Are you solving multiple doubts or queries for your online software regularly?
If the answer is YES, you may be dealing with users who are yet to understand your product and explore its full potential.
Constantly getting questions about your software can take up a lot of support bandwidth, therefore causing frequent operator burnout. To help your support team avoid this scenario, you can try building your online software documentation.
What is an Online Documentation?
Online documentation acts like a manual that helps users understand what the product is and explains its features in a step-by-step manner. It even helps users understand the possible ways in which the product can help them at its full potential.
You can add images, videos, product GIFs, and more to show how various product features can be enabled and operated. Online documentation for software solutions can vary based on the complexity of the product in question. For some, the documentation may feel like an FAQ section, while for others, it may seem like an in-depth walk-through of the product.
How Does Online Documentation Work?
There are multiple ways in which an online documentation tool works. Here’s a quick list to help you gauge how it can be of help once implemented.
Works as a central storage system: You can secure all product-related information and create central access for customers and support teams that they can refer to whenever they have a doubt about a feature or how it works.
Saves time and energy: When you create a central repository of product information, you help both customers and support reps save time and energy searching for the right solution. You can even avoid frequent burnouts and help support teams focus on pressing support issues.
Promotes engagement and retention: Software documentation tools also help you keep customers engaged with the brand throughout their journey. Customers can avoid searching for answers around the product or its functionality across the internet. They will return to the resource you’ve developed and stay connected to the brand. This is a great way to keep them engaged with the brand and retain them at the same time.
Offers in-depth product knowledge: From set-up to all features, you can find them with online documentation. You can even find when the new version was released and how it differs from the previous one. It helps prospects in the decision-making process as they also include use cases and case studies from different industries.
Improves customer support experience: One of the greatest benefits of having online documentation for your business is improving the customer service experience. You can help your team save time and direct customers to a solution that answers their questions without waiting in queues or anticipating an email.
How to Choose the Right Online Documentation Solution?
Simply understanding online documentation and how it works for an organization won’t help you choose the best tool. But the following criteria list can. Here’s a quick list of things a business must seek when choosing an online documentation tool.
#1. Intuitive Editor
A simple yet feature-rich editor is a must when looking for software documentation tools. Understand that not one but many people might end up editing a single article in the same view. Therefore, it is important that everyone gets to see who is making which change in the article.
#2. Intelligent Search
The search option is a prominent feature for any documentation platform. Nothing is more catastrophic than a visitor departing your online documentation frustrated after a few minutes because he cannot find the correct information or product, even if you have it in stock. An intelligent search feature will save time for the users and help them quickly find answers. The search should be supported with tags, related keywords, and more.
#3. In-depth Analytics
It is essential for any business to identify how their online documentation is faring among customers/prospects. That’s why it is important to check if your knowledge base software helps you track the following metrics:
Top visited articles
Feedback responses to each article
Average time spent on articles
New vs. returning customers
The list goes on. But if one of the software solutions does offer these metrics, do not hesitate to shortlist the option.
The assets added to a knowledge base, such as product information, its videos, and images, are of utmost importance to any organization. Therefore, protecting these assets should be one of the priorities when searching for the best online documentation software for your business. Here’s a list of questions you can ask the service provider before you finalize the product:
What’s your strategy against unauthorized access?
Are you using any firewalls or two-factor authentication to protect the data?
Do you retain data confidentiality?
Questions like these will help you get clarity on how the service provider offers data security to its users.
Does the platform support versioning?
As a product business, you must ensure that product evolution is captured and documented. The users may onboard your product at different evolution stages. They may need to revisit the older documentation for a better understanding of a product feature. This is not only useful for end users, it is a must for the product development team as well.
So, the platform should support versioning with a time stamp.
#6. Workflow Management
Your knowledge base must offer you complete access controls for successful workflow management. For example, if you are an admin, it should allow you to assign roles to people who will access the software for writing and editing purposes. Those writing the article must be given limited access, whereas those editing the articles will have different control.
As we know, customization serves user satisfaction and trust in your brand. It applies to your documentation site as well. If a user lands on your documentation site, he should feel it as a part of your brand. The platform should give you the freedom to customize your online documentation site, not just with a logo and favicon, but with a custom domain, custom URL, and design your documentation site.
Here are some of the most effective online documentation tools.
While the tips on how to choose the online documentation software are beneficial, it would be great if you have a few options to kick-start your search for the best tool in the industry. This section explores the top solutions that can help you build complete online software documentation hassle-free.
Let’s dive in!
Document360 offers you a complete online documentation solution that is inclusive of but not limited to Simple search, category manager, tag management, article templates, and more. Its drag-and-drop UI helps you list all the categories and their subcategories in the order you desire.
That’s not all. It comes with AI-powered Search, Private hosting, Versioning capabilities, Backup & Restore, etc. Rich editor is something you must check out. You can choose between a Markdown and a WYSIWYG editor.
