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What Are the Advantages of Online Documentation?

by ClickHelp — professional help authoring tool

As your business grows, the knowledge base of your company expands, and your employees might need new tools to manage it. Technical documents stored on PCs often get lost, or people just forget to share them in the common folders accessible to most users. Such a situation is typical for companies whose information is stored internally, with no access to the internet. An in-house server is often a good solution if you want to make your knowledge base manageable, accessible, and reusable. However, investing in a separate server may be a hard blow on the company’s budget. As a result, business owners often turn to online documentation tools.

What Is Online Technical Documentation?

Online technical documentation implies using software that enables your company to store, exchange, create, edit, review, and even translate documents online. The software provider stores the documents in the cloud. This solution will save you the money that you would otherwise have to spend on renting server space or investing in your own company server.

Benefits of Online Technical Documentation

The economy is not the only benefit of online software documentation tools. Practice shows that using such software will give you the following advantages:

  • The first advantage is teleworking. Your employees will now be able to work from home. This actually means working from any spot on the world map, which is especially important today, when every business has faced the problems caused by Covid-19. All your documents will be accessible to authorized users even when they work from home. At the same time, storing documents online will be like a guarantee that you will not lose important information. Besides, you will be able to always keep in touch with your colleagues, as online documentation tools allow users to exchange comments and solve issues concerning the texts they are working on.
  • This brings us to the second advantage, which is teamwork. This is hard to imagine for people who are used to working in traditional ‘intranet’ systems. Of course, this will take some time for the employees to get used to teamwork in the full sense of the word. The old intranet systems allow people to have access to some shared files, some documents are accessible to everyone, but still, this does not mean teamwork. In online documentation software, the employees can work simultaneously in the same online documentation portal. You no longer need to exchange emails if you want to clarify some issue or make a request. Neither will you have to send docs by email, as all those who are concerned will see in real-time all the changes, adjustments, and revisions of the content with the assignment of the corresponding document status. This makes the work of both the technical writer and reviewer much easier.
  • The next advantage is connected with the latest technological shift that has taken place in the electronics industry. A new tendency that is now being observed is that PCs are getting rather a ‘stand-by’ function while smartphones and iPads are becoming more and more popular. You have probably seen it in modern offices that people use mostly their gadgets (for instance, when they get work assignments on their personal email box) and turn to PCs only in special cases.

Online documentation tools guarantee accessibility from any device.

They are gadget-friendly, which makes them very convenient, especially when you need to just find a doc in online storage or read the information and make some minor adjustments. When you have to create a new doc, you will most probably turn to your PC. Anyway, the traffic of gadgets usage is now much more intense than that of PCs, which makes business owners focus on online documentation tools.

  • The last but not least advantage is monitoring. Using online documentation tools, you can monitor a wide range of parameters. For example, you can check the time the users spend on the page. If they spend too much time reading, the text might need reviewing as it can be too complicated to understand and should be simplified.

Online Technical Documentation in ClickHelp

ClickHelp provides online documentation software that meets the demands of state-of-the-art businesses that are concerned with manageability, accessibility, and reusability of their knowledge base. ClickHelp offers the following features:

  • Rich content is the first feature that will grab your attention. It allows users not only to create texts but make them more appealing to the reader by adding visuals, such as videos, screenshots, diagrams, tables, graphs, etc. This makes readers involved, as information becomes more ‘digestible.’
  • ClickHelp provides ready-made online documentation templates. They can be used to create new documents. The templates differ in terms of design and color palette. But the main thing that makes ClickHelp templates stand out is that users can choose not only the design but the layout as well. The layout means text structure: for each type of documentation, a specific structure is appropriate. Some texts should be structured as TOCs (so that you can see the structure of the content), others should be based on the ‘breadcrumbs’ principle so that the reader can move from one topic to the other. All templates are brandable. You can modify your templates so that your brand guidelines are always followed.
  • Information can be segregated on the basis of user access or authorization. You can create public documentation, or make it password-protected for sensitive information. Public documentation is good for SEO purposes. Such information will be found by search engines. You can further modify it to enhance your position in the search engine ranking. In this respect, public documentation can be viewed as a marketing tool. Password protection can be applied to documents that are intended only for authorized readers but still can be stored online so that those who are concerned can work with this information.
  • The next feature is the reusability of the information. There is such a feature as content reuse. It is essential when you have many ‘standard’ documents that are very much alike in terms of structure and content. Sometimes, standard docs, like manuals or specs, have absolutely identical parts of content. Quite often, all the difference consists in the name of the product. In this case, the quick parts feature is very useful. The repeated identical fragments can be saved as quick parts and inserted when needed.
  • Besides, ClickHelp will make updating documentation easy. Updating is closely connected with single-sourcing. For instance, you have several manuals that need to be updated. With ClickHelp, you will no longer have to make adjustments in each specific document and then check and double-check if the adjustments have been done right. You will just have to update one single-sourced piece of content, and the rest of the manuals will be updated automatically. This will ensure the uniformity of all documents.
  • Finally, ClickHelp provides the translation module. Now you can add your translation and localization work to your regular technical documentation projects.

The translation module is a good addition for those who create multi-language documentation.

With this module, you can do translation work internally (by assigning the tasks to your in-house translators) or create an outsourcing project (hire a specialist or a translation agency). The interface will look familiar to all translators who have ever worked with CAT tools (computer-aided translation). The text is divided into short segments and represented on the screen in two columns (source and target texts).

Conclusion

Online software is becoming more popular than in-house solutions. This is mostly due to working with large amounts of information. To properly maintain and manage their documents, companies switch to online documentation tools. ClickHelp makes working with documents easy by integrating many popular features. As a result, technical writers, reviewers, and translators can simultaneously work in the same portal writing, reviewing, translating, and publishing documents.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

Originally published at https://clickhelp.com.

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