User Guides and Manuals
User Guides that Connect with your Customers
What do your customers need from your user guides and instruction manuals? They need content that is:
- Easy to read and answers their questions.
- Organised in a logical way, so it is easy to find specific information.
- Easy on the eye. Pages of dense text are off-putting and often difficult to follow.
- Accurate and complete. Your customers often need information about what to do when something has gone wrong, not just when things are working as expected.
As an experienced technical writer, I can make sure your user guides meet these needs. Even better, I can make your manuals work better for your business too. By using Paligo or Flare to create your user guides, I can apply content reuse features so that your content is quicker and cheaper to update in the future. (I can create manuals with other products if needed).
User Guide Problems? I Can Help.
If you need better user guides and manuals, get in touch. I’ve been creating documentation for 20 years and know how to craft content that’s easy to read, comprehensive, and really helps your customers to help themselves.
I can help you if:
- You have existing manuals that are too technical for your customers
- You need a new user guide for your product or service
- Your customers are asking for more detail in your manuals
- Your user guides need to be easier to read
- Your customers are requesting better explanations and examples in your manuals.
- You want manuals that can be converted into online content.
A Topic-Based Approach to User Guides
When you need to refer to a manual, do you read it from front to back, in order? No, of course not, and neither does anybody else (well, there may be some people that do, but they are in the minority).
Unless they are building something in sequence, such as flat-pack furniture, people only refer to the instructions when they have a problem. And when they do that, they want to dive in and find the answer to their problem, without having to read ‘earlier’ sections. So that’s how your manual needs to be structured.
I use a topic-based approach to all my writing, even with products that don’t use topics, such as Word. And each topic I write is ‘task orientated‘, i.e. it explains how to achieve a goal.
What this means is that I write each section as a stand-alone piece, so that the reader can learn how to perform a task, without needing to have read ‘earlier’ sections. Where appropriate, I include cross-references to other relevant sections, but the content in each section works on its own, so readers can ‘dip in’ as needed.
Taking your User Guides Online
If your user guides aren’t available online, I can make them available as PDFs or can convert them into a searchable online help system. It really isn’t that much extra work to create an online help. That’s the beauty of writing in a topic-based style – it makes it much easier to reuse your content in different formats.
So if you have been avoiding moving away from PDFs because web content looks too complicated, now is the time to put that right. With the right tools, it really is easy, and I can do it for you.
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