Using a product seems like an uphill task if there is no manual or documentation for assistance. This stands true, especially if customers are completely new to a product and do not have the slightest idea of how to use it.
If shooting questions to support staff via calls or emails is the only option available, it can be inordinately frustrating for customers.
Imagine calling or emailing every time you encounter a trivial issue with a product and having to wait endlessly to get solutions. Step in your customers’ shoes for once, and you will realize that this situation is extremely exhausting and disappointing. It can even lead to customers discontinuing your product and switching to a competitor that provides hassle-free services.
Wondering how to triumph over these troubles?
Meet online SaaS product documentation - The go-to resource where customers can solve questions instantly without approaching your support team now and then.
The result - ticket volume drops and your support staff, gets ample time to focus on pressing customer concerns that require significant attention.
Dig into this blog to find out everything about what is product documentation, the benefits it provides, and how it can be created.
Defining Product Documentation
An online product document is cloud-based and comprises information related to:
- The anatomy of your product
- Product features
- Risks associated with the product
- Step by step instructions to use the product
- The various use cases of your product
It provides a centralized access point to your customers, making it easy for them to resolve any issues they have, in a matter of minutes, without approaching your support staff for help.
Besides facilitating quick access to information, there is a lot more to the product documentation. Let’s find it out in our next section.
Benefits of Product Documentation
A meticulously-created product document is an asset for your firm. Let’s see how.
Here are a few significant benefits of creating product documentation.
- The chances of raising tickets dwindle significantly
- Regardless of how complex your product is, having online documentation makes it easy for customers to understand the product and use it efficiently
- You can create a positive perception of your brand simply by giving customers an exceptional experience.
- Keyword-rich content helps your product documentation rank higher on search engines
How to Create Product Documentation
The process of building SaaS product documentation is pretty simple. It focuses on 7 major areas:
- Target audience
- Documentation type
- Template and content authoring
- Customization and user engagement
- Context-based help
- Constant improvement
Let’s look at each one of these in detail.
1. Know Your Target Audience in & Out
Before you start creating the documentation, be clear on who your target audience is. Determine whether your documentation is for small business owners, large enterprises, or it is restricted to your internal employees.
Once you are certain about your target audience, it will become easier to define your document and fill in relevant content that’s specifically written, keeping the end-users in mind.
Conduct surveys to know your customers, their demographics, and work profiles to understand the category they belong to. This will give you a sneak-peek into your audience and its preferences.
2. Decide the Documentation Type
The next step is to determine your documentation preference.
There can be various types of product documentation such as:
Tutorials provide a quick overview of your software product and guide your end-users to its basic features and functionality to give them a head start. These are majorly for beginners.
✅ Step by step how-to guide
A how-to guide is one-step ahead of a tutorial as it covers various aspects of using your software product. It is an advanced version of the tutorial and walks end-users through every step involved in using a product or troubleshooting a problem.
Read this comprehensive guide on What is a Technical Manual to know how guides cover everything from start to end.
A document with descriptions doesn’t explain processes. Instead, it explains the entire concept of your product, the context with which it is created, the problems it solves, its structure, design, coding, and other important elements.
Your documentation can also have frequently asked questions along with their answers. You can add those questions and explain them in detail by using text, images, videos, and screenshots.
FAQs work best when you know the questions frequently generated by customers, and want your documentation to address those.
Being clear about the types of product documentation helps you give a meticulous structure to the document and keep it relevant for your customers.
3. Start Writing It
If you want to create documentation quickly and efficiently, consider using software that provides templates.
Documentation templates make the task of creating a document simple and fuss-free. You get a framework to kick-start the process smoothly. All you have to do is replace the placeholders and dummy content with useful information, depending on the type of documentation you are creating.
Add your logo, create categories, and start writing content using an online editor that you ideally get with a good content authoring tool. To expedite the process of content creation, you can even import content from existing word docs or PDF files right into your document.
4. Have a Google-Like Search Mechanism
Your SaaS product documentation should be easily searchable and provide instant results as soon as users type a question.
There is nothing better than a search system that works similar to Google. The major benefit of such a search mechanism is that customers get accurate content suggestions as soon as they start typing in the search bar.
5. Customize to Improve Engagement
Next in line is customization.
Customization is crucial to stay connected to your customers and make their experience of using your documentation interesting, and engaging.
A dull document with no proper use of fonts and themes can be a turn off for customers.
It’s not just the quality of your content that matters. It’s also how beautifully you present it, that can bring a difference in the kind of experience customers to receive.
Start by changing the fonts, colors, and themes of your document. Give it a minimalistic and professional look that appeals to readers.
Also, add multimedia wherever relevant to increase the impact of the content and keep readers engaged. Cater to all kinds of customers, right from those who like reading text to those who prefer visuals.
Image Source: CMI
6. Provide Context-Based help
You know your software better than anyone else, hence, try to give your readers the same in-depth understanding. You can accomplish this by explaining jargon and concepts on-the-spot.
Embed contextual help like tooltips, lightboxes, or popups to explain terms and concepts that your customers are alien to. Provide additional help content wherever necessary and ensure that readers get holistic guidance regarding your product’s usage.
Providing contextual help reduces the chances of readers getting stuck every time they bump into something extremely technical, product-specific terminology, and a concept that requires further explanation.
Here’s a glimpse of how contextual help looks like.
Read more: Delight Your Customers with Contextual Help
7. Keep Improving Your Documentation
Creating documentation is not a one-time task. It’s a continuous process that goes on forever. Improving your SaaS product documentation regularly is essential for two key reasons -
- It provides end-users with the most updated and relevant information
- It keeps your documentation from going obsolete
If you are using the right software, tracking the performance of your product document, and bringing improvements to it, gets simpler.
While monitoring documentation performance, keep track of metrics such as:
- Failed searches
- Poorly rated articles
- Total number of searches made
- Keywords that failed to yield results
- Broken links
- Author activities
Leverage this valuable data to get a holistic view of your online documentation, identify the knowledge gaps, and understand what’s going right and what’s not.
Watch this video to develop a better understanding of how to improve your product documentation performance.
Now that you know the in and out of creating SaaS product documentation, it’s time to look at the benefits it offers.
Ready to Build Product Documentation?
Online documentation is the life-blood of your business that can’t be seen explicitly but plays a pivotal role in meeting the ever-evolving expectations of customers for seamless support.
It helps you provide customers what they seek the most - convenience, speed, and flawless services.
Creating quality product documentation is a growth-focused initiative you can take for your company’s well-being. It not only ensures that customers get a holistic understanding of your offerings but also does the heavy lifting when it comes to solving customer questions.
The process of creating a document is pretty simple - understand your target audience, decide the documentation type, pick a suitable template, customize the document, add tooltips, and popups, and you are good!
Have any questions in mind? Ask us in the comments below, and we will be happy to help.
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