Making software documentation is thorough work that requires a lot of attention towards minor things. It’s more scrupulous than writing a novel and sometimes requires more time than writing a series. With, the process becomes easier to both understand and complete. But to make the most use out of it, you need to be aware of software documentation details.

Mission Immiscible

When you’re preparing docs for your software, the first thing you should care about is that it covers everything. The second (but no less important) aspect is that it covers everything correctly.

It means a lot of text that explains in step-by-step mode actions that seem intuitive to you (and many advanced users). You’re not talking to an advanced user: you write, so even a person who’s never seen a computer or a smartphone before can read it and use your software correctly. So there is never too much explanation.

As for screenshots, they are necessary to make your documentation visual. The reader should be able to compare the instruction and the actual software and see where to click or tap, what to search for, what to connect, and which operations to perform.

In addition, it’s great when your documentation has internal and external links. Some of them may lead the reader to websites with more explanation, some to respective sections within the same document, and some may even launch the software in question in special modes. Nothing is to be missed.

Portal Combo

The best idea of how to create software docs is to have a portal where the work takes place. The team can work on documents collectively. The manager can schedule the process, oversee the results, and control the team members when necessary.

The portal made for software docs has templates and patterns for every possible type of documentation (which is, for obvious reasons, following common guidelines). It may be help files, user manuals, FAQ pages, and even Wiki projects (which are, in fact, the expanded versions of a standard manual, with internal and external links and a catalog).

The most demanded features of such an online tool include:

  • Native documentation support. There are native documentation tools relevant to various programming languages. The service should support the one you’re using.
  • Teamwork support. It can be a proprietary workspace or integration with Microsoft Team, Google Docs, Slack, Zoom, or whichever external tool is useful.
  • Version support. As the product is updated, so should be the documentation. The docs for old versions (in case someone sticks to them) should remain relevant. But new versions require new documentation as well.
  • Productivity tools. The managers should be able to see the performance of the team (or teams) with metrics, reports, analytic data, and so on.
  • Multiple export options. When the product is ready, you will need your documentation exported and readable for the end customer. It can be PDF, Microsoft Office, AppleWorks, or any other format the customer wants. Along with offline docs, there should be an online version of the documentation that gets updated first and thus is the most relevant at any given moment.
  • Templates. Many features of today’s software are similar or at least of similar classes. Choosing an appropriate template saves a lot of time and effort.
  • Good documentation. Even pros making docs for their own projects need comprehensible documentation for the tools they are using. This makes their work faster, stabler, and more efficient.

If you find an online environment that has it all, your working process will get incredibly easier. Rather than an industry than an art, docs making has its own standards.

Extras Making Difference

When it comes to documentation developing platforms, developers become customers themselves. It’s logical of them to expect what other customers expect. That includes competent and contactable support, an easy reader interface of the online tools, and good docs for the service itself. Even if you’re not a developer or a technical writer, you will benefit from better docs for the software you use. If you feel comfortable with a certain service, come on: it’s made for you.