Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on March 25th, 2021

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Why creating PDF guides in ScreenSteps helps you launch your site faster

Picture this: You finally clear some time in your schedule and you’re excited to make some progress on launching the ScreenSteps website. You know that it will be a game-changer for your department when they can find procedures with a simple search. 

You’ve got your coffee and a bran muffin, so you’re ready to get started. Then, you hear a familiar sound on your computer that only means one thing — your plans are about to change. Somebody messages you asking for instructions on how to upload a file to the server.

UGH! This is actually a procedure you’d like to be on the ScreenSteps website, but you don’t have ScreenSteps launched yet and this person needs instructions now. So, you open up Word and Snagit, begin documenting the steps, and send them a 3-page document. 

When you finish that up, another question comes in and before you know it, the time you set aside to create content in ScreenSteps is gone. 

As you face this scenario over and over again, you wonder how you will ever launch ScreenSteps. You don’t want to launch until you can create all the crucial content for your knowledge base, but day-to-day priorities keep pulling you away. And your employees need the guides now.

Does this sound like something you’ve encountered before? You’re not alone.

I’ve worked with dozens of companies who have struggled to set aside time to create content for their knowledge base because they’re too busy putting out fires.

The beauty of using ScreenSteps to create your PDF guides is that you can address your immediate needs (explaining a procedure to a co-worker), while simultaneously building up your knowledge base. 

PDF Before Launch

First, I’ll show you how creating PDFs in ScreenSteps will help you launch your site faster. Then I'll share three ways to start authoring PDFs in ScreenSteps and filling your knowledge base today.

🔎Related: Too busy to write ScreenSteps content? Start with these 3 articles

How creating PDFs will help you fill your knowledge base for your launch

Think of ScreenSteps as your authoring tool. It is your new Word. 

For example, what if we take the scenario from the start of this article and changed one moment in the story? 

Instead of using Word or simply replying with instructions in an email, form a habit of creating everything in ScreenSteps. ScreenSteps allows you to write up a tutorial and export it as a PDF. You can create an article by grabbing screenshots, adding text, exporting it as a PDF, and sending it along. 

While that wasn’t the procedure you planned on documenting in ScreenSteps this morning, that’s okay because you’ve captured a process in ScreenSteps. Now, when you’re ready to launch the website that tutorial will be in there. And you were also able to share it right now as a PDF

So how do you create a PDF in ScreenSteps so you can share them with employees?

There are three options for setting up ScreenSteps to effectively build your knowledge base and download PDFs for immediate use at the same time.

3 tips to make creating PDFs in ScreenSteps easier

Double exposure of business man hand working on blank screen laptop computer on wooden desk as concept

When new customers begin using ScreenSteps, the goal is to create a website that end-users can search and browse for answers and step-by-step instructions.

However, when you are creating a PDF for immediate use, you don’t need to worry about searchability. The important thing is to simply write down the process. 

Here are three tips for making this new routine of creating PDFs in ScreenSteps easier to do.

1. Create a “dumping ground” manual to make it easy

To help you keep it simple, don’t worry about being super organized. Just create a manual in ScreenSteps (think of it as a folder) that you can use as your dumping ground for these quick articles. You can call this manual something simple like “(Your name’s) Manual.” Or you can use the Uncategorized Articles section of ScreenSteps.

When you are writing an article in response to an email, you don’t need to think about where you want to organize it or where it goes in the hierarchy. The goal is to just get the basic steps down. Then, that article will be there when you go back to organize your ScreenSteps site.

It may not be perfect, but at least it’s in there! You can always revise/improve it later.

Weeks from now, when you have several articles that are about a similar topic, you can create a manual or a chapter specifically for those articles and begin to organize your content. But at first, if you don’t have everything organized, don’t sweat it.

2. Keep ScreenSteps opened in your web browser

The best way to make sure this new routine sticks is to have your ScreenSteps site open on your computer while you are working. Next time you get a request for instructions, you just have to navigate to the browser tab with ScreenSteps and create a new article from that manual/chapter.

Having ScreenSteps always open will make it easier for you to create new content as well as return to articles that need to be updated.

You can also begin organizing articles in your knowledge base in preparation for launching the ScreenSteps website. In the end, having ScreenSteps always open in your browser will save you time because you won’t be approaching the launch as one massive project. 

Instead, you’ll be able to chip away at it one article, chapter, and manual at a time as you write out the instructions each time you receive a question from employees.

You can download the article, chapter, or manual as a PDF and share it with those who need it.

🔎Related: No bandwidth to create content? Apply this new habit

3. Use the desktop Launchpad

Another way to make the new routine sticks is to use the ScreenSteps desktop Launchpad. This makes it easy for you to quickly pop open the desktop editor and author ScreenSteps articles when you need to (without having to use the Admin area on the web). 

Just download the ScreenSteps app to your computer and keep the Launchpad open in the background while you work.

When a request comes in for instructions, create a new article using the Launchpad and document the process using the desktop editor. Then download a PDF of it when you’re done. It will also be saved to the ScreenSteps cloud.

Once again, don’t worry about the organization of your articles at this point. That can come later.

Right now, you need content in ScreenSteps if you’re ever going to launch. This approach allows you to gradually build your content for future users while also using it to handle requests coming in for guides.

Get started creating PDFs in ScreenSteps

Launching a ScreenSteps website to end-users takes a lot of preparation. It can feel like an impossible task to fill the knowledge base with content either from scratch or by importing content — especially when employees are asking questions they need the answers to now.

Luckily, ScreenSteps provides a way for you to fill your knowledge base while taking care of immediate concerns.

When you use ScreenSteps to create PDFs, it is like you are checking off two items from your to-do list at the same time:

  1. Answer employee’s question about a procedure immediately
  2. Create articles in your knowledge base for launch

You are writing the same things you were going to write in Word or another email, only now you have it in ScreenSteps. It is easy to edit in the future. Plus, it is now part of your ScreenSteps site that is searchable when you launch ScreenSteps for your employees.

Need more tips on writing content? Find out where you should get started writing guides — especially if you have no time to write them — with "Too busy to write ScreenSteps content? Start with these 3 articles."

Which Articles Should You Write First?

About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success