5 Proven Ways To Create Excellent Help Documents
In the circus, a huge net is usually stretched out under the trapeze artists, which offers safety even in a mistake and catches a fall from a height. Would the artists have so much courage even without the network? Or would one or the other not even go to the trapeze? The help documentation in a company is also a kind of safety net.
Many users (and companies) also judge a product based on the help documentation. If the help gives the impression that good support is provided, then this influences the purchase decision. The opposite is true when the quality of the assistance is poor or absent. Without help documentation, companies risk losing sales.
Today we’ve put together some tried and tested methods to help your support teams create quality help materials and provide the best possible support for your customers.
How Do You Create Useful Help Materials?
A good help author makes complex topics simple: the structure must be set up so that users can find the right information quickly and understand it easily. In practice, this means explaining complex concepts in simple language step-by-step and task-oriented manner, and this is the basis of good help documents. If a specific task requires many individual processes, the smaller subtasks should be explained individually.
At the beginning of each topic, show a high-level overview of the various process functions. The user can then see at first glance where he can find the information he needs or that interests him most at the moment. This overview is also useful for the author himself because any gaps in the task-oriented documentation are identified right from the start.
1. Make The Process Sequence Clear, Even If Reality Often Looks Different.
Linear processes are easier to follow than non-linear ones. Help readers want and need clear structure and guidance. Show a specific process sequence instead of branching into multiple subtasks. In this way, you give the users an example of an efficient workflow and clarify questions about the sequence and dependency of the processes from the outset. Since you have relieved the users of many decisions, the learners will carry out the tasks successfully themselves more quickly.
2. Choose User-Oriented Terms
Express yourself clearly and concisely and write in an active style. Use words and phrases that users are looking for, not extremely technical terms developers might use. You should know your audience. If you have data to help you understand your audience’s product attitudes, then use those insights to use exactly the right phrases.
Even if your product is very complex and technical, the help doesn’t have to be that way. Divide the service into manageable sections and explain everything in an easy-to-understand manner. Use slang, controlled vocabulary, and simple grammatical structures, and users will appreciate that.
3. Optimization For Search Engines
When you search for helpful information on the web or in the product help, the relevant help articles should also appear. When your users search for answers on Google, your help articles need to be there too. When searching an internal help site, the correct article must appear at the top of the search results. This means you need to know exactly how the different search engines index and rank pages. Write your help articles with these criteria in mind.
4. Linking To Related Articles And Resources
If there are other relevant support articles, blog posts, or tutorials on a topic, be sure to link to them on your page or document. These other resources often describe the topic slightly differently or give even more technical details and further information. This can be very helpful for users.
5. Visual Media To Illustrate Your Texts
In the last point, we should address visual media, although there are a lot of other discussion points for creating good help materials. Images and videos can make help articles much better. Poorly chosen illustrations, however, do the opposite. I recommend incorporating visual documents into help documentation when the images and videos clarify and illustrate the text content.
Remember that even the visual media – images, videos, or animated GIFs -consistent and uniform should be designed. The format and style should follow the company’s internal branding guidelines. This makes the content clear, easy to organize and understand, and visual elements should clarify information and not raise more questions.
Are you a support staff, a content marketer, or do you work in another field? These tips should help you produce helpful content that leads your users to success.