Effective documentation is crucial for the success of any business selling products or services to ensure that users can use it efficiently. In addition, comprehensive documentation can help customers understand the value you offer and, in some cases, resolve specific issues they might be experiencing at the time regarding your products and/or services.
On the other hand, poorly-written and confusing documentation can leave users feeling lost and frustrated. So since proper documentation is of utmost importance and can help you increase conversions and boost customer loyalty, we’ve compiled a list of tips to guide you through this entire process.
Table of Contents
Determine Your Audience and How You Will Distribute the Documentation
The first step to writing good documentation is understanding your audience. Who is your target audience for this documentation? What are their needs and expectations?
Understanding your audience will help you choose the right tone, language, and level of detail in your documentation. For example, if your product or service is targeted at beginners, use clear and simple language that is easy to understand, and include step-by-step instructions.
Going forward, you must also pinpoint how the readers will access the documentation. Having the most perfectly written documentation means nothing if customers don’t have the means to find pertinent data.
One of the best ways to distribute it is via software-based documentation tools such as a knowledge base. A knowledge base provides a centralized location for all documentation materials. This makes it easier to organize, manage, and retrieve information quickly.
Define the Scope
The scope of your documentation defines what should and should not be included. Be clear on what the user needs to know to use your product or service effectively. Including too much information may confuse the reader while providing more information can make the documentation useful.
Some examples of what should be included:
- Purpose of the product/service
- How to get started
- Step-by-step instructions on how to use the product/service
- Frequently asked questions
- Troubleshooting tips
On the other hand, you should not include marketing materials, confusing technical jargon, and irrelevant Information regarding past versions of your product or service.
Examples are an essential and effective way of clarifying complex ideas, giving context to concepts, and reducing the room for ambiguity. They provide a way for users to understand how to put or use the information provided in the documentation in real-world scenarios. It can also add life and interest to the content.
To ensure your examples are effective, use relevant and real scenarios, and if possible, provide step-by-step visual guides.
Ensuring documentation is accessible to people with disabilities is crucial to making it inclusive and useful. Proper formatting and the use of assistive technologies can make documents more accessible to people with various disabilities, including visual or hearing impairments.
Examples of best practices for making documents accessible include using formattings such as headings and lists for improved readability, using alt text on images and multimedia, providing captions and transcripts for multimedia, and ensuring the use of accessible file formats.
If you want to improve constantly, soliciting user feedback is the most effective way. End-users can provide valuable insights into the documentation’s effectiveness and usability. In addition, user feedback can help identify areas that need improvement and provide insights into how users interact with the material.
This information can then be used to further update and improve the documentation.
Don’t Forget About Updates
Once you have compiled the documentation, you should be aware that all content needs to be updated frequently to ensure that it remains relevant and accurate. Information can become outdated or irrelevant over time, so reviewing the material regularly and making updates is essential.
Schedule regular reviews, assign a point person to oversee updates, keep track of changes to the product or service, and communicate changes in the documentation to users.
Effective documentation is crucial for any business offering products or services. Outstanding documentation empowers users to understand and utilize your offerings optimally, enhancing customer satisfaction and improving sales conversion.
Conversely, inadequate documentation can make users feel overwhelmed and lost. To create a useful and accessible documents, keep your audience in mind, define the scope, use examples, guarantee accessibility, update regularly, and solicit helpful feedback.
And most importantly, don’t forget to provide your customers with easy access to information. As things stand, companies’ websites are now the preferred resource for customers to resolve their queries, with up to 70% of people opting for the website over phone or email support, so a knowledge base will help you do wonders and reach new heights.