Expertly written, easily accessible technical documentation is something no software company should do without. However, creating, distributing, and maintaining technical documentation is no easy task.
Thankfully, documentation tools are here to help.
In this article, we’re bringing you nine excellent software tools that will help you produce better docs to satisfy the needs of your users.
Each of these products is different, so let’s get right to it and find you a documentation tool perfect for your needs.
One of the biggest advantages of this tool is the ease with which documents are managed and organized.
Technical writers are free to create spaces that can be populated with documents using a simple drag-and-drop function, making knowledge management much easier.
Archbee also facilitates documenting all kinds of products because it uses a block-based approach to writing and provides more than thirty different ways for technical writers to express themselves using the software’s unique editor.
These include text, diagrams, multimedia, code, and embeds from external software tools.
Documentation professionals are particularly fond of Archbee’s editor, giving it raving reviews.
For example, Tom Johnson, from the I’d Rather Be Writing blog, thinks it’s the best feature of the app:
“Their editor is one that you can easily fall in love with and is the centerpiece of the product. The whole authoring platform feels extremely responsive, modern, and web-friendly.”
So if you want a documentation tool that will allow you to express yourself in any way you’d like and organize your entire knowledge base in just a few clicks, Archbee is definitely the way to go.
This documentation platform is a great choice for creating user manuals. It’s easy to work with and lets authors write quickly and efficiently.
Authors who need to write technical documentation for similar products will find this tool’s templating functions particularly useful.
They allow writers to create reusable content that can be easily inserted into new documents.
Just like Archbee, Document360 supports Markdown writing for text-heavy documentation, but the “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editor is especially interesting—it allows authors to preview the document exactly as it’s going to look after publishing, while they’re still writing it.
These two modes of writing should do a good enough job of helping authors create any kind of documentation they need for their knowledge base.
All in all, this is a great product for technical writers who need an intuitive tool that doesn’t require a lot of learning.
Document360 is easy to use, which makes the documentation process run smoothly and results in beautiful, interactive knowledge bases and user manuals that are a joy to read. And, if you are looking for a Document360 alternative, we got an answer for you.
ClickHelp brands itself as a help authoring tool (HAT), and it really delivers a strong platform for creating all kinds of help content in a variety of formats.
This tool is among the more complex ones on our list because it’s one of the rare products that provides authors with everything they need to single-source their documentation.
That means writers are able to create documentation in one place and then export it into one or more of the formats ClickHelp supports, such as PDF, online documentation, CHM, HTML5, and Web Help.
That means ClickHelp is perfect for documentation providers who need to offer online and offline support to their users.
ClickHelp’s import capabilities are similarly robust. This platform can import files from a wide variety of formats, such as RTF, CHM, ODT, HTML, and Microsoft Word, just to name a few.
So if you need to document a product in more than one format, for example, if your products are hardware that comes with physical documentation, as well as online help, ClickHelp should satisfy all your needs. Here are other ClickHelp alternatives!
If you’re looking for a documentation tool that will allow you to emphasize the uniqueness of your company and provide branded content for your users, Helpjuice might be perfect for you.
This software product boasts a high degree of flexibility and offers many content formatting options within one user-friendly editor.
That means that you’re free to use brand fonts and upload as much media as you need to get your point across.
In addition to that, Helpjuice is easily customizable and has a wealth of themes you can apply to your documentation and make your knowledge base integrate seamlessly into your online presence.
Add to that the fact that it integrates with almost any software you need for work, and you have a truly flexible, yet powerful tool that looks and feels like it was made in-house and provides all the support your users need.
All of these features do come with a higher price tag than many of the other products on this list, and Helpjuice’s most basic plan comes at $120.
For comparison, you can get many of the same features with Archbee’s basic plan for $49.
Confluence is a documentation tool built by Atlassian, and it integrates perfectly with some of its other products, such as the issue-tracking software Jira and the famous project management tool Trello.
Authors working with Confluence can create user-friendly, Wikipedia-style knowledge bases, and easily share documents and collaborate with other team members, which makes this tool a great choice for internal documentation portals for remote teams.
Something that could be considered a drawback is that Confluence lacks some of the customization features that other products on this list include.
This isn’t a problem if you’re using Confluence for internal purposes, as there isn’t much need for branding in that case.
However, if you’re creating customer-facing documentation and need it to be on-brand, it might be a little more difficult to customize.
Nevertheless, Confluence’s knowledge sharing and collaboration features make this software a top product in the documentation space.
It’s a good choice for teams who collaborate closely and need to exchange knowledge frequently.
