Thursday, October 3, 2019

Paligo vs ClickHelp and Document360

Don't compare apples and oranges, they said. I've always wondered why. They are both fruits. Both are things you eat. And digested. And... you know where I could have gone with this...
Of course they are grown in different climatic conditions. But there are so many similarities. 

Which is why we will be comparing Apples, Oranges, and Melons. 

Let's find out which one gets the cherry on the top :)

What we are currently using

We are looking to move out of Confluence(server). I love the functionality, but it's not really an authoring tool. It's such a headache to customise something that's built for collaboration if what you really need at the end is a Knowledge base for end users.
But that's what we've been doing for the past few years. Support was becoming a real challenge (Rolls eyes). And there's a strong push from our IT team to move away from something that required so much of their effort to maintain. We had to move to a cloud solution.

The tools I considered

I'm not going into why I selected these three tools to compare. But these were the three that were left behind after I spread a wide net initially and ended up ruling out several tools along the way. I want to reiterate that this comparison is especially useful if you are moving out of confluence and are looking for an authoring and publishing tool.

I took a demo from each of these vendors. I also played around with each of these tools for a period ranging from two weeks to a month. I found Document360 to be the most easy to learn and the most intuitive. ClickHelp wasn't that difficult either. But it isn't the most intuitive. But Paligo does have a learning curve. Especially if you are used to something like Confluence. And from reviews, I understood that I was not alone

Paligo has some very interesting functionality. Imagine being able to reuse content at a step level? Imagine if the tool would prompt you about content that you have already created and suggest reuse?
But it's only an authoring tool Which means you have to fend for some place to host the content you create on Paligo. It's not a big deal. You could just host it on Amazon S3 for all you care. But we'd want to have an environment where we can not only author, but also publish content.

ClickHelp isn't very fancy. It gets things done. But nothing that really sweeps you off your feet. 

Document360 offers you both an authoring and publishing platform. If you were used to Confluence, then understanding Document360 won't be a challenge. The UI is much more intuitive than the other two tools. There are some drawbacks when it comes to functionality, but it's only a matter of time that they will be on par. Or near about there.
They also have an in-app assistant which can bring any content you create on their tool, inside your application. Another thing that I really liked about Document360 was that they offered to help us become successful in using their tool. The other two vendors basically pointed to their Professional Services teams. Even training is charged! Which is bordering the ridiculous. Even if you have a superior product, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to charge me for learning it. It's in your interest that I learn to use it! And use it well. You think about value added services only after initial value is delivered and realised. Not before. 

There's also a huge delay between responses when it comes to question and answers with ClickHelp. And I had a ton of questions. Paligo was more responsive. When the questions were many, we quickly jumped on a call. But Document 360 was the fastest to respond. They also seemed to be in a better position to oblige your requests for functionality. For example, when I checked with Paligo about when they would have a complete authoring and publishing platform. 2020 was the answer. A question to Document360 had answers which had much shorter time frames. In fact, there were a couple of features that were actually shown to me on their dev/testing platform. So their answers seemed much more realistic to me)

When it comes to pricing, no prizes for guessing who wins. Keep in mind that the incremental cost for each writer you add is the biggest in Paligo and the least in Document360. 

But here's an insight on pricing models. Something I heard from our CTO. If you truly want your users to use your product, your pricing model shouldn't say otherwise. If you determine your price by the number of authors, or the amount of content that's created, then you are inadvertently using price to restrict their ability to create content! Don't apply pricing at the point of content creation. Look at pricing at the point of content consumption. More companies would be happy to pay for content that's being used. If your pricing model restricts authors either by the number of authors, or by the volume of content, you are kind of shooting yourself in the foot. (Which is why Whatfix does not charge you by the number of authors or the amount of content.You are welcome to use our product as much as is possible. Chew on that :)

I made a list of criteria that I would use to evaluate each solution. I've listed a few below and mentioned the significance of each criteria.


