What is software user help?
Great software user help ensures users get the most from your software. It’s typically delivered online, either embedded within the software UI, or published as web pages linked from the software. Great software user help enables self-service, reducing the need to contact your support teams. It also boosts pre-sales understanding and increases the likelihood that users will commit to fuller-featured versions.
By providing your customers with clear online help and support, you allow them to find the help they need instantly and take away the frustration of having to wait around for that email or chat reply, or hanging on the end of a phone. For you, it means reduced support costs and training, and customers more engaged with your product.
The quick guide to great help
The secret to genuinely useful online help is to make it feel like part of the product. Here are some examples of what this means when 3di supports you:
- only write what users will actually need
- separate ‘Concept’, ‘Task’ and ‘Reference’ information, but make linking easy
- make use of graphics, video, illustrations and tables
- embed what you create as close to the user’s task as possible
- reuse as much of the content as possible; for buyers to assess the software, and for support staff to solve problems
- use analytics to understand searching and browsing behaviours, and feed that understanding into improving the help, and the product
Your software users (or administrators) often start as software buyers
According to a survey by SDL, 88% of purchasers say they rely on technical product information to make a purchasing decision. Most customers trust the manufacturer’s website (61%) over other sources of product information. With these stats in mind, it makes sense to ensure that technical product information is readily available on your website and of a sufficiently high quality to represent your brand. And it’s better if it’s not ‘marketing’ content – just clear, accurate and easy to find.
Browser-based software needs browser-based software user help
Whether you are creating new content, or reusing legacy documents, publishing HTML rather than PDFs is easier and more effective. This approach has the following benefits:
- HTML content is easy to find, browse and display.
- It is more flexible – it can be incorporated into the product UI itself, or a browser extension of the product as well as your website.
- Standard web analytics tools enable you to understand what content readers are interested in.
- Keyword-rich content on your website improves your SEO performance.
- Commercially sensitive information in your legacy documents can be identified and excluded from the publicly available content.
The challenges of legacy documentation
For many years the most common approach to making user documentation available online was to publish existing PDF user guides on a website. Often access to these was restricted and only made available to partners and customers. This approach had, and still has, the following key drawbacks:
- Content behind a wall is not accessible to prospective customers, so you make it more difficult for those 88% of purchasers who are interested in your product.
- PDFs are not readily searchable and are difficult to read on mobile devices, so they restrict the number of people that can find them and use them.
- You can’t track what people are reading in a PDF, so you lose vital information about what customers are interested in.
- Small changes and updates need whole documents to be republished
- If you have users in other countries, managing multiple languages versions of PDFs costs time and money
How 3di can help
3di has the expertise to make the right recommendations about how best to provide software user help. We know how to efficiently convert and reuse legacy content. And we know how to understand software usability and the impacts on what the most important software user help will be. We have the tools available to produce and distribute content to the people who need it, for example, prospective customers, users, or support staff. We use proven approaches and understand how to apply the latest thinking in:
Embedded content & tailored guides
Incorporating videos and screenshots
Interactive knowledge bases
Support portals & chatbot integration
Multi-lingual software localization
So not only do your customers benefit from an improved experience, but that 88% of prospective customers can also have access to the high-quality product information you already have to help them make their purchasing decisions.
Find out more
If you want to find out more about our award-winning technical authoring team, our process, or our previous work for some of the world’s most well-known companies, you can visit our blog post or case studies pages for more information. Alternatively, if you want to discuss how we can help create you a software user help, contact us using the link below.