I've been writing reports for a long while using Microsoft Word. Now I'm getting really tired of it. I'm looking for something more "automatic" where I have to format my report only once, then whenever I need a new report I'll just quickly throw the information in (with screenshots) and it'll automatically format it for me.

So what software do you use to write usability reports, competitive analysis reports...etc?

closed as primarily opinion-based by JonW Jan 9 '17 at 20:09

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • @abdul: I've removed the tag 'usability' you added (although I can certainly understand why you used it), see this discussion on meta – Marielle Jun 27 '11 at 9:22
  • Adobe InDesign is the best alternative to the word, their master pages and import excel tables with threading opportunity is an amazing tool – SergeyFomin Apr 18 at 18:09
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Like you I used Word for all sorts of documents (heuristic analyses, UI reviews, early-stage research, etc.) and loved all the template controls and the like. However, the consistent the challenge was sharing via WebMeeting or other screencast.

In response I moved a few templates over to Keynote and/or PowerPoint with great results. You can still create templates (master slides for various pages) and achieve a similar results of 'drag and drop in' in images by using masking or the like.

In some ways the end results are better for reports because the limited space on a slide pushes you to edit your findings into tighter statements and observations - which I see a positive work process.

If your work environment values easily-presentable findings I'd consider one of those two programs.

(Bonus - there are great UX/UI prototyping kits like Keynotopia with templates, images and elements to add details to your final product.)

How about LaTex with a WYSIWYM-editor such as TexnicCenter for generating PDFs? The initial learning curve may be a bit steep, but you'll soon enjoy writing content instead of getting constantly interrupted by layout/presentation issues.

It depends what the deliverable is.

You might find that the style tools inbuilt to later versions of Word are sufficient. Are you using Word post-2003?

If not, I would second Pau's suggestion of an XML-based solution - only I would propose using Adobe Framemaker instead.

I have a web development background, so I find HTML/CSS to be the most fluent and precise medium for my documents' presentation. It also has the added bonus of being shared very easily online, which has shown itself useful many times.

Creating a stylesheet and content structure would pay off big time in the long-term (provided you were at all familiar with HTML).

  • This is a good idea. Some complain that HTML/CSS doesn't work well for paper deliverables, but then again, when was the last time you printed out a report? I know I rarely do. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Jul 4 '11 at 23:20

For automatic generation of documentation you can use XML publishing formats such as Docbook or DITA. In this way you can generate your documentation into multiple formats (PDF, CHM, RTF, etc.) and just focus on content.

I have used the Serna Free editor which provides good visual editing support (WYSIWYG) for DITA. However, there are not specific templates for UX deliverables.

  • Thanks, but I'd rather something better suited for UX deliverables. – Mashhoor Jun 27 '11 at 9:31

You are better off sticking to MS Word - there is almost no learning curve and a wide variety of tools. And also, being an programme coordinator who has to write and compile lots of reports of all kinds, it gives me some sort of satisfaction to format or "beautify" a chapter that I have just written, this process provokes further thoughts on what to write next.

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