Content Delivery

Top 6 Considerations When Choosing a Documentation Portal

Keren Brown

Table of Content

Over the last decade, technical documentation portals have evolved significantly. Once seen as optional, they are now crucial for any tech infrastructure. Good documentation portals help users, whether they are customers, employees, or support agents, use documentation effectively. Companies realize that content must integrate seamlessly into their tech systems to achieve maximum efficiency.

The role of a docs portal in the content ecosystem

To understand the significance of a Docs portal, it's essential to grasp its position within the broader content ecosystem. Docs portals serve as a critical platform for integrating enterprise knowledge for both web and AI applications. Positioned atop the enterprise knowledge base, the portal acts as a central hub for various technical content types and sources. This infrastructure layer facilitates the efficient delivery of complex information across applications, laying the groundwork for enhanced functionality and performance.


Knowledge Governance Layer in the Content Ecosystem

Let's dive into the content ecosystem, exploring how different parts work together in a docs portal. From integrating business knowledge to using the platform for app development, each aspect is critical for better technical content delivery. In this blog, you get a clear understanding of using a docs portal in your tech setup.

Why is it difficult to choose a documentation portal?

Efficiency is key, but what it means can vary. Some want to make publishing smoother with a docs portal, while others need to bring all their content together. Scalability matters too – the portal picked now should handle growth later, like new products or more chatbots.

And as companies grow in different ways, like going global or adding new products, the portal must handle all kinds of content and channels. Plus, we can't forget about the total experience (TX), which includes both customers and employees. Lastly, AI is getting more important, so it's crucial to check if your Docs portal can handle AI and connect with other systems.

1. Omnisource, omnichannel, and the critical role of documentation portals 

When we look at creating content, it often starts with making technical documentation for new products or features. This involves using different tools and systems to manage the content. Additionally, API documentation is vital. This is particularly true for platforms that cater to API developers.

Then, we move on to providing users with learning materials and training content, including help inside the product. As users interact with the product, they might ask for help, write articles, or join discussions, adding to the content mix. A strong docs portal ensures consistent content delivery across channels like resource centers, communities, and in-product help.

TECHNICAL CONTENT ECOSYSTEM MAP

A strong docs portal connects existing tools and processes, delivering content consistently across various channels. As a result, both internal and external users benefit from a better overall user experience. Without a unified portal, users might struggle to find what they need, leading to frustration and lost productivity. 

Also, adding AI into the mix requires structured content, which a portal can provide, ensuring accurate responses. Without bringing all content together into one portal, AI searches across different places, leading to inaccuracies and slower responses. A portal brings all content together, ensuring accuracy and enforcing security measures consistently. 

When choosing a portal, it's important to consider coverage, quick setup, and future readiness. Maximizing coverage means including different formats and technical content sources and ongoing management is essential, and opting for a hosted solution can help. Finally, future-proofing the system means choosing one that can adapt to new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, and will remain effective for many years to come.

2. Documentation portal vs. CMS

When deciding between a Documentation portal and a Content Management System (CMS) for sharing documentation, team members, often from marketing and sales or IT, may question whether a docs portal is needed if they're already using a CMS. To clarify, CMSs come in different types, including traditional and headless variants. 

Traditional CMSs manage templated content, while headless CMSs offer API integrations and custom front-ends. Using APIs from an existing CMS to build a documentation portal seems feasible but has limitations. CMSs mainly manage marketing content, like HTML pages and articles, and struggle with complex content structures and hierarchical navigation.

HEADLESS CMS VS. CONTENT LAKE ARCHITECTURE

Additionally, CMS setups often lack the flexibility required for technical content entitlements, which regulate access permissions for various user groups. This is challenging for organizations with diverse access needs, such as specific segments for customers, partners, or employees.

CMSs are better for managing templated content, while portals handle various technical content formats and entitlements, ensuring tailored and secure delivery. In contrast to traditional content management systems, documentation portals powered by content lakes offer superior flexibility and scalability. They store large amounts of unstructured data in a central repository, making integration with various platforms easier.

This setup supports efficient technical content strategies with comprehensive analytics and advanced AI functions, enhancing personalization and relevance. Content lakes empower businesses to future-proof their content management approach, adapting swiftly to evolving technological landscapes.

