The primary focus of developers is usually on creating a good quality product, whereas, product documentation is often an afterthought.
Although it might not have been at the top of your list, effective product documentation helps you build long-lasting relationships with your customers and reduces churn rate.
A well-structured product documentation connects the product team with customers. It eases the workload of your customer support team, promotes customer self-help, and helps in business expansion.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few research-backed tactics for organizing, planning, creating, and delivering product documentation for your users to easily navigate through your product.
The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Product Documentation
Product documentation includes technical information regarding any specific product. It contains user guides and system documentation for end users.
It’s a great way to provide details about a product’s features, how it functions, and information on the most recent version releases.
It also includes tutorials, code documentation, and how-to manuals. Most frequently, knowledge bases serve as product documentation for users.
Product documents assist businesses with data and information centralization and aggregation. It’s a fantastic way to gather, manage, and organize product information.
On the other hand, it offers quick customer service. Instead of waiting around for customer service, the majority of customers today prefer to get answers to their questions online. Online product documentation enables self-service for customers. And with this, they can find answers more quickly. At the same time, it lessens the workload of customer care executives.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when creating product documentation. Let’s dive into those.
How to Structure Your Product Documentation
Product documentation helps users use the product and troubleshoot potential issues. Every form of product needs documentation, and here are a few tips to keep in mind while structuring your product documentation.
1. Categorize the Information
Information is easier to understand when categorized. Determine the type of information that the documentation will represent before you consider a template or structure. Product documentation is often written for end users and requires careful user direction rather than developer input. Also, categorization helps in better structuring of the content and makes it more readable which improves the user experience.
2. Align It With Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience is crucial when developing documentation. For various user types, you could decide to make various documentations. For instance, a user’s manual for end users would include routine operations, but a manual for administrators would cover configuration instructions or specialized one-time tasks. Use a relevant tone and make sure it’s written with user comprehension in mind.
3. Provide an Entry Point
A well-designed landing page is a smart way to create an entry point for your users to access data easily. Here are the key components for your documentation.
4. Create a Documentation Plan
Creating a plan organizes everything and helps in formatting. To format the document properly and ensure uniformity, use templates and style manuals. Here are some aspects to guide the documentation structure.
- Actionable Insights
- Template and Style Guides
- Tool for Documentation
5. Simplify the Navigation Structure
All of the information on a company’s product, including all of its features and information on how it functions is contained in the product documentation. However, the navigation structure determines how people will interact with the documentation and how your information will be presented. A logical navigation structure helps users to navigate the information quickly. Depending on the user type – contributor, premium, or basic – navigation can be altered.
6. Identify Static and Dynamic Content
needs to be updated and maintained frequently. Therefore, you must distinguish between static and dynamic content. When you need to change the content in the future, having too much static content can be a problem. While static content often refers to original, standard concepts that remain constant across new versions of the product, dynamic documents change with the product.
7. Keep Versioning Handy and Simple
In order to manage the content in accordance with a product’s new release, it is necessary to identify the version of the documentation. Versioning helps users access the documentation based on the version of the product they are using.
8. Make It Interesting
When trying to go through reams of information, a flat information layout with just text can be more invasive and difficult to interpret. Use logical, easily digestible information presented with carefully chosen rich media, as appropriate to the topic at hand, to keep the reader’s interest instead of letting it wane with long, tedious text. You can use code, callouts for notes, information, tips, and alarms, or seamlessly incorporate photos, videos, links, and more.
9. Keep It Simple
The documentation should be concise and free of unnecessary details. Make sure your documentation conveys the intended message clearly and is readable enough. According to research, a product is only used for 20% of its functionality(i). Keep these details in mind while you write the documentation. Do not give all the details you have about a product because documentation should assist readers, instead of overloading them with endless details. Write only what your readers will find useful.
For every business, creating product documentation is essential since it serves as a bridge between the product team and customers. It is a way to provide relevant details about a certain product in addition to things like release notes, instructions, and other content. In addition to promoting customer self-help, a well-documented product can lighten the pressure on the customer support staff and aid in business expansion.
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