Getting Started: Overview
Here we take you through getting started on the iFixit Technical Writing Project. You will create an account, join a team, and write a project proposal.
When you finish this section you should have completed the following:
- Signed up for an iFixit account using your school email address
- Joined a student team
- Made a profile
- Learned how to use milestone pages
- Chosen a device that is not already documented on iFixit for your project
- Checked out the Putting It Together: Building A Successful Project infographic
- Emailed a PDF of your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com
- Your proposal should have all the requirements listed
- Your proposal should include the correct header
Email Us When...
...you have a proposal. You must email us with a proposal, even if it is informal. Proposals allow us to give you the necessary privileges to work on the site without problems.
If you have any questions or concerns about your involvement in the project, be sure to check out the student FAQ page, talk to your instructor, or reach out to our program director at education[at]ifixit[dot]com.
Join a Team
- Even if you are working alone, you need to be on a team. Being on a team, even a team by yourself, gives you student privileges that allow you to complete your work.
- Use your name and school email when signing up for the account.
- Make sure to select the appropriate information from the drop-down menus. If you add yourself to the wrong team, just click "Leave my team" and try again.
- Team tags follow this format: School-ProfessorLastName-T#S#G#. For example, if you are attending Cal Poly in Fall 2014, in section 4 of Dr. Jon Doe's class, assigned to group 7, your team tag will be: CPSU-DOE-F14S4G7.
2. Go to your profile if you'd like to add an avatar or view your team.
- You can click on your name in the top right corner of the homepage to view your profile. To view your profile from other pages on iFixit, click on your name in the top right corner of the site and select “My Profile” from the dropdown menu. On your profile page you'll see all the guides you've created.
- On the same page, click the team tag below your avatar to view a list of your team members and your team's activity.
- You’ll find a link to the Student Roadmap page below your team tag, so you can easily access the page from your profile.
Choosing a Device
For this project, we want you to choose a device that you’re excited about working on. It doesn’t have to be a smartphone or laptop! It can be anything from a bike, to a toy, or even a common household appliance. It can even be broken. (You’ll be writing guides to show someone with a broken device how to replace faulty parts, so it’s fine if your device is broken.)
No matter what you choose, you'll be helping the world end the e-waste crisis and keep devices out of landfills. We can't do this without your help!
The important thing is to find a device that is NOT already well-documented on iFixit. (A simple search should tell you whether there are already guides for your device on the site.) Your device should also be complex enough that you can write the required number of guides. Each guide will cover replacing one component.
Some devices are generally off-limits for safety reasons—things like cars and trucks, microwaves, and old CRT televisions. Check your device against the Project Safety page if you're not sure.
If you have any questions about choosing a device, feel free to shoot us an email.
Once you’ve chosen a device, the next step is to send us a proposal as a PDF. The proposal should describe what you’ll be working on for the four milestones of this project. The proposal doesn’t need to be long, but we’ll use it to help start your project off in the right direction.
A proposal is required for the project. Proposals allow us to give you the necessary privileges to work on the site without problems. Your proposal is also an opportunity to demonstrate your professional writing skills. You can find a sample proposal here, but talk to your instructor for details specific to your class. You are more than welcome to use the sample proposal as a reference, but the content must be written in your own words. Also, make sure to include a brief message in the email's body to provide context for your proposal.
Important things to include in your proposal:
- What device will you be working on? It's important to get the device name exactly correct, which can be tricky since some devices have crazy names like the SuperSonic Matrix Mid SC-999. (Try saying that five times fast!) If your device was provided by iFixit, use the full name listed on the white iFixit label affixed to the device. If you've decided to use your own device, take the time to research the full device name. Your best bet will be to search the manufacturer's product page. If you're still unsure of your device's correct name, ask us!
- How much repair information is already on the internet about your device? Are there disassembly instructions available? If so, how good are they and how are yours going to be better?
- What are your proposed page titles? When you create your troubleshooting page and device page on the iFixit site, you'll be prompted to create page titles. It is important for page titles to be written correctly the first time around so that an accurate URL is created. We try to keep page titles consistent across the site, so the titles for your pages should follow this format:
- Troubleshooting Page: [Device Name] Troubleshooting
- Example: Lenovo Essential G560 Troubleshooting
- Device Page: [Device Name]
- Example: Lenovo Essential G560
- Please note: The word "Repair" will auto-populate on the device page title after you've created the page.
- Troubleshooting Page: [Device Name] Troubleshooting
- What specific topics will you address on your troubleshooting page? Choose at least 5 of the most common symptoms that users may notice with their malfunctioning device. Be sure all topics are phrased as user-observed symptoms. Examples might include topics like "Device Won't Power On," "Audio Is Distorted," "Screen Is Unresponsive," etc. When phrasing your topics, think about what a user may see, hear, or experience with each symptom. This helps readers quickly find the section that corresponds to their issue, without having to already know the underlying cause.
- What specific guides will you write for your device? Each guide should show how to replace a specific component of your device (battery, display, motherboard, etc.). To help keep the greatest possible number of devices out of landfills, choose the components that are most likely to fail, break, or require an upgrade.
- You are not responsible for creating a "teardown" or general disassembly guide, or for repairing a broken device or broken components.
- Most student groups write guides for 5-7 components, but the number varies. Check with your instructor for the required number.
- If you’re not sure which guides to write, check out the Student FAQ for some ideas. Later, you may run into new parts to write guides for, or discover that a guide you had planned to do isn't possible, and that’s okay—your proposal is just meant to be a starting point.
- Which camera will you be using? Any digital camera of 6 megapixels or greater that can mount to a tripod is acceptable. (Note: this rules out most smartphones.)
Please include a header at the top of your proposal in this format:
- Device: Samsung Galaxy S5
- Team tag: CPSU-DOE-F14S4G7
- Camera: Nancy's 16.1 MP Canon PowerShot SX700
- Group email addresses: email@example.com, etc. (These must be the same email addresses that you and your team members used to create your iFixit accounts.)
Don't forget: include your team tag in the subject line of your email, CC your teammates and instructor, and include a brief message in the email's body to provide context for your proposal.
Everything is not awesome!
You’ll get stuck in your project and have to redo your proposal if you haven’t closely followed the instructions. Take a moment to review the Getting Started page and make sure that you’ve met all of the requirements. Everything is cool when you’ve reviewed things as a team. Email us at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com when you’ve got your proposal ready to go. We’ll stop playing with our LEGOs and let you know what you need to do to move on to Milestone 1.