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Public documentation

Guide to Create Public Documentation: Importance, Examples & Challenges

Category: Technical Documentation

Last updated on Mar 25, 2024

All product or service companies make some information available to the public to create a sense of transparency and showcase their competitive edge. Many businesses invest in a dedicated platform to share such information, known as a public knowledge base. Sharing information about products, services, features, and processes readily available to build trust with customers and prospects.

This is the power of public documentation. In this article, we will deep dive into the benefits of public documentation, challenges in implementing public documentation, and strategies to overcome it.

Importance of public documentation in the digital age

In this digital age, you can’t underestimate the power of public documentation. With several Knowledge base solutions available, you can create valuable information that reaches a global audience within a record time.

Sharing important information that’s not limited by geographical location has impressive benefits. These include enhanced customer experiences, an opportunity to continuously improve products and services, efficient communication, and encouragement of knowledge sharing.

Overview of public documentation benefits:

Public documentation can be a game-changer in your organization, and here are a few benefits that prove this.

Trust-building

Personally and professionally, trust has always been a major growth factor. Public documentation helps to promote transparency. Build credibility and trustworthiness by sharing information freely about your products and services. When you operate your brand with an air of secrecy, this drives suspicion. However, sharing valuable information is a positive sign and encourages business patronage.
Everyone from stakeholders to partners and consumers understands that information about your organization is easily accessible, and it takes only a few clicks to verify facts. An open-door policy for information through public documentation builds the integrity of your company in the public space. When there’s more effort to document your process, this fosters an air of accountability as you are more responsible to your consumers. High-quality documentation that is consistently accurate and up-to-date indicates that the business is willing to solve user queries with trusted source of information.

User empowerment

Access to information is power. Empower your users by giving them easy access to information on your brand through customer documentation. This applies to a wide variety of documentation, including blog posts, educational videos, and product manuals. When users can easily find the information they need through these resources, they are empowered with the knowledge to troubleshoot issues without wasting time contacting a customer support team.

This is one of the best ways to level the playing field for your users. This is directly related to your users being self-sufficient enough to interact directly with your products and services seamlessly. Comprehensive documentation enables your users to learn about your products and services independently, find answers to burning questions, and troubleshoot issues without burdening your customer service team. The continuous learning of your users is to your company’s advantage as they learn at their own pace, growing personally and professionally.

Business growth

Growing your business doesn’t have to be a complicated process. One of the best ways to boost your business growth is through public documentation. Your well-documented products and services will lead to positive customer satisfaction as they will be happy to use your products when they understand them. How can you easily convey to your customers what your business offers?

Customer documentation makes this possible. Let your customers know as much about your business as they can. This increases their positive experiences.

Eventually, this transforms your customers into advocates and reduces churn for your company. Meanwhile, you can easily set yourself apart from competitors as this significantly boosts your competitive advantage.

Showing a high level of transparency and willingness to empower your users is not a common thing in different industries, and this will put your company in a positive light. Your high level of patronage will be reflected in your numbers and profits.

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Building Trust through Transparency

In the business world, trust through transparency can be the changing force for your brand. Public documentation can help you foster customer loyalty.

The role of public documentation in establishing credibility

Public documentation means making a document available for public use. A great example of how public documentation helps establish credibility can be seen through the availability of technical documents for software engineers. For these documents to be available in the public space, they have been vetted and properly formatted by experts, rendering them good enough to be pushed out.

Then, other software engineers can use this to boost their knowledge, knowing that the information is as accurate as possible. This also applies to various other sectors. Public documentation is an amazing way to provide a reliable source of information for public consumption. You can establish your company’s credibility by providing your commitment to transparency through publishing your documents openly.

Customers and stakeholders will acknowledge this as they interact with your brand. Trust and confidence are intertwined. As customers gain more confidence in your company due to access to comprehensive documentation, they are more likely to trust you.

Examples of companies gaining trust through open documentation

Over time, several companies have set the pace as institutions that are built on a foundation of open documentation. A great example of a company that gains trust through open documentation is Google. Google’s online public documentation about its cloud product helps it to connect to billions of users worldwide. that is on a mission to make world information accessible to billions of people around the world. This mission is reflected in their transparency towards their consumers, even with issues pertaining to government matters.

Google cloud documentation

For every request for content removal or user data, Google provides this in detail and continues to assure users that their sensitive data is always protected. Therefore, there’s a high chance that many of Google’s users are satisfied using the product as they maintain an air of accountability and respect for user privacy. Another company that thrives through open documentation is Tesla Inc.

This automotive company openly documents its approach to building electric vehicle technology. You can find numerous Tesla technical documentation online, including details on their solar products, batteries, and manuals for using electric vehicles. The transparency of Google and Tesla Inc. fosters a community built on trust.

Tesla technical documentation

How transparency in documentation fosters customer loyalty

Transparency in documentation fosters customer loyalty as this inspires confidence in your customers. External documentation can give your users peace of mind because they can see through your public resources that they can rely on your brand. There is little chance of anxiety and uncertainty because they know what to expect and are confident in their choices.

