Who doesn’t want to create a great product documentation? By the word great, we mean easy to understand and of course, solution-giving documentation, which doesn’t require a lot of hassle to find.
Documentation is a set of instructions that help others learn about software features, as well as how to use the product when integrated with other tools and services. It is a concise, well-organized summary of a product or company’s features and functionalities. This can be a set of few pages of text that explain the features and functionalities of an app, service, product, or product feature. We will walk you through the features and behaviors of documentation. At the end of this article, you will be able to create a great product documentation.
This article will explain the process of creating good product documentation, how to organize it, and the user end expectations.
In this article, we will stick to software documentation, because, it is the most commonly used and necessitates creating online documentation.
What do users expect from a great product documentation?
Users are going through your documentation for one major reason, they are already using your product, and they are looking for answers. Some different scenarios might also be the case, sometimes people skim through the documentation to better understand how the features are actually working in the product. Well, that depends on the personality of the visitors and of course, the type of product you have.
However, we will stick to the “Looking for answers” feature, and continue from now on.
- Users want solutions to a specific problem they are facing.
- They want an overview of the product or some specific feature.
- They want to fix/ troubleshoot problems on their own, they need some hints.
These are the 3 major tendencies of the users we have seen so far. Depending on which experience you want to provide for the users, your documentation will be laid out differently. Some descriptions should a very little, just for a skim through it, some articles will be very in-depth and might even be pages long.
Steps to follow when creating a documentation
From our years of experience, here are the steps we have summarised for ourselves, which of course, will be useful for you too.
1. Focus on your audience
If you have a tool that is targeted at regular users, and you use development terms to explain different aspects of your users, they will be nothing but frustrated from this document.
Depending on the age, experience level, and taste of users, your document needs to have a different structure, layout, attachments, links, and simplicity. If you can keep in mind, you have already solved half their problem. This will convey a clear message to everyone. This part is so vital, we can say – this is what makes a great product documentation great.
2. Keep as straightforward as possible
Your product might be feature-rich, it is better not to include too much information in any article unless it is extremely necessary or it is related content. Users are here for finding their specific solutions. If you want them to explore something else, you can link it or connect those articles together, in EazyDocs, we do it with tags, those articles show up as related articles at the bottom of the post.
3. Include media attachments ( Images / Video preferred )
Images and videos can be an effective way to communicate with users about your product. In fact, a recent survey by Google shows that images are the number one content type consumers want to see on your site.
A piece of visual information may be even equivalent to hundreds of lines. Infographic images are the best way to communicate with users. For developers – a cheatsheet is the number one way to convey your message.
4. Maintain proper chronology of information
The order of information is important. It is your chance to highlight the main elements of what you want to say in the article. The chronology or order of information gives the users a proper flow of operation.
For example – you can’t edit an article even before it is created. That is why, tell the users how to write the article first, later you can tell them how to edit, customize or delete that document.
Your particular case might be far more difficult than this one, but product users must not get lost in the articles.
5. Use proper Headings and add a Table of Contents
Your articles should be easy to read and follow, so using heading tags will make your content easier to scan. Headings can also indicate the topic of your article, making it more accessible for readers.
In EazyDocs, a table of content is generated automatically on the right-hand side, following the structure of the heading tags.
For instance – heading 2 is considered as the main paragraph section title, and heading 3 under heading 2 is considered subheadings. These subheadings are nested inside the parent heading 2 in the table of contents.
6. Updating and improving documents
Don’t leave your documents in the past! Always update and improve your documents so that you don’t end up with outdated content. The key to the changes required to make will come from the users’ end. They will leave feedback, comments, votes, or anything to let you know, what you need to update on your side.
How to get started with documentation in WordPress?
What are you waiting for? Create great documentation today. We have a high-quality WordPress plugin – EazyDocs