It’s time to put your product documentation on the web
We have been telling companies for a long time that they need to move their product documentation out of PDF and Word files and onto the web. This has been true for awhile, but over the last 12 months we have seen the number of companies doing this start to increase. Here are a few reasons why it is more important than ever to move your product documentation to the web.
1 - It is better for your support agents
When you have your product documentation on the web, your support agents can answer support emails, forum posts and chats by pasting a link to specific help articles that answer customer questions. This allows your support agents to be more productive and helps your customers get better, more consistent answers. If your documentation is trapped in a PDF file your support agents can’t easily use it.
2 - It is better for your authors
When you move your documentation online your authors can do a better job of keeping things up to date. The generally don’t have to worry about completing huge projects that will exported as one large PDF book. They can work on and publish smaller, more focused articles that can be used right away. The will also get feedback on the effectiveness of their articles much more quickly since the support agents will be using the content they are creating.
3 - It is better for your customers
Customers don’t want to deal with PDF documentation that is out of date. When you documentation is on the web then you can keep it up to date much more easily.
Also, a lot of documentaiton is now being consumed on mobile devices. PDFs in general are hard to read on smaller devices while online documentation that is created by services such as ScreenSteps (ScreenSteps is an online documentaiton authoring and publishing service) can be mobile optimized, automatically adapting to the size of the screen your customer is using.
If you make your online documentation public as well then your customers can easily search for it right from your web browser.
Is PDF documentation dead?
No, it isn’t. There are still times when customers will need PDF documentation for viewing the documentation offline. But PDF should be a secondary delivery format, not your primary or only delivery format. Applications like ScreenSteps will allow you to simultaneously publish documentation to the web and as PDF files.
If you haven’t started moving your documentation to the web then get started. Your support agents, your authors, customers and your business will thank you for it.