This confidence strengthens the relationship between your brand and customers, and building relationships is a foundation for customer loyalty. At that point, customers will feel like they are a part of your company rather than an appendage for bringing money into your organization. They are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty for companies that are open about their products, services, and operations.

Also Read: Documentation for Testing: Benefits, Examples, and Best Practices

Leveraging Documentation for Business Growth

External documentation has untapped potential for business growth. Using this strategically can be a major boost for building your business beyond your imagination.

Documentation as a tool for scaling customer support

Customer support teams are a part of most organizations designated for attending to customer concerns promptly to reduce the chances of churn. However, running a customer support team can be costly and eat into your overall budget. With customer documentation, you can minimize this and use documentation as a handy tool for scaling customer support.

This means empowering your customers with all the information they need to promptly find answers and solve their problems without contacting your customer support service. You can make your users self-sufficient through detailed troubleshooting guides, blog posts, and FAQs.

These resources can also be used for onboarding new customers, as you can incorporate step-by-step instructions on best practices and the nitty-gritty of using your products. Meanwhile, this will be available at all times of the day at no extra cost to your company. This round-the-clock assistance ultimately improves the overall experience of your customers.

SEO benefits and increased organic traffic from public documentation

Improve your organization’s online ranking by taking advantage of SEO best practices. These include optimizing your public documentation with industry-related keywords that would drive your organizational content to the center of relevant conversations. This same tactic can be applied to your website, boosting its search engine ranking through organic traffic from thousands of users looking for industry-specific information.

The more detailed your public documentation, the longer users are encouraged to spend on your website, especially when the content is engaging and breaks down complex concepts easily. This will be advantageous as spending more time on your website boosts its overall SEO ranking. Another SEO practice with immense benefits is the use of backlinks. High-quality public documentation can help generate backlinks to your website, thereby driving organic traffic that enhances your website’s authority.

Turning documentation into a lead generation and conversion tool

Incorporate specific call-to-action within your concise documentation to guide users to related resources. A strategically placed CTA can be placed in a manual for a software product to redirect users to request a demo for premium features. This will generate more leads for the product’s paid version, potentially driving sales.

Another way to use call-to-action in your documentation is to request people input their email addresses to access the longer version of the document. This is a great way to build leads for more marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, documentation can be a great conversion tool as people will be able to see firsthand your expertise within the industry. People would be more willing to trust your brand when your documentation is informative and accurate.

Also, Check out our article on Documentation version control

Overcoming Challenges in Public Documentation

Although public documentation is great for knowledge sharing and transparency, it comes with its set of unique challenges. Here are a few challenges and how to overcome them.

Balancing transparency with data security and privacy concerns

As much as we would like to be transparent with relevant company information, this could be the door to breaching privacy laws on data sharing. While there’s a need for full transparency, you have to be careful not to compromise data privacy or cause disastrous data security breaches. This is the direct result of oversharing, and the consequences can be fatal, including exposing the company to huge risks.

Therefore, it’s best to implement checks to help balance transparency with data security and privacy concerns. One method is to selectively hide sensitive information within the documents so confidential data will stay hidden. You can also implement access control mechanisms where only people with authorized access can be able to view sensitive documents. Limiting this information to authorized personnel only is great for addressing privacy concerns. Meanwhile, organizations should also implement strict data privacy policies and communicate them to employees to ensure they follow these guidelines when preparing customer documentation.

Addressing the potential for misinformation and outdated content

If you publish a lot of public documentation, it will be difficult to keep track of all at the same time. Therefore, there’s a high chance that some could become outdated, thereby increasing the potential for sharing misinformation and outdated content. To address this, you need to develop a mechanism that helps you monitor all your online content and update them regularly. It starts with developing a proper process for reviewing and updating your documentation regularly.

Delegating this to specific team members will help to make this seamless since they understand their task to keep all content in the public domain accurate. One of the best ways to monitor documentation is to implement versioning where all contributors can track changes and update where necessary. Implement labels for revision history so everyone can know the latest changes and monitor accuracy. Establish a system that welcomes feedback on documentation so users can let you know when a document needs improvement.

Strategies for maintaining consistency and accuracy in a rapidly changing environment

Maintaining consistency and accuracy in a rapidly changing environment is another challenge that applies to several industries looking to localize documentation. Create a style guide that guides the process of formatting and writing your public documentation. This ensures that the tone and style across all documents stay consistent.

Meanwhile, you should welcome automation as this has the power to save you a huge amount of time and effort. A robust content management system is great for easy content creation and streamlining your documentation process to be more accurate and consistent. Encourage collaboration among your employees so different team members can work on a document simultaneously and keep it updated.

Conclusion

Public documentation is the ticket to building trust and encouraging transparency with users. Although it can seem complicated to create and maintain public documents while harnessing their numerous benefits, this becomes seamless with the right tools.

Document360 is a content management tool that incorporates several features to make public documentation a breeze. Check out this demo to get started.

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