  • Editor: Brownie points for WYSIWYG. Must be easy to create and manage. Must be able to go into the code view when necessary.
  • Custom Domain: Ability to use a url of your choice for example ( and not have something like your One of the deal breakers for confluence cloud.
  • Scalability: Ability to manage a large quantity of content/users/authors
  • Vector Graphics: Ability to embed clickable workflows that give you a good 'big picture. Confluence did this beautifully with their plugin.
  • Entry/Exit: Very similar to scalability, but this is about the ease of getting into and out of the tool if necessary.
  • Integrations: Many organizations would want their publishing platform to integrate with their ticketing system.
  • Translation: Because not all your users want to learn English!
  • Migration Support: When moving out of one tool into another, the support the vendor offers determines how easy or difficult it is to migrate
  • Single Source/Variables/Conditionals: Reuse, reuse, reuse
  • Internal/External content: For instances where you'd want to show different content to an internal audience as opposed to limited content to unauthenticated external users
  • Authoring/Publishing: You wouldn't want to deal with multiple vendors for each activity
  • Expand Collapse content: To progressively display information so that you don't overwhelm your users with a lot of content. The expand function in Confluence
  • Analytics: Make sure you are not only receiving information on how your content is being created, but also on how it is being used.
  • Version Control: If to err is human.then Version control is salvation. You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free :)
  • Responsive: More than 10% of our users access help using Mobile devices
  • Workflow: You'd want to have some kind of environment to host and review content before it is published. Sorely missed this in confluence.
  • Support SLAs: We had to always wait 24 hours before we received any response from the support team at confluence. Many organizations want global customers, but don't want to provide support when it is needed.  
  • Ability to collect Feedback: Again sorely missed in Confluence. Gave us only a binary yes or no kind of feedback. But for feedback to be effective, you'd want to collect user speak verbatim.
  • Find and Replace: This is a big one. The ability to quickly change stuff at a global level without having to go into each document.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Makes the solution more accessible. Improves productivity.
  • Pricing: Most bang for the buck. Look at incremental costs.
  • Notifications: The ability to watch, monitor and receive alerts when content is changed.
  • Storage Space: If you use heavy graphics and multimedia in your content, make sure you consider the amount of space they provide.
  • Single Sign On: Ensures users can use existing credentials to log in. Removes one hurdle to getting people to create content.
  • Search: What search engine is each vendor using? How much control does it give you in getting your audience to see the tree that fell in the forest?

Here's the comparison I created. Let me know if I missed anything. Or got something wrong. I did involve the vendors as well, but made several more changes

EditorWysiwyg (unstructured)Wysiwyg (structured)Mark down
(Wysiwyg RTC*)
Custom DomainSupportedSupportedSupported
Vector graphicsSupportedNot supported, (Steve
offered to look into it)
ScalabilityDifferent plans as you
ramp up authors and
XML (Best)Supported with different
Entry/ExitSomewhat.Beautiful!Supported (to evaluate)
IntegrationsPlugin with ZendeskIntegrates with ZendeskPlugin with Zendesk
TranslationOutput files need to be
translated and then
Integrates with Translation
memory or sends XLIFF
files to a TMS
Not supported
Outputs supportedSupports HTML5, PDFsimilarsimilar, Doc
Migration supportPartially supported
significant effort to clean up
Contact Professional
for customization
Very clean import.
maintained, Contact
Professional Services
for home page design, etc
Free import support
Single Sourcing/
Content Reuse
BasicAvailable at step level.
Very advanced
Not supported
PublishingIn builtNeed to purchase 3rd party
platform or use own server
In built
Expand CollapseSupportedSupportedNot out of the box
AnalyticsIn built + Google AnalyticsGA and MixpanelIn built
Version Controlarticle levelComponent levelSupported in code view as well!
Learning CurveModerateSteep learning curveEasy to use
CollaborativeBetter (has higher number
of reviewers)
Simultaneous EditsCheck in/Check outCheck in/Check outPossible
NavigationCustomizableCustomizableNo limits
Feedback mechanismThumbs up/down +
integration Disqus
possibleOut of the box +
integration with Disqus
Find and ReplaceNot retrospectivelyPowerful retrospective
search and replace
Keyboard shortcutssupportedsupportedSupported
SupportEmail (24hrs-48 hrs)Support on every plan,
SLA varies by plan
Email, phone, Zoom
Pricing~2.5k+6 authors~5k 2 authors1.2K with 5 authors**
Content Staging for review PossiblePossibleSupported
Watch/ NotificationsSupportedSupportedSupported
Storage10 GB30GB25GB (Expandable)
In-app assistantSupportedNot supportedCan display content inline
on your application
VariablesSupportedSupportedNot supported (RTC)
ConditionalsSupportedSupported Not supported (RTC)
Internal/External contentSupportedSupportedSupported
Single Sign OnSupportedSupportedNot supported (RTC)
SearchFull text searchSupports multiple options
including Algolia &
Elastic Search

* RTC (round the corner - part of roadmap, available shortly)
And which one did I select? Why? Guesses? Use the comments :)

What I particularly like about Document360

  • There's a nifty view in the admin panel that tells you about all the features that they have and how many you have actually used. Really cool way to realise how much is still left behind on the table. But the thing is - you can still do something about the features that you haven't tried out.
  • I like that we don't have to go into edit to see the article history. I also love it that they give you the ability to view differences across both the code view and the rendered view. 
  • The ability to mark an article with a 'new' badge so that it becomes easy for end users to know what content has been recently added.

Important: Document 360 is priced per project. A project can be considered a URL. If you have an external and an internal audience, then that's ideally two projects. It's not as clear as you'd hoped it would be in the pricing details, even though they do mention it's a per project cost.