- Dennis Lane
How Neglecting User Guides Can Sink Your Product
Updated: Mar 6
Your Software is Only as Good as Your Documentation
We've all been there. You download a new software product, eager to try it out and explore its capabilities. You open it up and...stare blankly at the screen. Where do you even begin? What does this button do? And what does that error message mean?
In that moment, you're not just frustrated - you're also starting to doubt the value of the product you just spent money on. After all, if the developers can't even explain how to use it, how good can it really be?
This is where documentation comes in. Good documentation isn't just a nice-to-have - it's an essential part of any software product. It's the key to unlocking all the value that the product has to offer, and it can be the difference between a customer who becomes a lifelong advocate and one who never uses your product again.
So why do so many software companies neglect their user guides? There are a few reasons. Some assume that their product is intuitive enough that users won't need documentation - but this is a risky assumption to make. Even the most user-friendly product can have hidden features or complicated workflows that require some guidance.
Others prioritize development over documentation, viewing user guides as a nice-to-have but non-essential part of the process. But the reality is that investing in documentation up front can save time and resources in the long run. When users have clear, concise instructions to follow, they're less likely to run into issues and less likely to need to reach out to support for help.
So what does good documentation look like? It's not just a laundry list of features and how-tos. Instead, it's user-centric, meaning it's written with the user in mind, not just the product's capabilities. It anticipates common questions and issues, and provides clear, step-by-step instructions for users to follow. It's also accessible, with multiple formats and channels for users to access it - from online help centers to in-app guides.
The good news is that even if you're not a documentation expert, there are tools and platforms that can help. One such platform is Dewstack - an all-in-one solution for creating, managing, and hosting documentation. With Dewstack, you can create beautiful, user-centric guides that help your users get the most out of your product. And with its built-in analytics and customization options, you can continuously improve your guides to better meet your users' needs.
So the next time you're tempted to overlook documentation in favor of development, remember: your software is only as good as your documentation. By investing in user guides and making them an essential part of your product development process, you can set yourself apart from the competition and create lifelong advocates for your brand.