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4 ways to enhance product documentation for mobile first

4 ways to enhance product documentation for mobile first initially appeared as an Atlassian guest blog.

When did you last pick up your phone? Oh wait, maybe you’re reading this on your mobile right now. An increasing number of people are accessing the Internet on their phones, with smartphone ownership set to reach 2.08 billion in 2016. In the US, smartphone owners have spent more time on their phones than on their laptops since 2014. If you haven’t done so already, optimizing your business for mobile is more important than ever.

Facebook and Twitter declared their businesses to be mobile first in 2013. Many of us followed suit by building responsive interfaces and apps to make sure our products performed seamlessly on smartphones. We also wrote lots of documentation to support our mobile friendly products, but most of this somehow got left behind in “desktop land.”

Mobile first, including documentation

If your company has made the switch to a mobile-first strategy, make sure you don’t leave your product documentation behind. With 75% of US workers expected to be mobile first by 2020, your customers will need to access documentation on the go.

Perhaps they are researching how well documented your product is on their morning bus commute, or reading up on APIs while waiting for their lunch. 91% of mobile users say access to content is important, so you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to read up on product information on their phones.

Keeping these four tips in mind will ensure a seamless mobile experience for your customer.

1. Stick to one topic per page

On mobile, it’s so much easier to tap on a link rather than having to type in a search query. Help your customers quickly find answers by linking directly to the relevant page to ease navigation and minimize searching.

2. Keep each page concise

Scrolling through a lengthy page of documentation isn’t fun, especially if you have to use your thumb! When setting up your product documentation, ask yourself whether your explanation can be split into multiple pages. Try to use one concise explanation per page to minimize scrolling.

3. Use a static website

Placing your documentation on a static website, as opposed to a dynamic website, helps your customers find answers FAST. Dynamic websites, which inherently require more server resources, cannot easily take full advantage of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Hosting your documentation as simple static HTML files means a CDN can deliver a copy to your users from a server nearby, further reducing page load time.

Loading time is exaggerated when your customers are accessing documentation through their mobile network, so the faster the better. Website speed also affects your search rank, so it’s worth moving a keyword dense resource like your product documentation to a fast, static website.

4. Keep image sizes down

Don’t slow down your documentation load time with large images. Same goes for videos – video tutorials are great, but offer written documentation alongside videos as network bandwidth can be constrained. And don’t auto-play videos for a mobile audience.

A mobile optimization strategy is now essential in business, and product documentation can’t be neglected. Your customers are accessing product information on their phones, which makes a seamless mobile experience more important than ever. Following the above four tips will help you give your customers a great mobile experience.

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