Industry'Communicating Design' by Dan Brown

Documentation. Makes you want to call it a day and start with some real work tomorrow. Or at least that’s the reaction that you often come across in web design, even with seasoned developers and designers. Yet the biggest problems we often come across in our work are ones related to communication; problems with people from marketing; clients with bad ideas; management with worse ideas. What if you could make them understand your vision? Documentation is the answer.

Communicating Design, by Dan Brown is one of very few books that address the subject of documenting a modern web design project. With chapters ranging from personas and usability testing to content inventory, sitemaps and wireframes, the book covers a lot of ground, with something for everyone; from project managers to interface designers.

The chapters each follow the same general format, and can be read in pretty much any order – making the book an ideal reference to have lying around. Each chapter breaks the chosen deliverable into three layers; essential, enhancements and contextual information, which makes getting started easier and further adding to the book’s reference potential. The chapters also include tips on presenting the various documents, and useful information which places them in the wider context of a project.

Dan Brown does a very good job of describing a potentially dull subject in useful ways. As a long time contributer to Boxes and Arrows and an active member of the Information Architecture community his experience comes through in the examples, and in particular the real world problems you may encounter when using the proposed deliverables. These sections on when, how and what to deliver to clients really raise the book into must-read territory.

The most impressive aspect of the book though is the up-to-date discussion. Not content with describing what makes a good site map and how to present it we get the author’s well-thought out ideas on whether sitemaps are indeed up to the task in a world of user-generated content, search and non-hierarchical site structures (probably not apparently). In another chapter a disussion of the problems involved in carrying out a large content inventory are accompanied by details of why the perfect tool for the job is difficult to come by.

A minor issue is that the book focuses on the documentation of the interface design aspects of a web design project at the expense of including chapters or comment on documenting the more technical, functional, aspects of development. In fairness it doesn’t set out to plug this gap in the market, although personaly I’d love to see a follow up in the same style. Communicating Development anyone? With all the diagrams throughout the book full colour would have been nice, but these really are minor points.

Overall Communicating Design is a good read, covering techniques that you can jump right in with, and providing hard earned, real world knowledge in digestable chunks. For anyone interested in improving their design documentation this will be a solid purchase, for anyone not interested in creating better documentation this should be required reading.

32 Responses to “'Communicating Design' by Dan Brown”

  1. Londen bezienswaardigheden on March 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm said:

    Wow, great review. When my next birthday is there, this is on the list as present. Would be nice to see a sample chapter. Is it available?

  2. Very good review. In all it sounds like a book that is worth reading it. Anyone knows where I can read a sample chapter?

  3. gay sohbet on December 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm said:

    thanks you bro

  4. thanks you, ok12tay

  5. konya chat on November 22, 2009 at 4:56 pm said:

    konya sohbet

  6. Good review, sounds like a good book thats worth reading it. Pity that there isn’t a sample chapter available on the homepage. I’m waiting for it.

  7. kameralı sohbet on August 7, 2009 at 8:07 pm said:

    I think this is a very good article. Thanks very much for it, it was very helpfull. Keep up the good work!

  8. sohbet on May 25, 2009 at 11:30 am said:

    thanks

  9. sohbet on May 25, 2009 at 11:01 am said:

    thankss

  10. Edencity Chat on May 23, 2009 at 1:38 am said:

    hallo i wish you verry succes operator

  11. Thank You Admin

  12. sohbet on May 7, 2009 at 4:06 pm said:

    thank you

  13. Articles on April 26, 2009 at 9:45 pm said:

    I'm gonna have to grab the book right now 🙂

  14. Articles on April 27, 2009 at 2:45 am said:

    I'm gonna have to grab the book right now 🙂

  15. Parijs Trein on January 18, 2009 at 9:32 am said:

    I think this is a very good article. Thanks very much for it, it was very helpfull. Keep up the good work!

  16. oyun oyna on January 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm said:

    The idea of creating a useful documentation for such projects is quite good, but should not permit to forget that you should also create a technical documentation, referring to all the classes, functions, etc..

  17. ryancarson on January 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm said:

    Testing a comment reply!

  18. Proxy Surf on August 8, 2008 at 5:02 am said:

    thanks again

  19. Müzik Dinle on August 8, 2008 at 5:01 am said:

    o my god

  20. its really wonderfull

  21. uxdesign.com on June 25, 2008 at 5:09 pm said:

    Good book, but the only one of its kind that I’ve encountered that PROVIDES NO EXAMPLES via book site (communicatingdesign.com). Its a book about design documentation the provides no sample doc’s! LAME. Compare to
    web-redesign.com….

  22. dantel on May 26, 2008 at 2:00 pm said:

    thanx you nice text

  23. jason millward on March 18, 2008 at 11:32 am said:

    Sounds like a very worthwhile read. It definately going on my “to read” pile. Thanks

  24. Webmaster on January 23, 2008 at 10:06 pm said:

    I think you did a great job of pointing out the major strengths and weaknesses of the book.

  25. Şarkı Sözleri on January 22, 2008 at 4:28 am said:

    I think,Ä°t is Very nice information…

  26. Ä°t Ä°s Very Nice Ä°nformation…

  27. http//www.sohbetbol.net ?

  28. what do you think about http://fivq.com/ ? is it good place for web developers?

  29. Webmirer on June 8, 2007 at 8:34 pm said:

    Most of the time websites are done on adhoc basis by many “designers”. The trouble is that tracking the success of the project and even the process itself becomes very problematic. Having an approach like project management and using the right tools with right methods are critical. Spelling it out, it is all about having control and management of the project which produces a winner each and everytime.

  30. I like the new web 2.0 designs.
    I think if you keep your website, even if it´s an old company, in the new web 2.0 style like Digg,
    Netscape
    or SoulCast for example you can not do that much wrong, from design perspective. People just like the new designs because they look so communicative.

  31. Marla Erwin on November 28, 2006 at 3:58 pm said:

    Stefan, Digital Web has an excerpt from the chapter on competitive analysis.

  32. Good review, sounds like a good book thats worth reading it. Pity that there isn’t a sample chapter available on the homepage. I’m waiting for it.

    The idea of creating a useful documentation for such projects is quite good, but should not permit to forget that you should also create a technical documentation, referring to all the classes, functions, etc..

    Greetings from Germany,

    Stefan

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