What is Product Documentation & How to Create One Or How to Create Your Product Documentation [Step-by-Step Process]
Did you know that 73.3% of people rate documentation more helpful than videos, packaging, or salespeople when looking for information on products they are considering for purchase?
That’s not all. Customers also find product documentation helpful when they want to understand how a product works. So, in a nutshell, you can’t avoid creating product documentation for your business plan.
It solves way too many customer service queries than anticipated. This is one of the reasons why raising a product documentation requirement is necessary for your business to grow.
To help you build product documentation, we’ve created a step-by-step guide for you below. But first, let’s understand what product documentation means.
What is Product Documentation?
Product documentation is a user manual that helps customers learn about a certain product and its functions. Customers refer to product documentation when:
- They are considering a product
- They are looking for an instant solution
- They are trying to install the product
- They want to configure a product
With so many use cases, product documentation covers a lot of information, making it easier for customers to arrive or make a certain decision.
Overall, product documentation can enable your business to help users find answers to all their product-related questions.
How to Build a Complete Product Documentation
After getting a good understanding of what product documentation is, it is time you start building yours from scratch. Also, with product documentation, it is important to have a standard operating procedure in a document containing step-by-step procedures for execution. To help you get started, we’ve listed seven crucial steps one must never give up if planning to create complete product documentation for their business. Let’s dive in!
1. Target Your Audience With a Specific Purpose
For starters, answer this:
“Who will be the end user of the product documentation?”
Is it a new prospect you wish to target using the documentation, existing customers, or probably both? The faster you answer this question, the easier it will get you to decide the direction of your product documentation. In addition, this question will help you decide the tone that will help you target the audience better.
Moreover, you can also decide whether you would like to add crucial aspects such as images, case studies, and more to explain the product to the readers. That’s because if it is a prospect that you wish to target, you wouldn’t like to give away all the information around the product and lose the chance to encourage them to sign up or even ask for a demo.
Whereas in the case of existing customers, you would like them to know every detail of your product. This will also help you reduce the frequently asked questions they may raise with the support team and increase their satisfaction.
2. Identify Your Primary Categories
Once you decide who you plan to target using the product documentation, it is time to identify the categories you’d like to cover. Just like your audience, categories hold importance while building product documentation. Here are a few benefits that show how pivotal they are to the process.
- Categories help customers find answers around the product faster. They won’t have to scroll through all the articles to identify which one of them answers their question right away. Instead, all they have to do is scroll through the right category and find the article. This saves them time and effort.
- Your information becomes more readable. When you divide information categories and sub-categories, it becomes easier for readers to understand why certain information differs from others.
For example, you wish to explain the different features of your product. Would you prefer all the features added in one article or have each have a separate article under different categories? Explaining each feature under a relevant category would be a better idea. This way, customers can relate to their functionality and understand the feature faster.
3. Define Your Base Template
With categories defined, it is time you move on to the template of your product documentation. Before you finalize anything as your template, be mindful that you can’t change the product documentation template that frequently. However, it will define the look and feel of the articles you write.
Moreover, it defines the structure you may follow throughout all the articles. You must maintain it even when a particular article gets updated due to a feature upgrade. Templates aren’t something you can mess with. Pay attention to building one, as it will help you present the content to the customers.
A word of caution: Many product documentation software providers will offer you multiple template formats, which may encourage you to avoid a similar structure throughout. But understand that the same structure across all articles will also help you emphasize your branding.
4. Focus on Making it Simple
The simpler your language, the easier it gets for customers to understand your point.
You wouldn’t want to burden your customers with technical jargon, right?
If that’s the case, it would be great to keep the language of your product documentation more comprehensible. It should be clear to any layman. Understand that complicated product documentation is also one of the reasons why customers seek human support. There would be a lot of terms and concepts they won’t understand right away.
Rather than pushing them toward the support team, please focus on writing the entire repository in the most simple manner possible. If you achieve that goal, there is no way your customers would avoid reading the product documentation.
5. Answer What, Why & How
Whether it is your product, its features, or the feature functionality pages, they should focus on answering three crucial questions – what, why, and how.
You need to explain the product/feature/functionality, why they are beneficial to the user, and how they can be used. When writing the benefits, it would be great to list them in a list, so it becomes easier for prospects or even customers to grasp them in one glance.
Whereas for the how-to-use section, it would be advised that you create a step-by-step guide. It will help customers or prospects understand how the feature can be enabled and customized according to their needs.
6. Don’t Forget Images, Videos & Diagrams
Make product documentation more engaging with interactive images, diagrams that execute the order in product functionality, and even explainer videos.
Good creatives will help you engage the repository articles and increase customers’ attention spans. But here’s a tip. The images and videos you think would be a great idea for the article should show where the product feature is located in the product and how it can be enabled. They will also give an idea to prospects of how your interface looks and how easy it is for anyone to find the needed features.
7. Always Ask if Documentation Was Helpful
Feedback is always great for moving ahead in the right direction.
Collect feedback before the customer/prospect is about to leave the page or has read through the article. The collected feedback will help you improve your existing articles or even add new ones if the customer says they didn’t find the article relevant and want to see something else.
Create the Best Product Documentation for Your Customers
It won’t take long for you to create complete product documentation for customers if you follow our guide (if not religiously). With each step, you can identify every product documentation’s necessary elements.
We hope this quick yet easy guide helps you create product documentation that answers customer queries in seconds. Happy reading!