documentation center's architecture

Redesigning our Docs – Part 7 – What’s next to come

This is the last article in a seven-part series of blogs that describe our most recent changes to the architecture and content of our documentation. We focus here on our next steps.

When we hit the “Deploy” button last December and went live with the redesign of our docs, we knew it was only the beginning. From completely restructuring our content to optimizing our technical stack, we had set ourselves up for a great journey. In 2019, we are committed to pushing this effort further, making sure to offer the best experience on how to leverage the power of Algolia.

For that reason, and to conclude this series, we wanted to present a preview of what’s coming next.

A UI/UX showcase to inspire

Today, with our Algolia search engine and all the tools we provide on top of it, we equip people to build the best search and discovery experience they can. Yet, there’s no single great search experience. When we dissect what makes great search, we realize it’s a subtle and thorough mix of several UI & UX elements. Once combined, they offer the end user the ability to quickly and smoothly find what they are looking for.

A great search experience goes beyond the classic autocomplete dropdown or display of basic filters. Today, let’s say you have this idea of adding a related items section to your product pages, or you want your users to browse their search history—all those kind of gems are missing from the front pages of our documentation. Worse, our docs do not provide a showcase for what they are and how to build them.

We’re truly convinced that exposing these unknown best practices in a clear and engaging manner will inspire you to build the best search and discovery experience for your end users.

Reaching out to our business users

We primarily designed our docs to address a technical audience. One of our major redesign efforts was to make sure we addressed the whole spectrum of our technical audience, from beginner to advanced levels.

However, the implementation phase of Algolia is only the beginning of your search journey. Once it’s live, you need to go back and forth with your search analytics to understand your current pitfalls, so you can take actions and fix relevance. Additionally, if you’re an e-commerce website, you’ll probably want to run merchandising campaigns and you need to know how to do that. During the research phase, we quickly understood that our audience was not only technical. We also have other profiles with different needs and expectations. In 2019, we want to address those.

Make our content speak – Interactive tools

Bringing interactivity into our docs was one of last year’s main objectives. It started in June 2018 when we shipped our interactive tutorial. Our goal was to quickly walk our new users through all the steps of an Algolia implementation, from pushing their data to building their UI.  Yet, we wanted to do that while introducing them to all the tooling we provide, and allow them to get their hands dirty, playing with our APIs.

Right after, during the summer, we also gave our users a filter syntax validator. We had realized that we receive many questions about our filters parameter. Most of the time it’s about syntax, and the error messages or limitations people encountered. We decided to add this validator directly in our docs, so that users could directly test whether their filters were correct.

Finally, we released an interactive showcase for our InstantSearch libraries. Instead of giving users a long list of widgets that InstantSearch provides, we thought it was better to directly show them the kind of interface they could build and to let them directly interact with every widget to see their purpose. While this required some extra effort on our part, it was clearly worth it, as it has since then proven to be the most popular section in our docs!

Providing more interactivity to our users is a good way to ensure they engage with our content, and have an alternative way to digest the information. We’re going to continue following that path in 2019.

Better performance

We strive to make our docs faster and more stylish. With the redesign, we started by reducing the size and memory footprint of our CSS, making styles lightning-fast to load for end users. This also makes them more scalable. This year we want to continue that optimization by reducing the size of our JavaScript and other UI scripts to make sure the first experience our readers get is as smooth and as fast as possible.

Keep supporting our Algolia teams while we add new product features

All those projects do not replace our primary mission, which is to ensure better implementations and deeper understandings, and thus more confidence in using our product. That’s the reason why we have streamlined the way external contributors can contribute to our docs, to support all our teams in the best possible way when they release a new product or feature.

We want to make sure our contributors have a seamless experience when working with us.

We need your feedback!

These projects are only a subset of what we have in mind for the full year and beyond. Our team has learned a lot on how to make this journey fun and productive. We’re going to pursue our research and work because we’re committed to making documentation match our readers’ needs. That’s why your feedback is really important to us!

If you have any thoughts, feedback, or ideas about our docs, you’re more than welcome to tell us, we’ll listen attentively. To reach out, feel free to comment on this article! You can also use our feedback form available on every page of the documentation, or send us an email at support@algolia.com.