In my last post, I laid out the four (sometimes five) “classic” parts of a case study. One thing I forgot to mention: If you follow the basic structure when you write your case study—About, Challenge, Solution, Results, and (maybe) Future—it will be much easier to tell your customer story in a clear, coherent way. By starting at the beginning and ending with, well, the end, you’ll be able to walk both yourself (as you’re writing) and your audience (as they’re reading) through your case study in a logical way. No matter how creative you feel, you shouldn’t jump around in the narrative, like a case study version of Requiem for a Dream.
In fact, I’ve only encountered one situation where this tried and true case study structure has ever varied. One major technology company I wrote for insisted on putting the results before the solution for some shorter case studies. This was supposed to help readers get to the point faster, but it was hard to write and weird to read. If readers get impatient, they’ll skip ahead, read the summary section, or skim the content to find what they’re looking for.