Getting Started: Overview
Here we show you how to get started on the iFixit Technical Writing Project. You will create an account, join a team, and write a project proposal.
You are finished with this section when you:
- Sign up for an iFixit account using your school email address
- Join a student team
- Create a profile
- Learn how to use milestone pages
- Receive an iFixit-provided device (or choose your own device) that is not already documented on iFixit for your project
- Check out the Putting It Together: Building A Successful Project infographic
- Email a PDF of your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com, including all the requirements listed
- Incorporate all feedback from the iFixit technical writing team
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.
Please note: It can take the iFixit tech writers up to two business days to respond to your email, so make sure to plan accordingly.
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, then reach out to our technical writing team at techwriting[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 Dr. Jon Doe's class, in Fall 2014, assigned to section 4, group 7, your team tag will be: CPSU-DOE-F14S4G7. Your instructor will assign you a group number. You'll need to include this team tag in the subject line of your emails to iFixit, so jot it down or copy it from your profile for later use.
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.
So, why is this project so important? By teaching people how to fix their own stuff, you are helping keep devices out of landfills and end the e-waste crisis! To learn more, check out the video below, as well as the Why We Do What We Do page and iFixit.org.
Once you receive a device (or choose your own), the next step is to send us a proposal as a PDF. 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 outlines what your project will look like from start to finish. We have a sample proposal to help you get an idea of what yours should look like—just bear in mind that every instructor has slightly different specifications, so make sure to cover all the required points for 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. We understand things come up, and you might hit a snag that requires a change to your initial proposal. Not to fear—just send us an email with your changes. In the working world, professionals are adaptable—just make sure your changes aren't a surprise to the people you're working with—including us!
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. This is trickier than it sounds because some devices have multiple labels, but only one of them has the correct name. To find the correct label, look at the pictures below. 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.
- Do not create a Teardown, Disassembly, or Technique guide.
- You are not responsible 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—just email us to make sure your proposed changes are suitable.
- Who is the intended audience for your project? Audience analysis is an important part of technical writing. Take a look at iFixit.com and get familiar with the demographics of users on the site—the Answers forum is a good place to start. Remember, the overall goal of the project is to help as many people as possible repair their things so that they don’t get thrown away. In order to best help someone, you need to know who you’re talking to. Take a look at our mission. Who are we trying to help?
- Which camera will you be using? Any digital camera of 6 megapixels or greater that can mount to a tripod is acceptable. Please 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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. Keep in mind, it can take up to two business days for the iFixit tech writers to respond to your email.
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.