If you want to learn how to program software for the first time would you read an outdated textbook or attend a Computer Science class? Would you go at it alone or involve your peers? Would you teach yourself or use an expert guide or teacher?
If like me you answered each question with mostly the latter and not the former then you’ll understand why most of us are frustrated with today’s product documentation sites. With few exceptions (namely the top 10 best documentation sites ), most documentation sites look more like textbooks and are written by one or two people in a voice that many of us find dry.
Worse, the documentation is mostly about features and less about user experience, tutorials and education.
It should be more about learning. Learning about your product/service/solution.
You need teachers, experts and other students educating your customers on your product. You need to create a University. A University that has a community of people teaching, learning, and discussing the subject of our product(s).
Sure you still need the textbooks, but today’s students (customers) expect more multi-media, social tools and want to connect with other people that are using your products. They want to learn about your product quicker and with expert guidance.
So build a University. Attract the best teachers and students while creating an engaging community. The rewards to the University, teacher and student are numerous including;
- The University (your corporation) collects tuition (product revenue).
- The Teacher (community experts) builds a reputation and is paid in social currency.
- The Student (customers) learn your product faster and work with other students to become product experts sooner.
Don’t know how to build a University around your products/service/solutions?
Ask me, I have the blueprints.
(Cross-posted @ the MindTouch Blog )