Documentation. It’s not fun. It’s not pretty. And most definitely not easy.
Writing documentation for online projects is seldom enjoyable. You just want to move forward and build the darn thing. And by the time you’re done, you don’t want to write documentation. You want to build the next thing. Much of the time, documentation bears little resemblance to the final result. And even if it does, it is seldom updated.
That’s a problem. Because if you’re not around, it’s all your successor has. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you. But it matters for the good of the project.
This point was driven home while I was future planning. I have a daughter with special needs, and I’ve been using a tool to help with our unique situation. The product has you document your child’s full medical history, and current and future needs. The final product is a massive document that you are supposed to print and leave in a safe place, for when the unexpected happens. It contains a log of every doctor’s visit, every medication she’s ever ingested, as well as the color bowl she prefers to have at breakfast (get that wrong at your own peril).
It is literally documentation for my child. And I hate it. It’s time consuming to create. It’s depressing. It feels wasteful. I am tempted to leave questions blank. I don’t remember the date of her first hearing test. Who cares? But these questions are important. I’m not making this documentation so I can take better care of her. I’m making it, so when the worst happens, anyone can take care of her. The end goal is to make sure my daughter, no matter what, is happy and taken care of.
The last thing most of us are worried about is what happens to our website should we get hit by a bus. But we can and should be proud of a project that works and looks good, even after we’ve let it go. A little documentation can go a long way for protecting the future.