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Requirements Specifications and Anticipating User Needs:

Methods and Warnings on Writing Development Narratives for New Software

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Abstract:

Purpose: This article studies and determines the benefits for technical communicators using narrative to compose and edit software requirements specifications. Specifically, this article is an examination of requirements specifications written for a Web-based radiology application serving the medical industry.

Method: The study adheres to the usability principle that successful design accommodates complex problem solving. Requirements specifications, the application, and the application's code are examined as part of the study.

Results: The first determination is that composing detailed narratives within the requirements specifications can ensure flexible spaces for users, in this case doctors, to view, study, and manipulate data as they see fit. The article also acknowledges and accounts for the reality of low-level or code-level procedural programming required for creating such flexible spaces. The second determination is that employing narratological structures within requirements specifications also leads to technical inventions at the code level. Practitioners will have a better understanding of how their work facilitates the development of a software application's functionality, design, and even code.

Conclusion: Ultimately, narrative is the suggested method for developing the flexible affordances desired by usability specialists and it simultaneously helps negotiate low-level code.

Keywords: INTERFACE DESIGN; NARRATIVE; REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATIONS; SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT; USABILITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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