When you’re in business, time can seem like a finite resource. Getting things done requires a lot of your undivided attention. That said, fielding calls and emails from current and prospective customers who have questions can take up a lot of that precious time.
That’s why having online documentation is so important. A well-organized collection of articles to help people learn about your products and services can greatly cut down on the number of support and pre-sales questions you receive.
Today, we’ll take a look at the Online Product Documentation WordPress Plugin, from PressApps. It allows website anyone to easily create a documentation section.
The plugin has some handy features, including:
- Support for Categories so that you can better organize your documentation.
- Public or Members Only Voting to allow visitors to vote on whether your articles are helpful.
- Responsive Design for use on mobile devices.
- A Color Picker to help match the look of your existing website.
- Add the documentation you’ve created to existing pages or posts via a shortcode.
First, you’ll need to install the plugin. The easiest method is to take the .zip file you’ve downloaded and upload it via Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin in the WordPress Dashboard. Once the plugin is installed, be sure to Activate it.
Now that you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you’ll see a new menu item created inside WordPress called Documents.
Before we start creating documentation, though, let’s head over to Settings > PA Document and take a look at what customizations are available.
Refreshingly, Online Documentation has a super-simple settings screen. There are options for:
- Reorder: Choose whether to allow the reordering of posts and categories via a drag-and-drop interface.
- Voting: Allow documentation posts to be voted on by the public, members only or disable it altogether.
- Icon: If you allow voting, you can also choose to display an icon with it.
- Color: Use the color picker to select the color for links and category headlines.
There’s also an area where you can add Custom CSS.
The settings couldn’t have been easier. Now, let’s create some documentation!
In this example, we’ll setup documentation for a web design service (a real stretch of the imagination for me). Before we write any documentation, let’s create a couple of categories by visiting Documents > Categories on the WordPress menu.
Adding a category is exactly the same process as if you were adding blog categories under the Posts section. Simply give the category a name and click the “Add New Category” button. In this example, there will be categories called “Pre-Sales Questions” and “Customer Support“.
In your list of online documentation categories, a shortcode is provided for each category. So you can simply copy and paste these shortcodes into any page or post where you’d like to display a category’s article listing.
Now that we have some basic categories, let’s create a few articles for them. Visit Documents > Add New and you’ll be on your way in no time.
Simply write your article, give it a title and check the category you want it to appear in. The articles will have the same capabilities as any other page or post on your site. That means you can easily add media or format text in the same manner.
Ready to display your articles? The simplest way to go about it is to create a page on your website (we’ll call ours “Documentation”) and place the following shortcode inside the page: