I, love, internet.
Aside from the fact that it removes any limitations to communication, and hosts my favorite content, it is the biggest library ever, by far. It contains information on every subject, from academic articles to hoaxes; if we are a little picky we can find anything we’re looking for.
Businesses use this function of the internet to be with their customers at any given time, especially through online knowledge bases. They store informative and educational content on their products and services, online or physical, and make sure customers have access to these no matter what.
In this article, I want to lift the curtain to show you how these knowledge bases are created with the help of HATs, the Help Authoring Tools.
What is a Help Authoring Tool (HAT)?
A help authoring software also referred to as HAT, is a 3rd-party tool used to create online help articles. They are often utilized by technical writers and developers to create, edit, maintain, update, and collaborate on technical writings such as online user manuals and support articles. Their common functions include:
- Onboard new users by educating them on the product,
- Help in making visitors understand the value of the product,
- Create and maintain informative technical writings about the product.
Why should you use a HAT?
Any product needs an online knowledge base, for lost and/or curious users.
As users dig into your product, questions regarding the different functionalities of your platform will arise. Sometimes, the information you’ve provided during the initial onboarding process will not be enough to explain the product completely.
And if you are ever looking to create an online knowledge base full of helpful articles and technical product manuals, you can’t do without a Help Authoring Software, simply because it will save you from a mountain of work.
A HAT will enable you to work on different file formats at once, and allow you to ability to collaborate for the most efficient and quick results.
8 Technical Writing Software You Can Try in 2021
If you’ve already decided to give a Help Authoring Tool a try, simply because you need it, or just want to see how one works; I will rank the top 8 tools you can use in 2021.
1- MadCap Flare
From authoring to translating, import-exporting to analyzing the performance of your content, MadCap Flare is the #1 tool you’re looking for not only for Help Authoring, but all your content management efforts.
You can easily manage your entire content creation workflow from start to end. With it’s friendly User Interface and even friendlier and simple functions, MadCap Flare has everything to offer.
As it is with any other comprehensive product such as MadCap Flare, the only downside is that you might find yourself in a tight spot as to how it might affect your budget.
- Importing from Legacy formats,
- Technical authoring,
- Content publishing,
- Analyzing content performance.
MadCap Flare costs 149$/per month/per each user. Although a portion of companies might have a hard time allocating such budget for a HAT, MadCap Flare is certainly not overpriced; meaning it is worth every penny.
Document360 is another top-notch platform for help-authoring and knowledge management that can be a suitable choice for companies on a budget.
In terms of functions, it has everything a solid help authoring solution should have, and more. Although the help authoring features don’t miss anything, the way Document360 enables you to create stunning knowledge bases that are more beautiful than many product websites out there is certain to mesmerize you.
Document360, with its ready templates and stunning What is UX? UX is the abbreviation of User Experience and refers to an individual’s thoughts and feelings when using a specific product or a service. It aims to heal… definitely deserves a try!
- Product Help Docs
- Technical Documentation
- Online User Guides
- Internal knowledge base
- Standard Operating Procedures
Document360 starts from $49/month for 2 users and 10.000 monthly visitors, which is a great and affordable Startup package for growing businesses. The other packages are, respectively, Business package for $149/month with 5 users and 50.000 visits and the Enterprise package for $299/month with 15 users and 150.000 page visits.
Archbee is a product that also offers knowledge sites, though might not be as stunning as Document360’s.
It is completely free to start using Achbee, which is a big plus considering that newly-established startups might not even have a budget.
But what Archbee stands out in this list is definitely its user-friendly editor. It lets you collaborate with team members more smoothly than any other product on this list, while also offering an ultra-fast editor that lets you create anything you have in mind.
Guess you couldn’t expect less than a product that brag about their speed!
- Documentation sites,
- Ability to collaborate on documents,
- Developer and API docs,
- Team knowledge management,
- Custom blocks and ability to mention people.
Archbee is free to use for personal use, with unlimited docs and 2 collections. For $20/month you can get 5 seats and unlimited collections, and for the $60/month Scaling package you will get the full Archbee experience with all of its features + an additional custom domain.
