We polled over 300 Technical Communicators to determine the best documentation sites on the web. If you’re looking for the best product or service documentation sites, look no further than the sites below.
The winner, Microsoft was chosen by Technical Communicators due its great search capabilities, product coverage is excellent and it’s easy to use. Microsoft Answers and their MVP program was also cited as best in class.
Interestingly, all of the top 10 are from well recognized brands. There are no small companies or surprises that we can see. And with the exception of Intel and Cisco, all of the top 10 are consumer facing. Moreover, all except Wikipedia are from software or technical companies.
This list of the top documentation sites of 2010 as ranked by Technical Communicators is a good place to start if you want to know how the best are using documentation. Yet, most of what we see is just the beginning. There’s more just around the corner. Just subscribe to this blog to learn why.
|Rank||Tech Doc Site||Cited Attributes||Powered By|
|Microsoft||· Great search ability|
· Excellent standards
· Easy to access and provide feedback
· Well organized – meets delivery demands (articles, video how-to’s, development area, and so on)
· MVP Program
|2||IBM Redbooks||• Effective use of Eclipse Info Center technology|
• Great content, easy to navigate in the website
• Deep dive information
• Excellent use of online delivery mechanisms
• One of the more comprehensive
|IBM – Redbooks|
|Apple||• Interactive assistance and guidance|
• Great FAQs
• Detailed and interesting to read
• Clear, succinct
|4||Hewlett Packard||• Accurate|
• Very detailed
• Thorough, searchable
• Ease of use
|5||Adobe||• Robust Community Help|
• Great look and feel
|6||Intuit||• Easy to access and provide feedback|
• Love the “How Do I” links from the product to help
|7||Dell||• Great decision trees|
• Convenient web site
• Easy to find, no restrictions
• Thorough, searchable
|9||Intel||• Comprehensive and well written|
• Vast amount of information
|10||Wikipedia||• Lots of info and links, easy to navigate|
• Search capabilities are strong
Notice most of the sites are built from scratch. This becomes extremely expensive for most companies and simply unattainable for Small & Medium Businesses (SMB). Moreover, the sites operate as mini-silos, meaning customer support is not connected to documentation which is not tied to community help. Forums, blogs and Wiki’s are separated but used for similar purposes. Even Microsoft has disconnected support and documentation portals.
The problem with this situation is that most of the sites above don’t allow you to globally search across each of the different documentation silos. That’s a problem. How do their customers know if the solution is located in the Wiki, the community, or the knowledge base?
MindTouch TCS is a good place to start if you want to solve the global search problem. It’s a great place to start if you want to match or beat the best documentation and support sites from the top corporations. Moreover, since it’s constantly being updated by a company dedicated to the space, you don’t need large web service departments that are constantly updating and maintaining it. Companies that maintain and build their own support and documentation sites can’t scale in the long run.
It’s too expensive even for the Fortune 500.