Are you interested in creating an outstanding instruction manual? Then, you've arrived at the right place! This blog post will teach you how to write an outstanding instruction manual. Additionally, a free template is available to assist you!
Before contacting you with questions regarding your product, one of the first things buyers do is examine the instruction manual!
The user manual should be an intrinsic element of every product experience to ensure the smoothest possible customer journey. Unfortunately, companies frequently postpone preparing these guides until the product is complete, which rarely works out effectively.
Businesses should begin planning these documents as soon as possible to capture every step and tiny issue that could become a problem in the future.
So, what are instruction manuals precisely, and how do you create them? Let us ascertain!
What is an Instruction Manual? (Definition)
An instruction manual, alternatively referred to as a “user manual,” is a critical document that assists customers in quickly becoming acquainted with your product or service or resolve an issue if they become stuck.
Almost all items, whether physical, hardware, or software, include an instruction manual to assist users in quickly becoming acquainted with their product.
However, the issue is not the worth of the user manual; as we all know, it is critical to developing one. Instead, the issue occurs when you sit down for the first time to write an instruction manual.
That is why we are going to discuss the information that should be included in your instruction manual.
What Should Your Instruction Manual Contain?
Instruction manuals are not works of fiction. Customers do not read them for recreational purposes or to pass the time! Instead, they read them to obtain actionable guidance on navigating your product or resolving an issue that arises.
Customers often scan the table of contents, locate the topic or page they're looking for, and then skim the section they're interested in. Nobody reads manuals cover to cover, but everyone reads sections of them.
This is why you must be meticulous in your authoring of this technical document. A successful user manual addresses users' questions about your product in a concise and informative manner.
The following are some user manual writing guidelines that can assist you in creating an outstanding instruction manual that your consumers are certain to find useful!
1. Your Instruction Manual's Purpose
The first step toward developing a successful handbook is to have a clear aim. Before you begin writing, you should consider the following questions: “What is the aim of developing the instruction manual?” and “What activities should be included in the instruction manual?”
Ascertain that you understand the scope of your instruction manual in order to avoid information overload or confusion.
2. Consider What You Wish to Include
To design an efficient user manual, you must first have a firm grasp on the type of content you wish to include.
Compile all necessary information, knowledge, processes, and checklists. Ascertain that you are comprehensive with each point and that you have everything necessary to write the instructions. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever rely on your memory!
Even omitting a little step may cause readers to become confused. For instance, failing to inform the reader about a critical switch on a new piece of equipment can be deceptive and dangerous.
3. Remain Conscious of Your Readers
When drafting a manual, it is necessary to consider in terms of the user. We understand that you are an expert in your product, but your customers are not.
When writing instructions, you must step outside of your own head and consider your consumer's perspective who is interacting with your product for the first time in their lives.
Assume that your readers have no prior understanding of the subject and write accordingly! You are more likely to develop an excellent handbook if you have a firm grasp of your consumers' demographics and primary use cases.
If you have the opportunity to observe a user test your product, it can assist you in determining how customers interact with it and where they get stuck or encounter issues.
4. Collaborative efforts are critical
It is not a simple effort to write these documents. You cannot take it lightly. Your consumers rely on you for assistance because they are relying on the information included in the instruction manual.
Getting assistance is an excellent approach to ensure that you do not overlook or miswrite any crucial information. Collaborate with your peers and begin working on the document collaboratively.
One person may be responsible for creating it, while others may evaluate it, assist with information organization, and produce graphic elements for the user manual.
5. Organize Yourself
Once you've determined how much material to include in the instruction manual, it's time to organize it. First, divide the manual's flow into distinct sections or segments.
Consider categorizing it based on what users might look for. Ascertain that the instruction manual follows a logical flow and covers all necessary processes in detail from beginning to end.
It is critical to organize the material to avoid reader confusion and make it an easy read.
6. Provide Detailed Instructions
After you've outlined and organized everything with a clear structure in mind, the following step is to begin writing! Keep in mind that the fundamental goal of user guides is to assist users in completing activities and resolving issues.
Thus, providing concise, direct instructions enables your clients to swiftly become acquainted with your product or resolve any concerns they may have with it. Always use numbered lists for instructions and keeping the information succinct are two excellent manual writing strategies.
7. Include a table of contents and a structure.
A table of contents is a must-have for your instruction manual. When your instruction manual is lengthy, the value of a table of contents grows tremendously. The table of contents serves as a navigation tool for the reader, allowing them to swiftly jump to a certain topic.
Because clients are not looking to read your handbook from beginning to end but rather to solve a specific problem or gain knowledge about a certain subject, including a table of contents. It helps them save time and effort.
Using a document editor that automatically generates a table of contents around headings and subheadings is an excellent way to accomplish this.
8. Supplement Your Instruction Manual with Visual Aids
Let us be honest. Instruction manuals are, to put it mildly, tedious. They are densely packed with text and are not particularly engaging. Yet, according to studies, we can make sense of a visual image in less than a tenth of a second! Additionally, pictures are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than words.
Photos and videos enhance the communication experience more than text-heavy content alone does. Incorporating how-to videos and audio instructions into your online manual can increase engagement and successfully assist customers or clients.
However, most document editors do not support the addition of video or audio to your documents. Not to fear, we've got you covered at the end of this blog with a handy way for adding audio/video material to your instruction manuals. Continue reading!
9. It's time to take a test drive!
Given the critical role an instruction manual plays in assisting users in comprehending your product, it is critical to constantly improve the user manual and strive to make it even better.
As a result, always solicit feedback and suggestions from employees, particularly those unfamiliar with the product or did not collaborate with you in developing the instruction manual.
Maxsun enables many teams in marketing, sales, human resources, technology, customer support, and design to interact, brainstorm ideas, and quickly and easily create the best-looking internal and external documents.
Because making an instruction manual is not an easy task—it requires extensive research, writing, and design to get the most out of it—we empower teams to do tasks in half the time and with greater conviction. Have a fantastic day working with Maxsun on that instruction manual!