 30-day free trial download).

5. User-Test Your Documentation. Find out if a typical user can follow your directions well enough to successfully complete the process. Post your full draft by Tuesday, July 5 (tag: documentation draft). Peer review will involve having two peers user-test the documentation and provide feedback using a review sheet provided via the calendar

6. Polish the Documentation. Using the results of user-testing, revise and polish the documentation.

Your final document(s) should be submitted to the "Documentation Project Deliverables" subfolder in the "314 Technical Writing" folder in Box. Your project submission should consist of a single PDF document or (if you use another type of media for your presentation, such as HTML) a folder with supporting files, images, links, etc. all collected in a zip (compressed archive) file. (Due Friday, July 8). The file or folder should be named as follows: Lastname_DocumentationProject

Collaborative Option

You may choose to collaborate with a peer on this project. If you do, you should complete the Collaborative Project Evaluation Form at the end of the project and submit it to Dr. Blakesley separately by email no later than July 8, 2015 (the last day of class).


Your project will be graded based on the quality and accuracy of your documentation, as well as its presentation and usability. You must complete all steps in the process on time, including the collaborative evaluation form, to earn a passing grade on the project. The project counts for 12% of your course grade, or 120 points.