It allows full customization of documentation sites, and article descriptions will enable you to add the gist of the article, which helps in quick search and SEO. It supports collaboration to the next level with a team of editors, contributors, and publishers. You can also set up notifications to remove or update stale articles.
The plan starts at $99/month.
Clickhelp, a help authoring tool, helps you create software documentation hassle-free. This cloud-based solution is known for helping its users streamline collaboration among the documentation team. That means it will assist them in tracking the changes and make further improvements post confirmation as to who writes and edits the documents.
It even helps you improve the content by offering detailed insights on how articles are performing via reports. Those who have doubts about data migration from platforms like MS Word, HTML, CHM, and others can leave their worries behind. Clickhelp specializes in data migration from these and other platforms. What’s more, its simple UI makes configuration a piece of cake.
The plan starts at $55/month.
Confluence, like other online documentation solutions, helps users create software documents that can be organized categorically. This page tree makes advanced search possible, therefore helping customers find relevant articles faster.
Other than that, you can find yourself collaborating internally with other teams to streamline content correctness and quality. To streamline internal collaboration and secure content assets and user permissions. This will help you share account access with teams who are a part of the writing and editing process.
The paid plan starts at $55/month.
Nuclino is another software documentation tool that your organization can consider when searching for the best solution in the market. This service provider claims to help its users bring content to life with creative assets like images, videos, and more. It even supports features like auto-save, which helps you save your content progress while building your software documentation.
On top of that, you can also find options like instant search that assist customers in finding relevant articles efficiently. You will also find its 40+ integrations quite useful as they will streamline your work and plan future articles around product updates and feature upgrades hassle-free.
The plan starts at $5/user/month.
DocuWare is popular for its prominent features like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which helps its users convert image text into data. This helps their users add relevant data faster and make it accessible for their customers.
You can also track versions of existing documents. These will help you monitor the actual content published in the initial version and the changes made with each new update in the product.
Read the Docs
Read the Docs is a technical documentation solution that enables the building and hosting of your support articles around the software for free. That’s right; the service provider claims to offer its documentation service for free. You can manage multiple versions of your documents efficiently.
You don’t have to worry about per-user payment either. You can have as many users to manage your software documentation. The only catch that the product has are the ads. To run free, they use ads as a source to support their operations. Users opting for the free version may come across multiple ads as their accounts aren’t ad-free. But those who prefer going ad-free need to pay $5/project.
GitHub is popularly known for its ability to help developers log their programming days in their profiles. If a profile shows mostly green, it means that the developer has been coding frequently and updates its progress too. But not many know that the same platform offers documentation software too.
Apparently, they offer GitHub Pages and even a wiki platform to create your central repository. But if you integrate it with platforms like Jekyll, its GitHub Pages will help you create complete product documentation hassle-free. But do note that it will mostly be public and not private. What’s more, you will need good development skills to keep the documentation up and running.
The paid plan starts at $19/month.
Whatfix helps you create a complete digital walk-through of your product. You can give guidance on how the product works in the most interactive way possible with this solution. You can create complete documentation, FAQs, and more with the software in place.
It offers a detailed analytics platform as well. It will help you gauge how each reader interacts with every article in the repository, therefore giving you more scope to improve them for better results or even conversions.
If you thought that Dropbox is limited to storage facilities, we’d say think again. Their documentation tool, Dropbox Paper, is quite popular for being a co-editing tool. It promises to bring both creation and coordination together. It is perfect for creating repositories for both internal and external purposes.
What’s interesting is its ability to accommodate images, audio files, videos, and other types of creatives in the articles. The only thing that makes it hard for a lot of people to choose this tool is its limited folder ability. Also, it will be free for those who already have a Dropbox account. But if you want a separate subscription, it is advised to get in touch with their team.
HelpDocs is also one of our top picks. That’s because, just like the others in this list, HelpDocs too offer you the ability to create documentation, host them under their services, and even monitor the performance of all the articles you create.
This software also offers the drag-and-drop functionality that helps you rank the articles based on their importance or sequence in the product. It even helps you mark a few articles separately in the editor for writers or product teams. These markers will help them identify articles that need to be updated for better performance and customer experience.
The plan for this tool starts at $46/per month.
Are You Ready to Choose the Best Online Documentation Tool?
Worried about customers failing to understand your product? How about creating software documentation that helps them understand its purpose, functionality, and features?
By building complete software documentation, you can ensure that customers find all the answers related to your product in one place. They can also avoid going to support teams and save time and energy. Building documentation from scratch can be a tedious task and would require more resources on your end. In this case, it would be great to use online documentation software to create help documents for customers.
To help you get started, we’ve listed the best options to kick-start your journey to choosing the best online documentation tool for your business. We hope this helps!