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Is it a good idea to put user manual at website?


#1

The user manual gets shipped with our software and one can access it from within the software. I am wondering whether it might also be a good idea to make the user manual available at our website.
Two pros I can think of are:
(1) May help the search traffic a bit I presume, but, I am not sure how much.
(2) A buyer will have the option to go through the manual and get a even greater understanding of the software before making the purchase decision.

On the negative side, I wonder whether some buyers will keep using the online manual itself (instead of the copy on their machine) thereby putting some load on the web server.

Any experiences/thoughts related to this?

Thanks!


#2

The SEO benefits outweigh any server load that results from users reading it online. Assuming you have the manual as a set of static html files, the load would be negligible

We are now used to using google as the starting point for any content search we have and even without the SEO benefit, accessing it online would be much easier for your customers than having it as a pdf file (or worse if its an html file) on their machines.


#3

For sure, put it on your website. A modern web server will barely register the increased load.

You’ll get:

A) better Google visibility
b) reduced support requests, as people are better able to find answers online


#4

One more benefit of having user manual online, is that it makes things easier for customer support: we often give links to a page in online user manual, like “for more information about the feature please visit this page [link]”. Very convenient.


#5

The user manual is currently a few html files with associated images. By chance, does anybody know of a convenient way to make such a manual available available on a Wordpress based website? The software and the manual get updated on a quite regular basis. So, a process that requires editing of Wordpress pages won’t be ideal.

Thanks!


#6

I use Manula to manage my user guide. I’m happy with it.


#7

Have you considered moving the manual out of your application and instead in your application having a link to the manual on your site? This way you only have one place to update and you can update it as needed without a software release.

Not knowing the level of customer support you receive (or your target customers, some have different expectations) it’s hard to recommend a specific method to manage an online manual. If you get support requests I’d highly recommend a knowledge based approach, where you have main help articles, but also build up new articles based on frequent requests. There are other benefits of a system like this such as searching and analysis capabilities (knowing what people look for help on the most can provide valuable product feedback).

It doesn’t sound like you have a huge need for a robust system, but even going with just online help in a Wordpress article gives you feedback (via visit count) and has SEO benefits as others have mentioned.

Hope this was helpful.


#8

Your prices are wrong if load on your web server are a consideration for this


#9

Our customers NEVER use the help file.
Granted, my customers are non technical and half are over 65.

Are you sure your customers are even using the help file?

Unsolicited Advice
Do you think this is your #1 priority?
(I ask b/c in the past I have gotten very distracted with little details b/c I didn’t know what your #1 priority was. I.e., Imagine that your sales funnel is a bunch of pools feeding into each other. Where’s your biggest leak?)


#10

If you break out the user manual into multiple pages for topics/problems, you’ll get both an SEO win and a UX win.

People don’t want to read through a user manual to find a solution, but you could include links on a particular page to help documents relevant to that issues users will have in a particular place in your app.

A specific example: In Planio, in a dropdown menu on the Agile board page, we added links to a tutorial on getting started with the Agile board. On the repository page, you’ll find links to setting up Eclipse with Planio git repos.

Since we did this, we’ve noticed an uptick in visitors to those tutorials, which should, in theory, help with user onboarding and retention.


#11

Great point Thomas. To take it a step further in-depth blog posts about how your app works and how it solves problems can be linked to in app. Now you’re writing a manual and blog/sales content in one go. This is something we just started, not enough content like this on our blog yet to determine it’s success, but we do know they’ve been helpful for sales and SEO.


#12

The online user manual helped me to increase sales by 2-3 times, also it helped for SEO. You should do it.
Load web server - it is a very small load, not a problem at all.
You may discover new unexpected SEO keywords after publishing the tutorial