It’s fascinating to explore how different companies and different products incorporate a variety of tactics and features into their technical documentation to better serve their target readers.
In this article, we’re bringing you ten examples of excellent technical documentation to inspire you to create better, more efficient documentation your users will love.
Let’s take a look.
BMC—A Logical Structure That Mimics the User Journey
BMC offers cloud lifecycle management, a complex service that, naturally, needs more extensive documentation.
Fortunately for their clients, they supplemented their great service with an excellent knowledge base.
BMC’s knowledge base has the answers to any question a client might have when installing, using, or managing the service.
This is all pretty standard, but a feature that really stands out here is how the knowledge base is organized:
The entire workspace is structured to mimic the user journey, which is a great practice because it makes it easy for clients to set up the service and start using it.
The first thing on the navigation menu is a space for release notes and notices.
That makes sense because that’s the part of the knowledge base that will be frequently updated, so it’s smart to place it on top for the user’s convenience.
After that, the documentation is ordered in a way to lead the user through the installation process, use, and administration of the service as a series of logical steps.
The troubleshooting and FAQ sections can be found at the bottom to help the user navigate any problems they may encounter.
If you want your technical documentation to provide a flawless user experience, take a page from BMC’s book and structure your knowledge base in a logical way for effortless navigation.
Spren—Keeping Documentation Engaging
Spren is a provider of APIs that integrate with fitness apps to deliver personalized and accurate biometric data.
Once again, this is complex technology that needs clear and expertly written documentation to ensure clients have no problem incorporating the service into their own development processes.
But does this kind of content need to be dry and boring?
Not at all. Spren’s documentation, for example, has plenty of images and examples to keep readers interested and to present information visually, so it’s easier to absorb.
A particularly fun feature of Spren’s documentation is also their frequent use of emojis, which makes the documentation seem lighter and helps with reader engagement.
Spren’s documentation was created with Archbee documentation software, which has a native editor that allows users to express themselves beyond normal text, using emoji, tables, checklists, code snippets, multimedia and much more.
Keeping readers engaged is the key to amazing technical documentation for startups and quality software should never prevent users from getting their points across using any means necessary.
So choose documentation software with as many input options as possible. We have for you the best tips that show you how to improve software documentation!
Disguise—Putting Searchability Front and Center
Oftentimes users will turn to documentation in search of very specific information. They might be facing an issue with your service or they could be ready to implement a certain feature.
In those cases, it’s important not to let the user wander around the knowledge base in search of information.
That wastes time and defeats the purpose of having a documentation page in the first place.
A good way to prevent the user from getting lost in a sea of documents is to present them with a search engine as soon as they start using the knowledge base.
Disguise does an excellent job providing instant help to users who need it. All a user has to do is type in their query and choose what they need from the results generated below.
Remember, once users have installed and learned to use the product, they will be returning to the documentation to expand their usage and look for solutions to issues.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to enable searchability for your technical documentation. In case you want to discover even more, here are other types of technical documentation we recommend you to read.
Segmind—Live Code Makes Installation Easier
Technical documentation is at its most helpful when it supplies developers with code they can instantly use to complete installations and manage the product.
Segmind provides a good example of this.
Segmind’s knowledge base contains an entire Python library that its customers can use to interact with the service directly, within a Python script or application.
All the customer has to do is copy the code snippets for each step and use them to run the installation and all sorts of other things, like uploading data and interacting with the control plane.
Developers appreciate this kind of convenience, which is why many software companies today build their technical documentation using documentation tools with code editing capabilities.
Archbee, for example, has a multi-language code editor that makes sharing code snippets effortless.
That way, documentation consumers can follow instructions and extract code using a single resource, the technical document in the knowledge base.
Quality technical documentation is all about convenience. By including code in documentation, you’re enabling users to complete tasks faster and more efficiently.
Solace—Technical Documentation as a Marketing Tool
Technical documentation can serve a lot of purposes, and a purpose that’s often overlooked is marketing the product to interested audiences. Here's why technical documentation as a marketing tool can be a very powerful ally.
This is a shame because technical documentation can have a lot of business benefits, outside of guiding existing users through the features of the product.
The sleek knowledge base of Solace, the event streaming and management platform, is a living example of this.
The first thing to note here is the great graphic design that’s sure to draw the attention of potential customers and motivate them to flip through the documentation.
Once interest is sparked, the knowledge base provides a great starting point for the potential customer to learn about the platform.
There’s an “about” section explaining what the service does and how it’s used:
Immediately after that, there’s a link to the free trial for the platform. The setup takes just 90 seconds and there’s a handy tutorial to help the user install the platform effortlessly.
Keep in mind that software buyers do most of their research online.
That means that your technical documentation can act as a powerful marketing tool to satisfy the potential buyers’ curiosity and convince them your product is the best fit for their needs.
Sisense—Asking for Valuable Feedback
All technical documentation is written with the explicit purpose of assisting people as they use a product.
So the question that needs to be asked is: how can you actually be certain that your documentation is helping people?
Sisense has a good answer.
This business intelligence software provider has a document library full of how-to guides and tutorials for using their service.
