Tools versus content

Although this course has focused heavily on tools, I want to emphasize that content always trumps tooling. The content should be your primary focus, not the tools you use to publish the content.

Users don’t care about the tools you use

Once you get the tooling infrastructure in place, it should mostly take a back seat to the daily tasks of content development.

I’ve changed my doc platforms numerous times, and rarely does anyone seem to care or notice. As long as it “looks decent,” most project managers and users will focus on the content much more than the design. In some ways, the design should be invisible and unobtrusive, not foregrounding the focus on the content. In other words, the user shouldn’t be distracted by the tooling.

For the most part, users and reviewers won’t even notice all the effort behind the tools. Even when you’ve managed to single source content, loop through a custom collection, incorporate language switchers to jump from platform to platform – the feedback you’ll get is, “This sentence is incorrect.” Or, “There’s a typo here.”

Questions to consider when choosing tools

At this point, think about your requirements, your audience, and try to pick the right tools for your situation. Here are a few questions to consider as you think about the right tool for you:

  • Will developers be writing or contributing to the content?
  • Does your security group restrict you from using third-party platforms to host documentation?
  • Do you have a budget to pay a third-party platform for hosting?
  • Do you want to manage the web platform details yourself or offload this onto another group/company?
  • How many endpoints do you have to document?
  • Should you push documentation from the source into your documentation?
  • Does the documentation need be visible on the web, or does it need to be private?
  • To what extent do you want customers to have a one-stop-shopping experience – reading docs, logging support tickets, posting to forums, viewing news?
  • Do you have UX resources to help build a custom solution?
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