Beyond MVD: Expanding your documentation as the product matures

If you have sized up your API and written all the docs you need for MVD, you have come a long way, but there's more. (Like software, documentation is never done.)

How-to articles are the next step

After a user is beyond the getting-started stage with an API, they need additional documentation, mostly in the form of how-to articles.

The docs will still grow steadily as the product matures, and most of the growth in API docs, other than reference, should be how-to articles. These are step-by-step articles that explain how to accomplish a particular task.

Your quickstart article might have covered the basics, but the list of how-to articles needed by your users will continue to grow as the API grows.

Why the how-to articles are important

A how-to tells your users how to accomplish a complex task, usually one that requires a series of calls made to a number of API endpoints, in the right order, and by including the right data in each request.

It's often difficult to figure out the steps needed to accomplish what you want with an API, when the only guide you have is the reference docs.

Offering the right how-to articles saves your users time and spares them the frustration of working it out on their own.

Final thoughts

Ideally, a set of how-to articles will include a body of tasks that covers what the majority of users wants to do with your API, most of the time. (Unless you have an army of technical writers, 100 percent coverage can be elusive.)

Prioritize the articles that will give the most help to the largest number of users.