Artifact: User Support Material
This artifact consists of materials that assist the end-user in learning, using, operating and maintaining the product.
Domains: Deployment
Work Product Kinds: Solution

The purpose of this work product is to guide and support the user in how to use the product.

Main Description

End-user support material is typically required of any system that has an interface that users will interact with; systems that are principally embedded and have little or no user interface may omit this work product, although it may be applicable and useful even where API's need to be documented.

This work product often encloses one or more of the following documents and work products:

  • User Guides
  • Operational Guides
  • Maintenance Guides
  • Online demos
  • Online help system
  • Context-sensitive help
  • Release notes

Additional Information

The user documentation gives instructions for using the software. Provide documentation for all types of users.

Use use cases as a basis for your user's guide.

The user manual can be written by technical writers, with input from developers, or it can be written by the test team, whose members are likely to understand the user's perspective.

A reason for allocating the user manual to the test team is that it can be generated in parallel with development and evolved early as a tangible and relevant perspective of evaluation criteria. Errors and poor solutions in the user interface and use-case model can be spotted and corrected during the early iterations of the project, when changes are cheaper.

By writing the user manual, the testers will get to know the system well before they start any full-scale testing. Furthermore, it provides a necessary basis for test plans and test cases, and for construction of automated test suites.

How early in the development cycle to begin producing the user manual depends on the type of system. Systems with complex interfaces or with a lot of user interaction will require early versions of the user manual and also early prototypes of the interface. Embedded systems with little human interface will probably not require an early start on user documentation.