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Product Documentation: Why do I need it and How to Create it?

The journey of a newly launched product does not end until it has robust documentation to support it. How does the customer understand the value that your product offers? Are you providing in-depth information after the user starts using the product? These questions can be answered by the different types of product documentation that you package with it.

So, how does a newly launched product go about creating product documentation? What kind of documentation deliverable should be packaged with the product? How to bifurcate documentation as online or printable?
Here is a list of product documentation that mostly accompanies any product – irrespective of the type of audience.

Marketing Collateral
These documents generally include brochures, tri-fold handouts, flyers, product white papers, or product data sheets. In short, any document that assists the sales and marketing team in selling the product mainly falls under this category.

How-To/User Guides
These guides are the crux of product documentation that will provide assistance to your customers in the using the product. The user guide is a detailed compilation about concepts, which you need to complete procedures in the guides, and procedural steps. While, the How-To guide includes more of procedural steps and reference information.

Quick Start Guides
As the name suggests, these guides helps the customers in understanding the basic concepts of your product and get them started with it at the earliest. These can be supplementary and a subset to the larger documentation pool.

Release Notes
These are mostly preferred to be part of online help on the customer website due to their nature of offering. This single, or two, page document includes information about the limitations or additional information that did not make it to the product documentation.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
This document, again, is best provided to the customers as part of the online help on customer support website. It includes information about the most common questions or issues that the customer faces when using the product.

Though these are just some important pieces of documentation that are crucial to any product release, you can always include additional documentation as required, and based on the customer requirements. When investing time in documentation, customers should never forget that their product is only as good as the customer’s aptitude to use it. So, invest wisely in your documentation needs.