Red Hat: improving product documentation
This was a team project done in collaboration with Red Hat—an industry leading enterprise software company. The goal was to understand how Red Hat customers learn, so we can improve Red Hat’s ungated product documentation experience.

Spring 2023


4.5 months

My Role

UI/UX Designer

Table of Contents

Project Goals

  1. Solve existing pain points.
  2. Enhance the documentation experience to better assist customers seeking to learn.
  3. Produce a Figma prototype demonstrating the improved experience.
  4. Provide actionable recommendations for Red Hat's UX team to consider.

Research: understanding how their customers learn

Red Hat wanted us to investigate how their customers learn their products; they wanted to know whether Red Hat's product documentation experience needs improving. We interviewed interns, fresh graduates, and experienced developers to understand how they learn products their jobs. The interviews were composed of two parts. The first part was a traditional Q&A, and the second part—which I was in charge of—was an observational task analysis of interviewees navigating the existing experience.

Red Hat's product documentation landing page
Current product documentation landing page


Product documentation is essentially an instruction manual; it's often a developers first point of reference. Thus, it is crucial that the experience is straightforward and easy to use. We approached this project afraid that we might uncover big navigational issues with the documentation experience; however, users we observed had no problems navigating the site. They successfully found the products we ask of them, and rated the experience as rather straightforward.

We discovered that developers all have their unique approaches to learning. Less experienced developers preferred learning with different mediums (i.e. videos, podcasts, walkthroughs), but more experienced developers preferred learning through documentation only. But one thing holds true for all developers: time is of the essence.

An example user persona. A experienced developer.
Example user persona: an experienced developer
An example user/customer journey map. A experienced developer but with no Red Hat experience.
Example user/customer journey map: an experienced developer without much Red Hat experience
Prototyping: not reinventing the wheel
The design phase was guided by the following three “how might we...?” questions narrowed down from our research:
  1. How might we incorporate multimedia into product documentation?
  2. How might we show code snippets/samples relevant to the learner?
  3. How might we improve the landing page experience?
Based on the research, the existing experience didn’t need an overhaul. Users had no issues navigating the site, so it didn't make sense to make drastic changes; however, there were still opportunities for minor changes to speed up navigation, augment the experience for developers of all levels, and better guide readers. Thus, I had three goals as a UX designer during the design phase:
  1. Give users a choice on how they want to consume information. Developers learn differently, so the documentation experience should reflect it.
  2. Add the features that were repeatedly asked for during the research phase: a search bar, more code samples, and better version management.
  3. Test the ideas/implementations.
Low fidelity prototypes.
Low-fidelity prototype
Low-fidelity prototyping
Testing #1
We tested the low-fidelity prototypes with developers that had less than two years of professional experience. Our testing revealed that the new search bar sped up navigation by 20%. Developers liked the way they can quickly change the product version, and appreciated the new code samples hub.

However, the addition of a multimedia toggle, which we called “enhanced mode” at the time caused problems. The idea of the toggle was positively received, but developers struggled to find the toggle; they were also left dumbfounded by the ambiguity of "enhanced mode".
High fidelity prototypes.
High-fidelity prototype
High-fidelity prototyping
Testing #2
The second round of user testing was mostly directed at the “enhanced mode” toggle. The testing was moderated, and we worked with experienced developers (5+ years). I ran a comparative study where I showed participants three options—a dropdown menu, a checkbox, and a toggle. I had them choose their preferred implementation. Developers unanimously chose the binary toggle as the best option; They liked the toggle being named “show multimedia” instead of "enhanced mode". Testing also demonstrated that developers, regardless of experience, wanted multimedia to be shown by default. They argued that hiding multimedia as default felt like something was being taken away from them, and they would be less likely to notice that multimedia is available to them.
High fidelity mock up 
of the new documentation page. Left: multimedia hidden.
Right: multimedia shown.
Revamped documentation page (left: multimedia hidden; right: multimedia shown)
Next steps
The next logical step in this project is to employ the changes and collect quantitative data. The data will indicate whether the toggle is being used by site visitors. Due to time constraints, we never had the opportunity to explore ways to better demonstrate the link between all the Red Hat products. Currently, each product’s documentation stands independently. However, the reality is many Red Hat products are interconnected and developers may not be aware.
What I learned
Often times when I think UI/UX design, I think of redesigns and overhauls. A good metaphor would be a house makeover. However, this project was a reminder that sometimes only minor changes are needed. And as a designer I should embrace that. Small changes can still make a major difference; a small change can be the difference between a good and great experience.