How to Create Online Documentation : A Quick Guide

tips-for-creating-professional-looking-online-documentation-quickly

What would be your first preference when you have basic questions about a product or service you are using?

An online self-help document where you can find information in a few swipes and clicks?

Or

The time-consuming calls or emails that keep you waiting for hours or weeks to get a response? 

It goes without saying. You’d prefer the quick, convenient, and hassle-free self-help option

Now think of your customers in a similar situation.

Today’s smart and empowered customers are accustomed to the ‘One Click - Get Everything’ culture. That makes it all the more crucial for you to take help closer to your customers. 

Self-help online documentation can make this possible. It answers customer questions regarding your company’s products, services, pricing, and much more in a jiffy. 

This blog sheds light on how you can create a compelling online document. But before we dive into the details, let’s look at the benefits online documentation provides. 

Benefits of Building Online Documentation

An online self-help document provides you with innumerable benefits. Some of these are: 

  • Makes customers self-reliant as they can address issues on their own, anytime they want 
  • Reduces the support ticket volume, which is a sigh of relief for your customer support staff
  • Gives your support team ample time to focus on serious customer issues
  • Positions you as an industry expert as customers look up to your documentation every time they need information about your offerings or similar services provided by your competitors
  • Elevates your brand’s online visibility. This is true if you optimize your documentation for search engines
  • Keeps your customer delighted

Let’s now understand the ins and outs of creating a stunning online document.

Read Also: It’s About Time You Went Paperless with Online Documentation

How to Create Online Documentation For Your Customers? 

Building an online document is incredibly simple, provided you use the right software. A robust documentation tool comprises stellar features such as beautiful templates, branding and customization options, built-in reports, an online editor, workflows, and many more. 

Once you have a suitable documentation tool in place, follow these simple steps to build a compelling online document that your customers love. 

Step 1: Kick-Start the Process by Choosing the Right Template

This step is the cornerstone of building an excellent online document. Pick the right template, and everything else will fall into place. 

Documentation templates help you kickstart the documentation journey in a smooth way. They provide a set framework with placeholders and dummy content. You simply need to replace them with the content you want to include in your documentation. 

It’s simple, isn’t it?Online documentation free templates


Step 2: Have a Team of Writers, Editors, & Administrators to Manage Your Documentation

Documentation can't be created in silos. It requires the collective effort of all your team members - writers, editors, and administrators to create, review, manage, and publish the content. 

Check the bandwidth and experience level of your employees and accordingly assign the roles. 

Assign the writer's role to those employees who have first-hand knowledge about the subject. For instance, for the product section of your document, you can involve members of the product team. As they know the ins and outs of your products, they will be able to do justice to the responsibility of providing accurate information. 

Seniors can be appointed as editors. They are more experienced and have an eye for detail. That makes them perfect for this role.

Those who have a knack for management can be selected for the role of administrators. This role requires people who are good at handling multiple tasks, such as adding new writers, checking the status of articles, and overseeing the entire content generation process. 

When all these entities work together, the final output is bound to be flawless.

manage roles in online manuals


Step 3: Create a Document That Reflects Your Brand

Will you read a book if its paragraphs aren’t structured well, the cover page doesn’t look appealing, and the formatting is completely out of place? 

Even if you do, chances are you will lose interest in the initial few pages itself, no matter how valuable the content is, or how gripping the story is. 

That sums up why formatting your documentation and making it engaging is critical. 

Start by adding your logo and brand name. Use fonts, colors, and themes that resonate with your brand. Ensure that the formatting is consistent across all pages

You don’t want one page to shine like a diamond and a dull and drab look for the other one. That will confuse readers, and they might misunderstand the shining sections as more important than those that don’t look that appealing.

write and edit with ProProfs Editor

Watch this video to gain a better understanding of how to design your documentation.

Step 4: Add Images & Videos 

A text-heavy document can be difficult to read and understand. Some of your customers might be able to comprehend concepts easier if they are explained using videos and screenshots. For some, a text-only article also works. Then, there are customers who prefer both - quality content supported by relevant visuals. 

So, how should you go about it? 

The best way is to create a document that is a rich mixture of accurate content and relevant images and videos. Visuals are meant to complement the written content, engage customers, and provide them an enriching experience. 

Read more: Wow Your Audience With Engaging Knowledge Base Videos

Here’s an example of how Mimosa uses visuals in its documentation. As you scroll further, you will see images and videos generously added to the document at all the right places.

Mimosa online documentation


Step 5: Add Feedback & Survey Forms 

How do you understand whether customers are able to find what they are looking for in your online documentation? 

It can be done in two simple ways. 

First, you can ask for customer feedback at the end of each article. Add a standard question - “Was this information helpful,” with Yes or No as the answer options, across all pages. 

If No is selected as the answer, a comment box pops-up where customers can submit feedback. Look at the example below to understand how it works. 

highq-feedback-system

Next, you can also add survey forms to your documentation. You can add Net Promoter Score Surveys, sidebar forms, and pop-up surveys at specific spots in your online document. It’s an excellent way to measure customer satisfaction and get instant feedback on how helpful your documentation is. 

Here’s how it looks.Connect documentation structure

Read Also: What Is a Good Net Promoter Score

Watch this video to understand the process of adding feedback and survey forms to your documentation.

Step 6: Measure & Improve Your Document’s Performance

Is creating an online document enough? 

What if customers don’t find the required information? What if your document grows stale with time and searches keywords don’t deliver accurate results? 

There can be scores of challenges. Therefore, it’s essential to keep measuring and improving your document’s performance. 

Your documentation software should provide you with meaningful insights into knowledge gaps, failed searches, broken links, poorly rated articles, author activities, and much more. The best part is you get this information in the form of graphs or charts to make the task of document analysis easy for you.

online documentation reports

Decode this data and try to understand the challenging areas in your documentation. Tag relevant keywords in articles that aren’t showing up in search results despite having valuable information. Create new articles on the topics customers are searching for. 

Repeat this process regularly to ensure that your documentation stays relevant for customers. 

Here’s a short video that explains how you can analyze the data and use it to improve your documentation.

A Few More Nuggets of Advice for Creating a Flawless Online Document

Following the above-given steps will help you produce a brilliant piece. As far as the writing and structuring part is concerned, here’s what you should do: 

  • Keep your article headings short and succinct. 
  • Write short paragraphs. Keep the length to a maximum of 4 to 5 lines. This will make it easier for customers to scan and understand the concepts. 
  • Create categories and subcategories for each topic to give your document a good structure. 
  • Don’t beat around the bush while writing articles. Be as specific as you can. 
  • Keep the tone friendly to connect with customers in a better way. 
  • Use bullets whenever explaining a process. It’s a great way to keep customers engaged. 
  • Highlight key sentences in the articles where you want to draw readers’ attention. 

Over to You

Creating a stellar self-help document for your customers is not rocket science. The process involves a few simple steps. Once you get them right, your online documentation will be up and running. 

Start by selecting the right template. Have a strong team of editors, writers, and administrators, who can manage the content creation process from start to end. Add some hues and spark to your document. Use images, videos, and screenshots to make the articles engaging for your readers. 

Lastly, keep adding fresh content and improving the existing articles. That will turn your online documentation into an evergreen piece. 

Create stunning online documentation and solve customer issues in a flash with ProProfs Knowledge Base.

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About the author

Jasneet has more than three years of experience in knowledge management and customer support verticals. She is passionate about online knowledge management and has a deep understanding of how organizations can leverage knowledge management for maximum success. In her free time, she enjoys sketching and reading.

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