How to create a Terms and Statements Inventory and streamline your UX process

An essential guide for efficient UX and product designers on why, when and how to create and manage a Terms and Statements Inventory document.

A sketch representing the connection between terms and statements

Why did this happen?

How can experienced professionals debate, for example, the meaning of layout? Well, they actually can and will. After asking some of my peers about it, I found out that this is a pretty common issue that seems terribly underestimated.

For a designer, the mental representation of “layout” might be a visual schematic plan of graphic elements but for a developer that same representation could be a set of data arranged according to an algorithm.

To deal with this, I go through an extra step during my design process: the Terms and Statements Inventory. And it works.

Definition

The Terms and Statements Inventory (TSI) is a complete list of all the definitions for the terms used within the product and all the statements that describe the connections between those terms.

There are 3 main benefits for creating a TSI

  • You set a common language within the team so no more time and work is wasted on miscommunication between members
  • It’s easier to create and understand design specs using terms and statements you all agreed on
  • New team members are easily introduced to an ongoing product, saving a lot of onboarding time

When do you build it?

The Terms and Statements Inventory is useful every time you start designing a new feature or an entire new product from scratch.

The terms and statements inventory is developed throughout the product’s life

How do you build it?

What I do first is make a list of all the main modules of the product. For example, if you’re designing a booking mobile app, some of your modules might be the user profile, the destinations or the bookings list.

While designing a product or a feature, we usually visualise the idea in our minds and start making abstract connections, trying to identify hidden relations between its components.

Statements are build by describing those relations you identified for your product. They are the written version of the designer’s thoughts.

How does it look?

The Terms and Statements Inventory is a document. As long as it contains the terms and statements of your product and is easily accessible for all your team members, it can look in any way you want to: Google Docs document, Google Sheets document, Axure link, Sketch file, Photoshop file, Word document, Excel document etc.

Example

At the beginning of this article I was mentioning a product meeting which turned into a debate about terminology. Following that, I went on and built my first official Terms and Statements Inventory, discussed it with my teammates, iterated it a few times and, finally, agreed on a final version.

Examples of terms

Examples of statements

Conclusion

Designing a great product is not only about finding the perfect idea and the best implementation but also about conveying them to the members of your team. As a UX or product designer, you need to get involved in improving the experience of your team work because that is going to be reflected in the experience of your product.

You’re not going to build the product alone so the way you describe and argue your design decisions is as important as the design itself.

The Terms and Statements Inventory helps you minimise noise and focus on what matters. It sets a common language within the team and saves time by eliminating misunderstandings.

Thanks for reading!

Please click the button if you found this article interesting, so others can find it too. If you want to keep in touch, follow me on Twitter and Medium or visit me at davidteodorescu.com

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Co-founder & Design Lead @Hyperhuman writing about product design and psychology. http://davidteodorescu.com

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