Technical documentation or knowledge base or is simply information about how to use your software product. When you’re working in software development, you tend to have a lot of documentation that comes with the work. It can be challenging to keep track of everything, but having clear and accessible documentation can help. Technical documentation is critical for successful software launch because it helps users understand how to use your product.
Step 1: Know your audience and use cases
Before you write anything, make sure you have a clear understanding of your audience. This will help you determine what to document and how to structure that content. The most important factor is who your end user is. You will want to know their level of technical expertise, their goals or use cases, and their workflow. You’ll also want to know the type of hardware or software the user will be using.
Audience personas can help you organize this information. Personas are used to create an image of your user so you can keep them top of mind as you move through your project. Make sure to write down everything you know about your users so you can refer back to it as needed.
You’ll also want to know the type of support your users receive. This can help you build documentation that supports your team members. For example, if you know there is no telephone or email support for your users, then you probably don’t need a section about contacting support.
Step 2: Determine what to document
Before you write out any documentation, take an hour or two to figure out what you want to cover. This will help you stay organized and make sure you don’t forget anything. Start by creating a table of contents. This will give you a high-level overview of what you want to document.
Make sure to include an introduction and conclusion to each section, so readers know what they’re getting into. Next, create a list of topics that you want to cover. You’ll want to include both general topics and specific features. Depending on how many features or product functionality you have, you will have a lot to document. When you know what to document, you can break down your content into user stories.
Step 3: Outline your user stories
User stories are simply one-line descriptions of the functionality in your product. You can think of them as mini-specificationsfor each feature or functionality in your product, and what a user can do with that feature. Every user story starts with an action verb. These verbs describe the functionality in your product.
For example, a user story for an online shopping cart might be “User can add an item to the cart.” Next, you’ll want to include a brief description of how the functionality works. This is a good place to include any related information. For example, you might want to add a note about the items shipping company or their return policy.
Step 4: Write your User Stories
While you’re outlining your user stories, you can also start drafting your documentation. This will give you a head start while you finish outlining your documentation. For each user story, you’ll want to create a separate section in your documentation. Make sure to title the sections based on the user story, so it’s easy to find in the future. For each section, you’ll want to include a summary or overview. You can either create a stand-alone document or add it to your table of contents. This will help readers get an overview of the entire documentation set.
Step 5: Create your wireframes
If you’re documenting a new software product, you may want to include a mockup of your user interface. This can be helpful for readers who are visual learners. You can create wireframes in a number of different software tools. Or, you can use a tool like Microsoft PowerPoint to create static images. The benefit of PowerPoint is that it’s simple to create and offers lots of options for formatting.
When creating wireframes for your documentation, you’ll want to keep them simple. You don’t want to overwhelm readers with too much information. Instead, focus on creating a basic image with limited design elements. You can add more visual design elements when you’re ready to publish the documentation.
Step 6: Add your final words
Once you’ve written all your documentation, you can add your final words. This will help tie all your sections together. You’ll also want to add a couple of things to make your documentation more professional. Start by adding a table of contents at the beginning of your documentation. This will help readers navigate your content. You’ll also want to add a copyright notice. This will let readers know who created the documentation and that they can’t republish it. You can use the All Rights Reserved notice.
Creating technical documentation can be challenging
Creating technical documentation can be challenging. However, it is an important part of any software project. With the right documentation, you can help users navigate your software with ease. You can also reduce support calls and customer frustration. This can save your team time and money, while increasing customer satisfaction.