Restructuring Product Documentation

Aim. Restructure the webpages for product documentation based on the technical journey that administrators typically follow for installation, configuration, onboarding, and optimisation.

My Role

IA review and analysis

Discovery research

Sitemapping

Content and IA strategy

Content design

Methods

Content inventory and audit

Stakholder interviews

Content analysis of survey data

SEO analysis

Internal search log analysis

Journey mapping

Focus

Restructure the product documentation to: a.) complement the stages of the end-to-end technical journey for administrators; and b.) help customers transition and onboard to the product from common business starting points.

Problem Statement

The existing product documentation lacked a cohesive story that aligned with the processes and activities that an administrator must follow for onboarding. Instead, the documentation was organised based on the mental models of the engineers and product managers that created its features, resulting in oversaturated pages and content that can be hard to find. 

Process

 

This project began with assessing user needs, site content, and the existing navigation system. This created the foundation on which to reorganise, plan, and maintain content. The process, as whole, involved the following overlapping activities:

 

  1. Taking inventory. I located, identified, defined, and documented existing content and structure.

  2. Mapping the technical workflow. I defined the main phases of the basic journey for administrators required for the product's end-to-end installation, configuration, onboarding, and optimisation. This was a dynamic task that involved continuous validation with subject matter experts (SMEs).

  3. Auditing content. I evaluated content usefulness, accuracy, effectiveness, gaps, and opportunities, as well as potential improvements in the IA that could be made based on the administrator's technical workflow.

  4. Assessing the user need. I collated insights from stakeholders, SMEs, survey data, and information-retrieval behaviour (search analyses) to assess administrator needs and pain points that could be addressed in a restructure of the product documentation.

  5. Defining use cases. I identified, considered, and accounted for common deployment scenarios so that the product documentation could accommodate typical customer experiences of onboarding to the product.

  6. Creating an IA framework and content strategy. I created and validated iterations of a new structure for the product documentation pages in the form of sitemaps and accompanying tables of contents; I drafted a plan for implementation, governance, and validation.

Note, the images aren't intended to be readable, but to demonstrate the amount of information that was collected and dissected so that the content could be understood and reordered. 

Challenges

The main challenge arose when the company, itself, went through a major restructure during the first implementation phase of this project. This meant that SMEs and stakeholders I had been in contact and in collaboration with were not always available. New professional relationships had to be developed and this product documentation restructure effort had to take into account these company-wide changes.

Before this, one of the main difficulties -- but also a valuable outcome -- was understanding and communicating the administrator workflows, the history of the product, the roadmaps to adoption, and the relationship between this and other products. Sorting through this was one of the main (internal) outcomes.

Outcomes

The above activities were used to:

  1. Outline the administrator's context of need with:

    • The end-to-end technical workflow for getting started with the product.

    • Two other standalone workflows that played an important part in the process.

    • Three key deployment scenarios and their use cases for roadmapping the main ways in which customers use the product to meet common business needs.

  2. Understand administrator's needs and pain points based on SME interviews, content analysis of  survey data, and information-retrieval behaviour. This included:

    • The main problems that customers encounter with the product and its documentation​.

    • The recurring questions that come up for Supportability and Customer Success teams.

    • What administrators are struggling to find in the product documentation.

    • Opportunities and content gaps.

  3. Define a new proposed IA and content strategy for the product documentation. There were three main outputs, here:

    1. A sitemap to visually depict the webpages, headings, and relationships between webpages and headings.

    2. An updated table of contents that directly mapped onto the page-level elements of the sitemap. This is the primary navigation system by which site visitors make their way through the site’s IA.

    3. An implementation, governance, and validation plan for this new framework.

Feature Documentation (IX) Workflow - Frame 1 (7).jpg