ShipStation adds content reuse to Zendesk publishing

May 9, 2019
image shows packages waiting to be shipped

ShipStation leads the e-commerce world with their web-based software designed to make e-commerce retailers exceptionally efficient at processing, fulfilling, and shipping their orders from all the most popular marketplaces and shopping carts using all the top carriers.

Sarah Holdgrafer of ShipStation tells the story of how they decided to move to a structured authoring solution in Paligo.

The problem -unmanageable content

ShipStation was previously writing their technical documentation in Zendesk Guide directly, article by article. This was becoming very hard to manage, as documentation needs grew.

It started with being able to manage images, and updating them. Sarah Holdgrafer explains that they then started learning about topic-based authoring, content reuse, and the possibilities of structured authoring, and realized that moving towards this would make their life much easier with regard to textual content as well.

They also felt the need for proper content management. As Sarah says: “We had over 600 articles, but no content management strategy to speak of. It was unwieldy!”

At the same time, they also knew they had translation needs fast approaching, and needed a solid strategy to manage content that could also accommodate managing translation needs.

The solution – migrating to Paligo

ShipStation started the journey of evaluating software solutions for achieving these content reuse and structured authoring needs. Eventually, the choice fell on Paligo. Since topic-based authoring was new to Sarah, who was driving this evaluation, she had a lot of questions. Paligo customer success manager Steve was helping with this onboarding, and Sarah submitted many questions to support during this process, getting a lot of answers from Paligo support engineer Mike. Sarah says: “Steve and Mike were there every step of the way”.

Sarah started by taking a basic training workshop, and was up and running quickly. But after this, ShipStation hired additional technical writers, who didn’t get the benefit of the initial training, so there was a bit of a delay in getting content production up to full speed, while training the new writers and helping them accommodate to the new way of thinking about structured authoring.

Oh. My. God. This is AMAZING!
All my help center dreams are coming true!

Rewriting to fit structured authoring

ShipStation considered whether to import the content in order to speed up migration, but because the content previously had been made in a non-structured authoring environment, they decided they wanted to do it properly, and decided to rewrite the existing help content from the ground up since the existing articles did not have any specific structure to speak of.

Easy to get great content features in Paligo

ShipStation are now relying on built-in features and behaviors provided from Paligo to do things like collapsible headers (accordions), image light-boxes, and more. They published the new help centers at the end of March 2019, and with some tweaks were able to make good use of the new navigation style that the structured content afforded, adding functionality and possibilities to their Zendesk help center output. And, Sarah says, “our entire support team is ecstatic about the built in glossary feature!”

Reusing content in one single source to multiple Zendesk help centers

ShipStation has four writers on the team, where Sarah has the role of information architect, in charge of the structure and strategy, and the other writers create most of the written content. They are publishing to multiple formats, including PDF for help training our partners and major account holders, and are hoping to publish more to that output in the future. But the main benefit is being able to use the Paligo Zendesk multi-brand feature and reuse their content publishing the single-source content to multiple Zendesk help centers, in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia.

The content exists in multiple versions, and by using the batch publishing feature, they can set up pre-configured publishing targets to all these versions and Zendesk help centers.

After release, a partner in Australia immediately messaged Sarah to let her know the new help center was incredible! Sarah says, “I couldn’t have done it without Paligo!”