Rebranding may not be the first word we think of when discussing product documentation. After all, such terms as “brand”, “logo”, “look and feel” or “visual design guidelines” are usually associated with marketing and the customer-facing aspects of any product, not with precise, fact-based and scrupulous content that is usually associated with technical writers.
But what about the part of your product documentation that can be easily accessed by both existing and potential customers?
Thou shalt not let your docs get ugly
It doesn’t take long to realise that the customer-facing technical documentation is a marketing asset, as important as any other. After all, most customers take their time with online research well before making a final purchase decision. In fact, a study by the Acquity Group says it’s as much as 94% of them.
That means your product documentation influences your sales, as one of the Oracle-funded startups is right to point out. That also means that the last thing you want to do is let your docs get unattractive. Or make them look obsolete, even though the actual content is kept up to date.
How to avoid such a grim fate? Take the docs through the rebranding process as well. Like Vodafone did, with a bit of our help.
What we did for Vodafone
We’ve been working with Vodafone on a few different projects. One of them is the One Net Information Site – a large, multilingual, customer-facing portal that serves as a knowledge base for one of their unified communications products.
As Vodafone is undeniably one of the biggest international telecom brands in the world, you may have noticed the changes its brand went through in the past few months, the most prominent being the refreshed logo:
Vodafone’s approach to rebranding is as it should be: holistic. That’s why they decided that, as the “look and feel” of the whole company changes, their product documentation should reflect that change. We took up the challenge.
More than a facelift, less than a revolution
What you can see above is a glimpse of the change the top menu went through. The reworked version (at the bottom) reflects the new Vodafone flat design guidelines.
Below are two examples of the update the portal’s icons went through. Obviously, this was done consistently throughout the site:
The website’s language switch area is a good example of the new, minimalist design:
Changes included numerous PDF documents as well. For example, each document’s cover was reworked in line with the new guidelines:
The devil in the detail
We made too many changes to list them all here, but the main ones included:
- Reinvented top menu and side menu design
- Updated screenshots (to reflect the way the rebranding affected the products)
- Revised typography, in line with the customer’s new guidelines
- Updated task videos
- Refreshed PDF documents (e.g. covers)
- Updated icons, taken straight from the customer’s official repository
- Reworked look and feel of the site’s search bar
- Updated colour schemes
Make it easy to keep up appearances
As you can see, refreshing the look of your product documentation doesn’t have to start a revolution to bring the desired result. Still, it takes some skill and effort to do it the right way, and designing the documentation so that it would be easy to rebrand in future is the most efficient and stress-free way of keeping up appearances.
When we designed the original site in 2015, we used a flexible, modular topic-based xml authoring tool (Madcap Flare) combined with a layer of CSS to handle the look-and-feel that we need to deliver at that time. That combination of technologies, and our approach to reusing content and design elements throughout the site, meant that we could be systematic and efficient with implementing the new brand.
With the rebranding process behind us, we can focus on ensuring the mix of content, and the structure of the knowledge portal keeps it working as an integral part of the One Net product and Vodafone’s customers’ experience.
Would you like to know more about how we work with Vodafone? Check the case study here.