Documentation Best Practices: Guide To Make It Effective

If you want to guide your users or customers to use your service or product, well-written documentation can help them the best. You can implement documentation best practices and give access to all information that the readers need to have. Let’s learn all about documentation best practices in this blog.

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Documentations are the source of finding the desired answers for the users or the customers. Nowadays, people tend to research and find their own solutions online. You can utilize it and create useful and effective documentation to reduce pressure from your support team. No matter if you own a WooCommerce store or a plugin developer, you can easily benefit from creating proper documentation for your users.

How Documentation Can Help Your Users?

Before you start writing any documentation, think about how it will benefit your users or customers. When users have trouble understanding a product or are unsure about a process, they typically look up related documentation. As a result, it serves as a guideline for both technical and non-technical people. Let’s learn how documentation can effectively help your users or customers easily.

Documentation best practices

💡Forbes statistics say that more than 40% of customers prefer self-service to contact any human support team. That is where a documentation guide can come to use to provide consistent support and help for your customers. Your customers can be from around the world and might need help at any moment. Instead of directing them to contact your support team, you can hand down the solution following documentation best practices. 

💡As documentation can provide answers before your customers even ask for it, you will reach the ultimate level of customer satisfaction and increase the customer retention rate. If you think of using documentation solutions or plugins, you can even get feedback from your customers on your documentation. 

💡 If you have written documentation but no one can find it using an online search engine, it is useless. Customers will be able to find your documentation more easily if it is SEO optimized. As a result, you must follow documentation best practices when writing your documentation. 

Documentation Best Practices That You Can Follow 

Creating documentation and maintaining it is a continuous process. From drafting to updating documentation, you need to keep following the documentation guide for better results. Let’s learn some of the top best documentation best practices step by step and understand the significance of each step.

1. Thoroughly Create Documentation Plan

As documentation is a guideline for your users, you need to sit and plan how you will guide them through the process step-by-step to make their experience easier. You need to do extensive research before you start. Suppose you have a WooCommerce shop and you want to guide your customers about how to purchase a product through your website. Assume that the person does not know how to use a website for purchasing.

According to the ideal documentation guide, you can jot down the key steps first and create a map or flowchart for your documentation. While a customer seeks help about how to make a purchase from your website, they can easily see the steps at one glance from your documentation. So the recommended documentation best practice is to create a thorough plan beforehand. Let’s learn some of the steps to make a documentation plan below: 

  • Set a goal before starting your documentation

While creating a documentation plan, you should set a target for yourself. What will be the primary goal of writing documentation, and how will it benefit the customer? You must assess whether the documentation displays your product’s installation process or assists customers in configuring the settings. You can’t put everything in a single document. As a result, you’ll need to separate each solution into its own set of documentation.  That is why the first and most important stage is to set a goal for the documentation. 

  • Recheck all the resources you have in hand

The second documentation guide will be to recheck the existing resources to avoid creating duplicate documentation. No matter if you are writing documentation for yourself or others, you need to check the available resources first. It will eventually save your customers or users from being confused. 

  • Determine a style guide for your documentation

Set the tone for your documentation before you start writing it. Consider the readers who will be relying on your documentation for direction. Many technological organizations prefer their technical documentation to be written in a straightforward and simple way. Some businesses, on the other hand, may use elaborate language in their documents. As a result, you must define a tone for your content based on your intended audience.

  • Create documentation structure 

Just like writing anything we create a draft or content skeleton, one of the documentation best practices will be creating a roadmap before you start. For example, if you are writing documentation about installing something, you can write down the topics and subtopics that might be related to it. 

2. Design Or Style Your Documentation With Consistency

Documentation presentation is important for users or customers because it can determine the usability of your documentation. Of course, you have written documentation that is well-researched and well-written but if the doc format does not look convenient, readers will skip it. We have some suggestions on the documentation guide below about designing or styling your documentation.

documentation best practices

  • Use ready templates to design documentation

Suppose you have a WordPress WooCommerce website and want to publish documentation on a topic. You can use a documentation plugin and get access to ready templates to design your documentation page. Documentation best practices will be using ready templates and styling your documentation to enhance its readability. 

3. Write Documentation Following A Pattern 

As you have made a plan, set a tone and configured a design or style to present your documentation, it’s time to write down the first draft step by step. Let’s see some of the simple documentation best practices below and make your documentation more attractive.

documentation best practices

The language of documentation must not be complicated and the length should be precise. Instead of pushing all the information in one document, you can create multiple knowledge bases for your reader’s better understanding. So compose a compact yet useful documentation that is easy to follow. 

While writing documentation, you also need to understand how to make it interactive and engaging. There is no alternative to images, infographics and videos when it comes to documentation. A text-heavy document is not appealing to any reader. So you can add useful and related images to enhance the quality of your documentation.

4. Add Logical Navigation Structure To Your Documentation

According to the documentation guide, you can use navigation options or buttons to organize your documentation page and make your reader’s experience more pleasant. Navigation options or buttons are able to guide your readers through finding any content they are looking for. Let’s see some of the most useful navigation tools for your documentation website below: 

  • Table Of Content For Your Documentation Knowledge Base 

It will be easier for readers to see what single documentation will offer them if you use a table of content for your documentation pages. This is the most effective technique to provide a thorough overview of the content and better organize it. So that your document’s readers have a clear idea of what they’re getting into before they start reading it.

Documentation best practices

  • Add Advanced Live Search Bar 

The advanced live search bar is a great way to help website visitors quickly find their desired content just by searching for it. If you have more documentation on your site, you can add a search bar so that people can navigate easily without being confused.

documentation best practices

  • Add Tags & Categorize Documentation

Categorizing documentation can help you to be organized and broad grouping identical documentation. On the other hand, tags are used to narrow down the focus on the specific topic. You can create a taxonomy of your documentation page and score better in SEO results. You can add tags and categories to your documentation using a knowledge base plugin like BetterDocs. 

5. Create An Update Schedule For Documentation 

As mentioned before, creating documentation is a continuous process and the best practice is to keep updating it from time to time. According to the documentation guide, you can create a schedule and update documentation one by one when needed. This simple step can make sure that your customers or readers are getting to the point solution from you. You will have a streamlined process if you start applying these documentation best practices while planning and writing your own documentation. 

6. Translate Documentation For International Readers 

The ideal documentation guide suggests increasing the accessibility of your documentation as well. It means, when you have international readers from around the world, you can translate the documentation page for them to make it more accessible. If you use the BetterDocs plugin to create a documentation page all from scratch, you can easily translate any single document as BetterDocs has compatibility with the most popular multilingual translation plugin WPML.

documentation best practices

Bonus: Ultimate Guide For Creating The Best WordPress Documentation Site

If you are planning to create a WordPress documentation site for your customers or readers, you can do so using the ultimate documentation plugin BetterDocs. Along with multiple ready templates, you will get options to style your documentation pages, add tables of content, live search options or even instant chatbot.

documentation best practices

If you have successfully implemented these suggestions while creating documentation, then congratulations! You have successfully used all the documentation best practices already. To read more informative blogs like this subscribe to our blog and share your thoughts on documentation practices by joining our Facebook community.

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