In this article, I’m going to tell you about Document Development Life Cycle, what it is and what the phases are. So, keep reading to learn more!

Document Development Life Cycle

Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) is the practice of the document development that involves a systematic process that continues in cyclic order. This practice works well for organizing the smooth working process and creating user-friendly documentation.

Steps of Document Development Life Cycle

Here are the steps of DDLC:

  1. Requirement Analysis
  2. Designing Phase
  3. Developing the content
  4. Editing / Proofreading
  5. Publishing
  6. Maintenance

Let’s take look at each step in detail.

In this stage, technical writers should prepare the content for future documentation, so they collect specific information about the product from product requisite, SME, online help or seniors, and clients.

Before writing the document, they also need to explore the target audience to make future documentation more user-oriented. Usually, technical writers assemble such information from Subject Matter Expert (SME) and software developers. This collaboration saves the writer’s time to understand the product.

In this designing stage, tech writers design the document or content by making use of proper layout, style, and format. MS Word is not that tool where you can experiment that’s why professional writers use various authoring tools such as ClickHelp, RoboHelp, Adobe Frame Maker, Madcap Flare, and so on.

Moreover, tech writers not only create text content but also add visual content like screenshots, photos, videos, and so on. You can learn more about the tools that tech writers need to know here: Top 11 Technical Writing Tools.

Once the product is analyzed and it’s run, tech writers start to write content.

When the content is ready, the editing phase comes next. Here, reviewers or the content experts will test and check the complete documentation. Proofreading is also a part of this step — content experts/reviewers check the entire draft to remove bugs and mistakes. Then technical writers improve the technical part, figures, grammar mistakes, and format of the document.

In this stage, tech writers bring out the document — it can be printed and published online. For publishing documentation, tech writers use online documentation tools. For example, I use ClickHelp. When you use this tool, you get an online documentation portal where you can write your documentation and publish it instantly there. Moreover, you can use different visibility modes like private and restricted, if your documentation is internal.

If there is an update required to the document after the initial release, technical writers add updates, alter or modify the documentation. If a help authoring tool supports the agile tech writing process, you can publish only those topics that need updates.


As you can see, Document Development Life Cycle has clear steps that tech writers can follow easily, so teamwork becomes effective. Moreover, it all depends on the tool you use. If your team uses MS Word, this model can work not so well. I described the popular help authoring tools here to help you choose the right tool: Software Tools for Technical Writing.



Kesi Parker
Job position: Freelance Technical Writer. I use ClickHelp for technical writing.
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