The 7 Righteous Fights

Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 4:00pm4:45pm

Heidi Waterhouse, Documentation Mercenary


Usually we think of compound interest as what adds magically to our retirement or makes our student loans last forever. But there is also a compound interest of technical debt, where a project is made harder and more expensive because of early "cost-saving" choices.

I think it's empowering for developers and other people involved in the inception of a project to have tools for making the project better long-term.

The seven things I think should be considered very early in development are:

  1. Localization. Are you ever planning on selling this to someone in another country?
  2. Security. Don't be the organization that has to pay someone for disaster PR. Building in security early saves you a bunch of time and user churn later.
  3. Extensibility. What makes you so sure this API will always be internal?
  4. Documentation. People do not buy software solely based on PowerPoints. You need public docs. The docs have to be more useful than Stack Overflow.
  5. Affordance. UI is not a word. The microtext matters.
  6. Acceptance. Have you shown this to any actual humans who are like the users?
  7. Accessibility. We all use computers different ways. Does your software allow that?

I expect this talk will be relevant to both senior people working on leading project teams, and empowering for juniors who don't have a structure for critiquing usability problems. I want people to leave with an understanding of how small changes in the initial trajectory of a project can lead to greatly improved outcomes.

Heidi Waterhouse, Documentation Mercenary

Heidi is a technical documentation mercenary who specializes in setting up documentation for new products and companies. She is also a globe-spanning speaker who loves to explain to developers how to make their lives easier in the long run. When she's not writing nerdy documents, she helps raise two kids, sews her own clothes, and cycles in Minnesota, even in the winter.

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@conference {201536,
author = {Heidi Waterhouse},
title = {The 7 Righteous Fights},
year = {2016},
address = {Boston, MA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = dec

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