Documentation is a vital part of your product development process, as well as your customer success strategy.
SaaS documentation is all about the onboarding instructions, API docs, troubleshooting notes, etc. that developers need to use your product efficiently.
But why do you need SaaS documentation? And what types of SaaS docs are there?👇
Why do you need great SaaS documentation?
There are many benefits of great docs for SaaS products.
For example, you can more easily onboard new users to your product with documentation that allows them to better understand your offering. This can lead to quicker user adoption.
Another benefit of great docs is the ability to provide excellent customer support. After all, comprehensive documentation is a fantastic self-service tool for users, allowing your support team to save time. Make sure your docs answer most frequently asked questions and troubleshoot issues.
Good SaaS documentation can also showcase the full capabilities of your SaaS product to potential and existing customers. You get to demonstrate features they might not be aware of, which can bring more awareness to your product.
For SaaS products with APIs, great documentation is crucial to attract and retain developers. Great docs allow devs to integrate your product into their systems and applications with ease.
With a strong SaaS documentation base, you can also improve customer satisfaction and reduce churn, which is crucial for growing your business. Make sure your users can access all the information they need easily so they don’t get frustrated and look elsewhere.
As your user base grows, it becomes harder to provide one-on-one support. So, good, well-structured docs can scale as your business grows, offering consistent support to a larger audience.
Types of SaaS documentation
There are many different types of documentation that SaaS businesses can create and maintain if they want their products to run as smoothly as possible. Here are some examples:
User manuals and guides offer step-by-step instructions on how to use a particular SaaS product. The goal is to educate end-users (in this case, developers) to use it in the most effective way possible. Manuals should be detailed and cover all key topics.
Example: Slack’s Help Center includes a large search form that allows you to search for what you’re looking for, as well as six categories for a quick pick. This user manual has everything, from basics to more advanced features, and helps users understand the product well.
This type of SaaS documentation is essential for developers, software engineers, and other technical folk. You’ll want to include elements like product specifications, data models, API info, and key technical details that users should know.
Writing for developers is a bit of an art form, as you must capture the attention of a tough audience – however, doing so comes with many benefits! So, make sure you’re communicating your complex ideas clearly.
Example: BMC, a US enterprise software company (and multinational IT services and consulting org), addresses user needs by enhancing their product documentation with expand macros and clear content overviews. This approach helps you to find answers to your questions quickly.
These docs showcase the updates in each new release of the SaaS product, and usually include information about new features, bug fixes, improvements, and known issues (as well as their solution).
Example: Github’s release notes are clearly segmented (and have dates, tags, and titles) and offer explanations of issues and features. This changelog is easy to navigate and users can quickly find everything they need!
If your SaaS product has an API, there needs to be documentation on how to use it. This is crucial because developers may want to integrate your product with other systems and software, and API docs make their life 1,000x easier.
Example: Stripe has great API reference documentation, where everything is organized and clear, with useful snippets on the right. While these docs may seem simple, that’s the point. Developers can quickly find all information without having to scour the documentation for ages (and waste lots of time).
This type of SaaS documentation provides instructions on how to solve common problems developers may have when using your product.
Example: Palo Alto’s tech docs include a troubleshooting guide that helps users to “root-cause issues that are unique to the cloud app”, which further helps them troubleshoot issues.
This explains what the code does or provides instructions for integrations, for example, allowing developers to understand and collaborate on projects better, as well as make changes to the code without introducing errors.
Example: Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides code examples that helps developers to integrate SaaS products into the AWS Marketplace APIs needed to publish and maintain the product.
These docs outline the legal agreements between the service provider and the developer, and detail how the org handles data and privacy. They also show users the rules they need to follow when using the service.
Tutorials and how-tos walk developers through specific tasks or processes in the SaaS product. They’re often task-oriented and ensure that users are getting practical, hands-on guidance, which we know devs love.
Example: Notion provides several video tutorials that offer a wealth of resources users can easily access without ever having to leave Notion. They provide information in a visual way since many people are visual learners – they also have written tutorials, which appeals to users who prefer written instructions instead.
Other types of SaaS documentation
- Quality Assurance Documentation (also known as testing documentation)outlines the processes, protocols, and procedures for testing a SaaS product.
- Quick start guides are shorter and more concise, and help developers to get started with the software swiftly. They usually cover the basics and how to perform the most common tasks.
- Training materials tend to include tutorial videos, webinars, and other educational resources, aimed at helping developers understand and use the product efficiently.
- Product specification docs provide detailed information about the technical aspects of the SaaS product, like system requirements, security features, and tech limitations.
- Installation guides give users the exact instructions needed to install the SaaS product, including any prerequisites that might be required.
There are many different types of SaaS documentation to consider, so make sure you create the right docs for your product. Think about how you can deliver the most value to developers and go from there.
Join our growing community of marketers and developers for more content, networking opportunities, and AMAs!