Whether you document continuously or late in the process, it always seems to come down to this: anxiously awaiting for project completion so you can finally start serious work on the visuals for your documentation.
It makes sense. Waiting until the project is ‘frozen’ means less time re-doing work when the product changes (as it almost always does…ask me how I know).
But it also involves the wide-eyed anxiety of those final stages (Is it done yet?!), then a mad-rush to write it up succinctly and accurately, in time for delivery (fingers crossed, and still not blinking).
It’s a hectic process. But what’s the alternative? Re-work takes time, especially when your documentation involves screenshots or diagrams.
Take the pain out of screenshots
Finally, there’s a better way. The most recent image editing technology lets you easily update visuals and alter your screenshots.
You can update only the parts that have changed, in tandem with changes in the UI or project, without having to take all new screenshots. This is a game-changer in letting you get a head start on your documentation earlier in the project cycle. Instead of being clunky, static snapshots, they can evolve over time.
What once took agonizing hours with complicated image editors now only takes a few seconds. Content-aware editing cleverly susses out what is around your selection so that when you move it, it automagically fills in the gaps. Instead of having to fill in a background manually when you move something around, the software does it for you. This turns what used to be a very painful process into a quick and easy way to alter images to put into your documentation.
Four ways content-aware editing saves you time (and hassle!)
1) Change the user interface
Most of the time, the overall layout of the user interface is mapped out early on, with minor changes along the way. Now, you can take screenshots at any point in the process and change them as you go. When a button moves locations, you can easily switch it around in your screenshots, without having to go back to the source. This saves countless hours of figuring out where the new build is, installing it, and then capturing screenshots all over again.
2) Move around elements of a website
Given the iterative nature of web development, webpage components seem to move around on a regular basis. Navigation buttons, links, and form fields are replaced, altered, and removed throughout the cycle, resulting in documentation that is quickly outdated. Content-aware editing lets you avoid this cruft by editing your screenshots easily, to match the changing website. With just a few clicks, you can change around what you need so that your documentation is in sync with the current website.
3) Alter a diagram
Content-aware editing lets you easily change around parts of the graphic without needing to re-draw or re-CAD the entire thing. You can also change the steps in a process, without losing your background images and colors. While this isn’t recommended for to-scale engineered blueprints, it can save a lot of time when updating user-level instructions commonly used in how-manuals and other visual documentation.
4) Edit screenshot objects or text
There are often times you have screenshots of a product interface, and sometimes that interface may change. Instead of starting from scratch, you can now move elements around, including text. This may involve editing, re-sizing, or re-positioning pieces of the image, giving you an updated and polished version of your already-existing screenshot.
Making visual documentation sustainable
Being able to easily edit images also helps you keep documentation up to date for inevitable changes down the road. Given the rate at which programs are updated, a single “hand-off” of documentation is succumbing to a model of ever-evolving documentation that is updated continuously.
Whichever way your workflow leans, content-aware editing helps gives you choice in how you work, so that the end-game of the development cycle can be for revisions, not starting from scratch. And, significantly, you can keep your documentation current without having to re-work all the visual elements – saving you time, money, and hassle.
Have you tried content-aware editing? Snagit offers magic-wand selection, as well as ordered numbers to notate steps, arrows, and more, for polished instructions and documentation. Try it for free today.