3. Why enterprise search can't replace documentation portals

In organizational discussions, another suggestion often arises: relying solely on search functionality to fulfill documentation needs. The reasoning typically centers around leveraging existing infrastructure like community platforms, support portals, and documentation download sites. However, depending solely on search poses challenges, particularly in creating a fragmented user experience. 

Although search tools can be integrated into existing portals, retrieving search results often requires users to switch between different portals. This disrupts the interaction flow and causes context switching. The fragmentation significantly impacts user experience and diminishes the perceived value of documentation resources. To solve this, aim for a unified experience where all relevant content is accessible within a single interface.

UNIFIED SEARCH EXPERIENCE

Despite the availability of federated search solutions, many organizations find them inadequate in delivering the desired customer experience and reducing user effort. The need for a better solution, such as a Documentation portal, becomes evident to improve user satisfaction and streamline technical content access.

4. The build vs. buy dilemma

Another option often considered is building your own solution. This means using your own software developers to make a custom solution just for your organization. While it sounds good at first, there are many challenges and hidden costs to think about. Hosting, managing, and following security rules take more time and effort than you might think.

HIDDEN COSTS OF BUILDING A DOCUMENTATION PORTAL

It also requires special skills and resources to keep things running smoothly and connect with different content sources. And don't forget about understanding the content well, organizing it correctly, and making sure everything works together smoothly. 

Building a documentation portal was easier years ago, but today's expectations for AI and security make it challenging. While creating your own solution might seem appealing, consider all the costs and challenges before deciding to build.

5. Required capabilities

An effective documentation portal should guide users through their entire experience. From exploring options to becoming customers, content is crucial. 

Initially, technical information helps the prospects decide what to buy. Once they're customers, they need content to start using the product smoothly. As they continue, they'll need ongoing support and help within the product.

Throughout this journey, the Portal should make it easy for users to find what they need to solve problems and learn more. To do this well, the Portal needs certain features like organized content tags, good search tools, and strong security. It should also work well with AI to make things even better, like by personalizing content. This way, organizations can ensure their Portal provides users with a great experience, which benefits customers and the business.

6. AI-powered documentation portal

Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into documentation portals is essential. Providing users with rapid and accurate answers to their questions is a fundamental element of seamless user experiences.

AI-POWERED DOCUMENTATION EXPERIENCE

Docs portals now integrate AI features like conversational question answering and technical content summarization to meet evolving needs. These AI tools improve user experience and simplify content creation by suggesting enhancements and boosting engagement.

However, adopting AI in documentation portals requires careful consideration of accuracy and security compliance. To ensure accuracy, configure settings like keeping the temperature at zero to maintain factual content. Additionally, thorough testing is crucial to assess AI performance accurately. Ultimately, integrating AI capabilities into technical content will become increasingly important due to user expectations and business requirements. However, AI capabilities must meet security and compliance requirements.

Summary

The importance of a documentation portal cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to facilitating business growth and improving user experiences. Considering that 90% of B2B customers rely on technical content for decision-making and 70% of B2B traffic goes to technical documentation, it's obvious that a robust Docs portal is a must.

With consolidated content and a unified user experience, a Portal contributes to traffic growth, search engine optimization, and content satisfaction, thereby increasing infrastructure KPIs.

TECHNICAL CONTENT USER JOURNEY

Moreover, an effective Documentation portal leads to better support case resolution, better case deflection, and more efficient operational processes across internal teams. As organizations grow in maturity, Docs portals with AI capabilities can turn content into a powerful sales tool, generating leads, accelerating time-to-market, and generating new revenue. Various examples from companies like Ellucian and Seismic demonstrate how a tailored Portal leads to significant traffic growth and improved KPIs.

Docs portals should be evaluated based on the organization's current and future needs, ensuring that they can grow with the organization. Through an agile approach, capabilities can be gradually expanded and refined over time under the evolving business demands.

Additionally, while self-service capabilities are valuable, partnering with a vendor that offers comprehensive support and guidance throughout the implementation process is equally crucial. By collaborating closely with a trusted partner, organizations can maximize the impact of their Portals’ investment and navigate the complexities of content management effectively.





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