As long as we have tools and software, we will require effective communication in order to effectively convey to others the use, creation, functionality, and architecture of our products. WHY? Simply because technical communication skills are necessary for capturing information and assisting the audience in gaining a better understanding of the product or technology we are selling.
While communication in the real world occurs through the use of words or expressions, technical communication occurs through the use of Technical Documentation in the virtual world!
Technical product documentation is created with the sole purpose of assisting the end user in comprehending the operation and architecture of the product or technology they are using. It's more of a detailed description of a product's nuts and bolts – a "how-to-use" manual for new employees, users, and anyone else who needs to know how it works!
However, as straightforward as it sounds, technical documentation can be perplexing! The majority of technical documents contain multiple phases, ranging from "How to use: If you're new and have limited experience" to "How to troubleshoot: In the event of a bug or error"
Therefore, if you're unsure where to begin, here's a comprehensive guide that will assist you in answering the what, why, and how of technical documentation, while also simplifying the process!
Let us begin!
You've come to the correct spot if you're new to product documentation and have never had to develop a product documentation specification.
While you may have mastered the fundamentals of creating a product documentation specification, putting it into action requires thinking and a committed approach. Here is a guide on what you need to know and how to develop a flexible and proper product documentation specification.
We'll define product requirements and discuss its purpose, as well as provide numerous instances of product standards. You'll learn what to include in your product documentation, how to write them, from establishing a product description to modifying them based on customer input and limited user testing, and how to get your products started on the road to production or the software development process.
What Is the Purpose of Product Documentation Specifications?
To develop a product documentation specification, you must first have a good grasp of what the product is. A product documentation specification is a blueprint for the product documentation you're developing, detailing how it will appear to your customers, as well as its particular requirements and functionality of your product documentation, such as search capabilities, language changing abilities and many more. Additionally, it may include the persona or consumer for whom the product is being created but this mainly applies to products who are intended for certain age groups.
This product documentation specification should be extremely clear, easily accessible, and contain all of the information required by your design team and product team. Include as much detail as possible to ensure that your technical writing team understand what to write and your designing team understand the layout of your product documentation. A table or chart of written specifications will indicate where more information may be located. Bear in mind, however, that this is only the product documentation specification sheet - you may leave the specifics of detail oriented aspects of the product to be written within your product documentation to your team for later installments of work.
What Information Should a Product Documentation Specification Contain?
Each product specification is built around technical requirements, engineering specifications, and other product-specific information. However, the following should be included in your product documentation as a minimum:
Summary: This is a high-level overview of the product. It begins with an overview of the product concept and concludes with a concise description of the product and its overall details. Additionally, it clarifies why the product was developed and its general purpose. The product description describes the finished product's appearance, and the features it will have.
Functional Specs: This is a written aspects that defines your product's look and capabilities. Additionally, it should describe how people will engage with it. Its very important to be as detailed as possible in these explanations, and leaving nothing out.
Use case: the product should state the use case of each function or feature of the product and how it benefits the end user. This could be deemed as more marketing level material. But if the usual has a user manual which also states the use case of each feature it will help them understand how it is to be used.
User Personas: This section describes the target audience for which this product has been developed. It details the target demographic and the problems that the product will address. Knowing the product's targeted audience ensures that your work remains customer-centric. Also if your product has certain dangers that are not meant for children it is wise to state that in your product documentation.
Pictures/video: each section should have necessary pictures or videos of your products in correlation with written information related to how the products is used. This will enhance your product documentation and the products use-cases.
How to Plan, Write, and Deliver Effective Technical Documentation
Technical documentation may get extremely sophisticated and complex! Thus, the critical thing is to ensure that your content remains current, accurate, and interesting for your audience by following these straightforward steps:
Be explicit about what you want your reader to do when you finish:
Technical documentation is entirely focused on the reader's following action. Express your purpose for every step and stage of your product documentation so that the user understands what they will be able to accomplish after reading. If you are clear on the document's end-user guides, writing your portion will be easier. And the more extensive your documentation the easier it will be for your readers to navigate through the information. Docsie also has many tools that will help with this, for instance our search navigation feature allows your users to search through your documentation and find information quickly!
Create an overview for the documentation:
Without a structured plan, it might be difficult to construct product documentation that flows well and is effective in reaching the main aim of your documentation criteria. As a result, it is strongly advised to start with a skeleton upon which your documentation can expand. Utilize headers, categories, sub-categories, and themes to properly arrange and group your materials. Docsie has many great tools which allows you to create documentation quickly and effectively and it aims at creating dynamic product docs.
We have search capabilities, a well grafted organization for your documentation, as well as many other powerful features.
Define your target audience:
It is critical to understand the audience using your products in order to determine whether your documentation is directed at developers, employees, or users. This is to ensure that consumers understand the context, aims, and capabilities of the product or technology in order to assist you in adapting to your audience. And also if your audience is from a certain country outside the country of your headquarters then having translated documentation is another factor you must consider.
Include drawings and captions in your content:
Illustration or diagrams of a technical documentation must include various measurements which explain the dimension or aspects of your products. If you are demonstrating features of a digital SaaS product then having snippets of these features works wonders as long as you demonstrate what they do, and how they work.
Additionally, images help break up the monotony of words and provide interest to the paper. Captions can assist in putting product diagrams and drawings with clear directions into perspective.
Reread, edit and rewrite:
Go over your technical documentation multiple times to ensure you haven't missed anything! Additionally, you may have your work edited by a coworker or supervisor to verify that you haven't missed anything. A review and modification mechanism would guarantee that the published material is accurate.
Docsie has amazing tools that can help you create your product documentation, if you want to learn more about Docsie Click Here.