HelpNDoc is another documentation software product that lets users create documents in many formats from a single source.
However, unlike other products with this capability, HelpNDoc is actually easy and intuitive to use.
Its interface features a Windows ribbon-like look that may look a little dated but presents users with a familiar environment that’s easy to pick up.
The documentation created in HelpNDoc can be exported in a variety of formats, such as PDF, HTML, DOCX, Markdown, and so on.
HelpNDoc’s software has been around for quite some time (almost 20 years) and has gathered an impressive list of clients, such as Siemens, Microsoft, and Amazon, to name a few.
Interestingly, with Amazon as a client, HelpNDoc includes ePub and Kindle doc output capabilities, making it one of the very few documentation software products that support ebook formats.
This product is dependable and trustworthy, which is evident by its longevity and impressive list of clients. It’s not as flashy and visually appealing as some of the other products on this list, but its interface is easy to learn and familiar to anyone who has ever used a Microsoft Office product, which has its own appeal.
Bit.ai offers a good all-around documentation solution for both external and internal knowledge bases.
It provides all the means necessary to create and maintain technical documentation for clients, as well as resources for your own team, such as employee handbooks, policies, and work procedures. We wrote an article about what is an internal knowledge base and why your team needs one, you should check it out!
A very useful feature to note is the wealth of document templates for almost any purpose you can imagine, which makes creating well-rounded, neatly designed documents easier than ever.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated technical writer on your team, you’ll be able to create professional-looking documents as soon as you access the software. If you're wondering why, here's why SaaS startups need technical writers!
The only drawback users are noticing concerns the limited customization options available in this app.
For example, Bit.ai offers a limited choice of fonts, meaning that creating on-brand documentation with your company’s chosen font won’t be possible.
Other than that, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything to complain about with this lightweight yet powerful tool.
And the affordable starting price of just $12 for the basic plan makes it one of the most affordable products in the documentation space.
The interesting thing about this documentation app is that it is completely powered by WordPress.
It works as a WordPress theme you can apply to your website to make it behave as a fully functional knowledge base.
An obvious advantage of this is that users who are already familiar with WordPress will instantly know how to use KnowAll, without having to spend any time learning how to work the product.
KnowAll uses WordPress’s block editor and category systems to create and manage all of your content, which makes the documentation process as easy as publishing a blog post.
Another important feature to mention is the powerful native search engine with an autocomplete function.
Users stand to benefit from this feature because it makes it possible for them to find any piece of information quickly and easily, making for a comfortable user experience.
And it comes with search analytics which allows you to track what kinds of content your users find the most useful and search for the most.
However, search analytics are only available to users subscribing to the “KnowAll Plus” plan, which costs $199—which definitely isn’t cheap.
All in all, for power users of WordPress, this app represents a great choice for knowledge management that will align with their skills perfectly.
HelpDocs is especially useful for customer service because it offers great functionality in providing users with a self-service support channel so they can solve issues with your product independently.
This is because HelpDocs offers powerful search functions that will enable users to instantly find the content they need to fix a problem or learn how to complete a task.
Great searchability with unlimited customization, which HelpDocs also offers, means that the help content and technical documentation you publish will look and feel completely native to your brand.
Speaking about HelpDocs, if you are looking for a HelpDocs alternative, we have the perfect answer for you.
That way, users can feel confident in the level of support you offer and know that your knowledge base offers the best possible answer to any query they may have.
All of this support can be delivered in multiple languages, a great option to have if you have international users in need of support.
However, multi-language support is only available with the upgraded, more expensive plans.
How to Choose the Right Tool for You
One clear takeaway from this article is that documentation software comes in many shapes and forms to satisfy different documentation requirements.
Therefore, your choice of software will depend on various factors. Some features will be essential, while others will be nice to have or even unnecessary.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind while choosing the right documentation software for your product:
- Do you need to build an internal or external knowledge base, or both?
- Is your audience international or local, and will you need multi-language support?
- Will you need only online documentation, or will you be exporting it into several other formats so it can be printed and shipped with the product?
- Can you afford an expensive, multi-functional software product, or can your needs be met with an affordable, lightweight app?
- Is ease of use important to you, or do you have a dedicated technical writer who can operate more powerful software?
By answering at least some of these questions, your task of choosing the right tool for your needs should become much easier.
All that’s left for you to do is choose the documentation tool that perfectly fits the nature and functions of your technical documentation.
You can try it out right away by signing up for a free account and then upgrading your plan according to your needs.
We hope this article has helped you get a clear understanding of your needs when it comes to technical documentation tools to help you produce better docs, as well as the variety of tools available to create it.