3 Tips on How to Create a Proper User Manual
Creating a good user manual can be a challenge because you need to be sure that this instruction is user-friendly and actually helps someone do something. You cannot just leave the readers guessing and trying to understand: the reason they read your user manual is to get help with no questions left.
It requires from you good technical writing and understanding of the product so before you start, ask yourself a few questions.
What are your goals and your audience?
Getting to know your audience can be a half of the battle: you get an idea what kind of information and how much of it you need to put to the manual to give them what they want.
- If you are targeting at computer technicians, you can use technological wording not worrying something can remain unclear;
- If you are targeting at hospital staff who need to know the answers on how a certain machine works. Then you use the language and terms they understand.
If you indicate your main objectives when writing the manual, it can help you make sure that you are putting into it all the right info. An outline will help you focus on where and when to give information so you will not be confused with the big scope of information and will not overload your readers with extra details.
Is your manual detailed and structural?
You should understand that this is not a novel: user manual needs to be brief but at the same time with maximum details. Too many extra words just to add content is a bad idea because the questions may be answered with a couple of sentences, that is it. Be brief and to the point and try to answer all important topics using minimum words. Usually, a standard user manual has a table of contents to help people navigate through the paper, so take it into consideration when structuring your guide.
Are you giving enough examples?
It is important to be conversational and not to use technical terms unless it is really needed for better understanding of information (for example, for a specific field like medicine). People are always getting overloaded by those words that they cannot understand so keeping it simple is good to help them find the right answers.
The best format for conversational tone is to find frequently asked questions and answer them in a manual guide. Readers have a question, you have an answer – it’s simple. And the last one tip for today but not the least one: include as many examples as you can. Using examples when explaining technical information is necessary to make it easier to understand.