However, the feature that really sets this knowledge base apart can be found at the bottom of every document page.
Every article ends with a prompt for the reader to leave instant feedback. The process is really simple.
All they have to do is click the thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon to signal whether the document was helpful or not.
That way, if the data tells the company’s knowledge managers that a particular article is getting overwhelmingly negative feedback, they can act to improve it, thereby improving the user experience of the entire base, little by little.
Long story short, technical documentation is written for the benefit of audiences. To ensure that benefit is really there, find ways to collect feedback, just like Sisense did.
Datree—Leveraging the Power of Video
When you need to explain very complex ideas and terms, which is exactly what technical documentation does, showing is often better than telling.
In a nutshell, that means you should use all resources at your disposal to help users understand and retain what you’re trying to teach them.
Video materials are a case in point.
Research has shown that people tend to retain up to 95% of information when it’s presented to them in video materials, as opposed to 10% retained just by reading.
Datree has a knowledge base that applies this lesson to its technical documentation.
The tutorials given here are oftentimes supplemented with step-by-step video guides so users can actually see how the features should be implemented correctly.
In fact, the instructions are given by an expert from the company, seen in the upper right corner:
This is a great practice because it puts a human face on the documentation, making the installation and usage processes more engaging.
Including video within technical documentation is really easy to do if you’re using quality documentation software to create your knowledge base.
For example, Archbee allows users to embed videos from YouTube and Vimeo, which is very handy for our clients who have corporate accounts on those platforms.
Spryker—Knowing Your Audience
Spryker is a cloud commerce operating system. The nature of their platform presents an interesting conundrum.
Spryker’s documentation needs to serve multiple audiences: developers and engineers who will implement and administer the platform, as well as end-users who will manage their stores with Spryker.
That means their knowledge base needs to hold documents with a variety of purposes, which need to be written with the audience’s technical knowledge level in mind.
Spryker has a good solution to this problem.
The knowledge base is organized not by user-journey phases, like we’ve seen in some other documentation examples, but by audience segments.
As you can see, every user of the technical documentation starts by identifying themself as one of the three intended users (developers, business users, cloud engineers) and then goes on to the library of documents designed specifically for them.
Once they get to the appropriate space, each user will find documentation appropriate for their role and level of technical expertise.
So for example, business users will find instructions for the front-end of the application written in non-technical terms:
While developers will find more technical information, API references, code snippets they can instantly copy and other resources created for their needs.
Spryker is an example of a product that needs to pay extra attention to who the documentation is written for.
However, most products will have developers who install and maintain them, and end-users who will access the product in their daily work.
Therefore, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to provide ample documentation for both kinds of readers.
Docker—Ensuring a Comfortable User Experience
Docker is a platform as a service product for building, running, and shipping applications.
As you can imagine, with a platform like this, users need to consult the technical documentation frequently to be sure they’re using the platform properly and to learn and apply all of the features that Docker has to offer.
In these kinds of situations, it’s not a bad idea to take some extra steps to ensure a comfortable and safe experience for the users.
Docker has a handy feature for exactly this purpose: a light and dark mode.
The normal mode for the documentation looks pretty standard. A white background with black lettering and light-blue accents. It looks like this:
However, flipping the switch to dark mode produces a much different interface:
So how does user experience improve with the inclusion of dark mode?
A couple of ways actually. Dark mode can help with eye-strain caused by prolonged exposure to computer screens.
Studies have shown that as many as 58% of Americans experience digital eye strain as a consequence of working with screens, so the opportunity to give your eyes a rest is always welcome.
Also, dark mode can help with battery life, which is a lifesaver for users who need to access the documentation via portable devices.
So if you’re operating a knowledge base that’s used frequently and for longer periods of time, providing a dark mode for the interface is a good way to offer a more comfortable user experience and help users stay on-page for longer.
Frase—Summaries for a Fast Learning Process
Frase has a very convenient knowledge base that contains video lessons for customers to become power users.
A smart aspect of their documentation is that each lesson is prefaced with a summation that presents the main points of the lesson as a bulleted list.
This is a very convenient feature to have because it saves a lot of time for users who need to become proficient in using this SEO tool.
Keep in mind that documentation can be quite intricate and detailed and having users read entire documents (or watch entire video lessons, in this case) is risky because those users might become frustrated very quickly and quit the knowledge base.
With Frase’s documentation, users can see quite quickly what awaits them in the next video and decide for themselves if this is knowledge they are looking for or if they can skip this lesson.
Even if your knowledge base doesn’t contain any video, providing a summation of the main points the next document will cover is guaranteed to save users a lot of time and provide them with exactly the information they need at that moment.
We hope that this article has shown you some new ways to make your documentation more engaging, efficient and laser-focused for the audiences you serve. Hope you learned something new from these technical documentation examples we love.
From good structure and searchability, to using multimedia and examples of code, any resource that’s at your disposal should be used to help users navigate and enjoy the technical documents in your base.
And if you really want to make your documentation stand out, make sure you’re working with the best documentation software available to take care of all of your needs.
At Archbee, we’ve helped more than 16,000 technical writers create better documentation.
So, why not give our free trial a go and find out if Archbee is the right fit for you.