DocNow is a documentation software that is affordable for startups, easy to set up, and has all of the basic features commonly used by technical writers including a robust search engine, article index, and single-sourcing. The app features a table of contents that enables users to organize the content structure, use the DITA text editor to format text, and a preview feature for staging articles. There is also a page tree structure for organizing pages and a page preview feature for staging a draft in live mode.
Technical writers in Canada and the US need a documentation tool that has all of the essential features needed to create and format product documentation because most documentation tools lack enough relevant features to make updating product documentation an efficient process.
DocNow is targeted towards technical writers at small startups, who want a comprehensive documentation tool, but do not have the budget for software that costs thousands of dollars. As SaaS and other tech startups grow, they need a more comprehensive documentation tool to build out their knowledge base and be able to provide customers with necessary product documentation. One common challenge mentioned by multiple technical writers is being able to efficiently update content without having to do too much “administrative work”. Oftentimes, there is one topic that is mentioned in multiple articles, which needs to be updated, but there is no way to bulk update the multiple mentions. They have to be updated individually, which is tedious and time-consuming. Other problems include resistance to adopting new software due to steep learning curves and no way to stage a draft before it goes live. Some software tools lack collaborative features, which makes getting technical reviews challenging.
User Pain Points
Using user surveys sent to technical writers in Canada and the US, the pain points can be grouped into three main themes: difficulty of applying corporate branding and formatting while updating content, a steep learning curve with more comprehensive software, and pricing deterring cost-conscious product teams. Secondary challenges include resistance to adopt new tools, technical constraints, and tedious administrative work.
80% of participants said their most common frustrations with most documentation software include 1) not having a single-sourcing feature, 2) having a steep learning curve, 3) lacking collaboration features for technical reviews. 50% of participants cited the main pain point that more comprehensive documentation tools were more tedious to install, difficult to learn, and get team members to adapt. 90% of participants said their #1 frustration with most of the software tools they have used is that it is tedious to update multiple mentions of one topic across multiple articles because there was no single-source feature.
The biggest frustration amongst most technical writers is the lack of single-sourcing features in many tools. This means that when one topic is mentioned in multiple articles, it cannot be updated simultaneously; it must be updated individually. Some other minor frustrations included a lacking search engine, no preview option for staging, and difficulty getting technical reviews through to subject matter experts (SMEs).
Landing on the Solution
Based on feedback from 20 technical writers in Canada and the US, it was clear that most of them wanted a documentation tool that has a single-sourcing feature, is easy to install and set up, and has a robust search filter. Other essential features include a staging preview mode, ability to collaborate with others, built-in versioning, and a page tree structure.
Explanation of Solution
DocNow is created to enable single-sourcing, has a robust search engine, and has staging complexity. The application can be integrated with Confluence, Zapier, and cloud solutions through the Plugins dropdown. Its collaboration feature (Review) allows users to send technical review assignments to relevant stakeholders to get feedback through the Comments dropdown. Lastly, it can finishing building complete documents within five minutes and complete installation within 10 minutes.
Since the high cost of premium documentation software is a major factor in why some teams are reluctant to invest into their documentation, I’d like to see if there’s a way to find a balance between the cost and amount of relevant features available. I’d like to learn more about the costs associated with building comprehensive software and see if I can reach a midpoint where the cost is less than $500, but the application has most, if not all of the features that most technical writers want.
Product Manager Learnings:
I’m really grateful to have been part of Co.Lab’s first cohort of PMs. It’s been a really enriching experience so far to learn about the process of how PMs approach solving a problem. My biggest takeaway from this program is the importance of focusing on the problem, not the solution and learning how to conduct a thorough analysis of the target market to understand the actual challenges. This was my first time conducting a user research survey, so I learned a lot about how to ask relevant questions to get relevant data. Lastly, I’m proud of myself for learning just enough Figma to create a basic product user interface design.