Milestone 1: Overview

In Milestone 1, you will create a troubleshooting page for your device. A troubleshooting page helps your readers diagnose what is wrong with their device and points them to the correct guide.

Checklist

You are finished with this milestone when your troubleshooting page:

  • Has the correct title
    • Excludes extra descriptive words, such as "laptop," "printer," or "camera"
    • Includes the word "Troubleshooting" in the page title
    • Uses proper spelling, punctuation, and the right device name
  • Is properly formatted
    • Headings are user-experienced symptoms
    • Subheadings are possible causes of those symptoms
    • Solutions are explained in short paragraphs
  • Explains the symptoms of each issue in detail so that a user will know if they are having the same problem
  • Discusses all of the possible causes of each issue in depth
  • Outlines the necessary steps a user must take to return their device to working condition
  • Includes a table of contents
  • Includes placeholder links to applicable guides (actual guide links are added after completing Milestone 3)
  • Incorporates all feedback from the iFixit technical writing team

Email Us When...

...your troubleshooting page is complete. We’ll be happy to look it over and offer feedback!

Overview

A troubleshooting page helps users diagnose a damaged device. Your troubleshooting wiki should list common symptoms of a malfunctioning device and describe possible causes and solutions, listed in order of probability.

Any number of things may be wrong, thus complicating problem diagnosis. The Lenovo Essential G560 troubleshooting page, for example, lists several symptoms, including not powering on, sticky keys, and video distortion. Often, several potential causes exist for any particular symptom.

It is important that your troubleshooting information be as accurate as possible. Writing a good troubleshooting page requires a substantial amount of research—scouring forums, product manuals, and enthusiast sites. It should comprise the most common symptoms people encounter with this device and what solutions have worked for people in the past. It is very important that a troubleshooting page be robust and descriptive.

Example Pages

The following examples from past projects give a good idea of what your completed troubleshooting page should look like.

 

Research Strategies

Thorough research is a crucial step in understanding what issues users may experience with their device. Remember, you’re helping real people keep as much stuff out of landfills as possible! 

Here are some research strategies for an example device (Canon PowerShot SD900):

  • Google search "Canon EOS Rebel T5i won't turn on,” "problems,” "repair,” etc. If you find repair-oriented or parts sites, the parts that they sell will clue you in to what people need to replace.
  • Use enthusiast sites like this one—they will pop up in searches. Browse through them to get a feel for common problems.
  • Feel free to research similar devices on iFixit.com for reference.
  • Beware of Fixya. Fixya has some information, but confusingly mixes in other information from completely unrelated devices. Use information from this site with caution.
  • Some devices have little to no repair information about them (either because of manufacturer frugality, or simply because no one has bothered to try and fix that device yet). Don't let this hinder you! Rather, use common sense and think of some problems that could possibly arise, i.e. not turning on, sticking keys, or black screens. You can also research problems with other, similar devices; odds are, some of them will apply to your device as well.



Creating Your Troubleshooting Page

Page Layout

Your troubleshooting information will appear on a wiki page with specific formatting guidelines.

The basic layout of each troubleshooting topic should resemble the following format:

  • Heading phrased as a user-observed symptom
  • Description of the symptom in italicized text
  • Subheading phrased as a possible underlying cause
  • Solution of how to complete the repair

 

When formatted correctly on your wiki page, it will look like this:

Creation

When creating your troubleshooting page, it's best if only one team member edits the page at a time. If more than one person attempts to make changes simultaneously, they may unknowingly overwrite each other's work.

To create a troubleshooting page:

  • Click here to start a new page.
  • Select "Wiki" from the list of options.
  • Enter "[Your Device Name] Troubleshooting" into the title field.
    • Do NOT include the device type or generic terms such as “laptop,” “cell phone,” etc.
    • If your device was provided by iFixit, copy the name directly from the white iFixit label on the device.
    • For all other devices, write the name exactly as it appears on the manufacturer's website or in the device's official documentation. If your device is known by more than one official name, stick with the most common one (Google Trends can be helpful here). If you're not sure, drop us an email at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com!
    • Be sure to use correct spelling, capitalization, and spacing when creating your troubleshooting page. For instance, the 's' in Cyber-shot is not capitalized, while the 's' in PowerShot is.

Formatting

Below is a snippet of the Lenovo Essential G560 troubleshooting page source code. This should give you an idea of how it's formatted. You can copy/paste the code into a new troubleshooting page, and then just change the text as you see fit.

== Audio Distortion ==

''You have trouble listening to sounds on your computer.''

=== Loose Headphone Jack ===

Test audio through the computer speakers, then test it using headphones. If the audio is only distorted while listening via headphones, the audio jack or the headphones themselves may be faulty. Audio that cuts in and out is often a sign of a loose audio jack, so make sure the audio jack is fully inserted in the computer.

=== Faulty Driver ===

If the audio sound is distorted when listening through the laptop’s speakers, the audio driver may be corrupt. Search for [http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/landing.page?qpq=g560#|Lenovo G560]. Click “Lenovo G560 Notebook,” then click “Drivers & Software.” Click the “Audio” tab and select and download the appropriate driver. Go to Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Sound Controllers. Click on your sound card and click “Update driver.” Select your updated driver, then restart the computer.

== Failure to Read CD's and DVD's ==

''Your Lenovo G560 will not read any CD's or DVD's.''

=== Broken/Defective Optical Drive ===

If your Lenovo G560 optical drive does not open or does not read CD's or DVD's, the optical drive may be broken and [guide|12751|needs to be replaced].

(Enclosing text in double equals signs creates a heading, and triple equals signs creates a subheading. To italicize text, add two single apostrophes around it ( ' ' TEXT ' ' ). To bold text, add three single apostrophes.)

Copying the above and just changing the text will help ensure that your formatting comes out perfectly, but you can also use the built-in Word-style controls to make formatting changes:

 

 

The rest of your troubleshooting page should follow the same format for headings and subheadings. (While editing your page, you’ll also find a yellow "Help" icon that links to our wiki formatting page, which explains all the formatting options available to you.)

When you're finished, be sure to check the box labeled "Show table of contents?" at the top of the Edit page. This automatically creates a linked table of contents on the left side of your page using the headings and subheadings you've just defined.

Princess Leia: I hope you know what you're doing.
Han Solo: Yeah, me too.

Do you know what you’re doing?

Better review those technical readouts of the battle station—or at least the guidelines in the milestone—before you find your grade plummeting into the Great Pit of Carkoon to be eaten by a sarlacc. Email us at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com when you have a finalized draft of your troubleshooting page, and we’ll let you know when you’re ready to make a run on the Death Star, or, Milestone 2.

Hold It!
LET'S REVIEW THE CHECKLIST...

*Asterisk indicates required field.
Is the troubleshooting page title capitalized and punctuated correctly with no extra descriptive words, such as “laptop,” “printer,” or “camera?” *
Is the word “Troubleshooting” included in the page title? *
Is the troubleshooting page formatted so that headings are user-experienced symptoms, subheadings are possible causes of those symptoms, and the solutions are explained in short paragraphs? *
Are all of the above sorted in a table of contents on the left side of the page? *
Are the symptoms of each issue explained so that a user will know if they are having the same problem? *
Are all the possible causes to each issue discussed and explained in depth? *
Does the page outline the necessary steps a user must take to return their device to working condition? *
Are placeholder links to relevant guides provided? (Circle back and replace these with the correct guide links upon completion of Milestone 3.) *