Imagine that you just received your favorite video game and now, you have to figure out how to play it. To do so, you launch a tutorial and step by step go through it, to learn the game rules & mechanics.
Think about software documentation as something very similar - it guides you through the complicated world of app development making sure, that you won't stray from the right path.
As a software development team, that already saw thousands of software documentation examples (good and bad) we can give you some first-hand advice on how to prepare your own one right and what are the requirements for it. Enjoy!
For starters: what exactly software documentation is?
Software documentation (specs) are the foundation of an IT project. It’s like a small book that explains everything needed about your application: how to use it, what's the purpose of building it and how do you want to make money through it. Without this document, it will be nearly impossible to know what exactly do you want to build so at the same time - tell you, how much will it cost.
Everyone should have it done before having a serious discussion with a software house about an application to be improved or developed. It needs to be in writing so that anyone who can help you can understand your application idea much better. Once someone has read it, they should have no more questions for you about it.
Why is having software documentation so important?
Because it will tell what to do and how to do it and why to do it. What problem does your app solve, what is your business vision, who is your ideal target customer and which market is your app built for (and industry)? This will serve as a roadmap into a completed successful application.
Your target audience needs to be well defined because it makes the planning and preparation much easier in the long run so you don't have to fix it later on. Which age group are you targeting: students or working professionals. Which geographical region: USA, EU or the Middle East perhaps?
Over the years, even government projects have cost millions and billions of dollars of wasted money due to failures during the projects. Often these failures are related to unplanned changes during the project which have taken the project over the budget and over the estimated time to complete. Example? NHS IT system which has been named one of the "worst fiascos ever". The project failure cost the taxpayers over 9 billion pounds and left them without any working solution. If they have dedicated their time to more careful planning, including sticking to the original project plan, all of these waste could be avoided.
What are the requirements of well - designed software documentation?
It should explain what the application is about (like an uber for dog’s daycare) how it works, which tech stack is used and why, as it may not be so obvious for everyone reading it. It should also include user journeys: when a person clicks A, B happens for example.
For technical people: Are you a technical person who understands programming languages? If yes, then feel free to write which tech stack you believe is the right solution for your app. Our devs can review it and see if its the best solution for your app or not.
For no-technical people: If you are not a technical person, focus on the things you have thought of. It’s ok not to be tech-savvy in this case. That's why a technical team is available for you to talk about more technical aspects if needed to translate it into understandable English.
How do you want the application to look visually? Have an idea about that and a point of reference like ABC.com, helps our designers to come up with thoughts and recommendations for you. What does each window look like when using it? All that matters too.
It's important to define how you are planning to make money because developers need to know what kind of payment integration should be coded into your application. Will it be an ApplePay solution or something else? I recommend that you take a look at our case studies and at the end of each study we have given a summary of technical integrations including payment solutions integrated into the applications. Shawarmer, for example, has a payment solution popular in the UAE market integrated into the system. Is it going to be a one-time fee or per month payment?
A proper written software documentation can range anywhere from a dozen to a few hundred pages - the more complicated it is, the longer specs are in general. It’s like a daily diary: every day you write something until you have a full book of memories and stories about your daily life.
Software documentation free template
Have an idea for some custom software that you want to create & start to make money with it? Follow the steps of or like ? Fill up the form below & download our free software documentation template now and take a first step to making your app idea a reality!
Having specs is the single most important piece of information about your application that is needed to explain everything about your application. It will be used as a point of reference if any misunderstandings arise during the project. It also serves as a road map into a completed application. Invest your time into making proper specs - it will help you in the long-run to develop an application and will save your time and money. Having too much information is definitely better than too little in this case!
Wondering what else do you have to prepare to start your app development process as smoothly as possible? We got you covered - in our article about project kick-off we explain in detail how your experience with the software house will look like from the first message to the project start.