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What is Online Documentation Portal?

An online documentation portal is a web resource that hosts various online documentation a company provides. Sometimes it is also called a “support portal” meaning that this is one of the self-help technical resources.

A documentation portal usually hosts several different types of content:

  • Software documentation
  • User guides
  • Online tutorials
  • Video lessons and demonstrations
  • FAQ lists
  • Samples and how to articles
  • Knowledge bases
  • Troubleshooting guides

The resources may be public when they are available to everyone on the web without authentication. This approach also generates organic traffic from the search engines like Google or Bing. Some resources in a documentation portal may be protected with login. This approach is used when the documentation access must be provided only to the clients or partners for whatever reason. Quite often, companies combine the two approaches and provide both public and protected resources in their documentation portal.

Is it not a website?

Online documentation portal software is often a very specialized CMS – you still create and update the online content, you attract visitors that consume the content in a web browser. But this type of software makes it much easier to create software documentation and user manuals that have hundreds and thousands of topics, rather than individual web pages.

On top of the technical differences between CMS and documentation portal software, there is an important organizational difference. Unlike a web site, online documentation portal is often managed by technical writers and developers, rather than the Web Team and Marketing. As a rule, the company web site access is strictly controlled and the admins will not allow many people change the pages. For this exact reason, an online documentation portal is often implemented using a different technology and uses a different authentication system. This removes the dependency and helps the software developers update and improve the documentation as needed. Making short iterations in the documentation projects becomes much easier.

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