4- Dr. Explain
“Dr.Explain allows you to create a user guide or technical documentation in multiple formats based on one project. It takes only a couple of clicks to export the documentation to one of these popular formats: PDF, CHM (the help file format used in Windows), Microsoft Word, or online help ready to publish on the Web.”Source.
My first impression with Dr. Explain is that – that is a one badass-looking robot!
And my second impression is that it’s great for those who are tired of subscription-based products that drain your Card every month. In terms of editor and HTML templates, it doesn’t stand up to the previous tools on the list, however, it still gets the job done.
- Desktop software,
- Help authoring,
- Document editing,
- Establishing Indexes and Structures
The regular licence for the Dr.Explain software costs $250, with on-line manuals, CHM and RTF files covered, and without any support.
The advanced licence with full-text search and tooltips, as well as command line mode and validation; costs $350.
And the Ultima license, which unlocks the ability to collaborate freely in addition to everything other packages include, costs $450.
With its MS Word-vibe, HelpNDoc is completely eligible to point out it’s perfect What is UI? A User Interface (UI) is the medium through which a user connects with the hardware or the software. When a user interacts with a hardware or a….
It has a great editor that works perfectly on Desktop, letting you author documents in an environment that doesn’t feel strange; meaning you’ll be like you have been using HelpNDoc for years.
Compared to Dr.Explain, another desktop help-authoring tool, HelpNDoc is free to start, which makes it a good alternative.
- Great UI and UX,
- Ability to create outstanding end-products in 7 formats,
- Advanced project analyzer
For personal use, with no priority support and all the features, HelpNDoc’s free package is a good way to author non-commercial help documents in a fast environment.
It’s Standard license, which costs $99, gives you the right to use HelpNDoc for commercial use and lets you access prioritized support, keeping most of the features branded still.
The Professional license provides everything HelpNDoc has to offer, while removing any branding on any document; and costing $249.
Although Author-It doesn’t promote itself as a “help-authoring tool”, its ability to help you in writing the best technical documents through Cloud can be extremely helpful in creating educational content.
Also, Author-It Software Company has another product, “Life Sciences”, a content authoring software designed especially for clinical, regulatory and medical documentation. If you’re in any of these fields, Life Sciences can be your best option.
- Create technical publications,
- Helpful in training users/employees and e-learning.
Author-it doesn’t have a fixed pricing at the moment, you can get a demo from their website to get a price for your use case.
Help+Manual claims that they’re the most simple and popular help-authoring software out there, with easy to use software and many positive reviews.
“Help+Manual is a full-featured documentation tool that is as easy to use as a word processor, yet much more powerful: it gives you the power of a true WYSIWYG XML editor and puts all the tools that you need at your fingertips.”
Based on the positive reviews and how beautiful the product looks, I agree with their claims of being powerful!
- Teamwork and multi-user editing
- Integrated Version Control
- Translation management
- Image tools and project management
Help+Manual has a 30-day free trial that you can try right now. It’s Basic edition costs around $675, and the Professional edition costs around $950.
We’re steering away from the traditional help authoring software with UserGuiding, but if your aim is product education and establishing self-help centers; tools such as UserGuiding are the future.
UserGuiding is a What is user onboarding? User onboarding is the crucial process that starts from the first login of a new user and ends up in their aha moment, and usually beyond…. software that helps you create interactive guides and in-app messages; as well as self-help centers to contain these to educate users in their initial and overall experiences.
Most help-authoring softwares only requires you to write your content, and fortunately for you, UserGuiding works on the same basis. You can create interactive guides and tooltips without any coding, just dragging and dropping.
Also, self-help centers created with UserGuiding can work efficiently as a knowledge management system for users and employees.
- Interactive user guides,
- In-app messages & tooltips,
- Self-help centers,
UserGuiding has a 14-day free-trial that you can use to see its short term effects in-person. It’s Basic plan with 2,500 MAU costs $99/month with 20 Guides, 20 Tooltips, and 2 Onboarding Checklists.
The Professional package with 20,000 MAU costs $399/month, with Unlimited guides, checklists, and tooltips.
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A help-authoring software can help you in creating and establishing a knowledge management system that helps users and employees in need.
Although documents are outdated and boring compared to interactive guides, a knowledge base is essential for products that aim to go big.