User Guides that Connect with Customers

Online Help Technical Writer - Craig Wright

Craig Wright

Hi, I'm an experienced online help technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. I use Paligo and MadCap Flare to create online help.

As an experienced technical writer, user guides are my bread and butter. I've written many user guides and technical manuals over the years, and if you hire me, I'll make sure your documentation is accurate, easy to read, and explains your product in terms your customers understand. Even better, if I can use Paligo or MadCap Flare, I'll also create your content so that it is quicker and cheaper to update in the future.

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 complaining about the lack of detail in your manuals
  • Your user guides are difficult to read
  • There's a lack of explanations and examples in your manuals.
  • You want to have manuals that can be easily converted into online content.
User Guide Technical Writer - Technical Manual

I've been a technical writer for 20 years and have written manuals for software, hardware, training, and working processes. In that time, I've covered lots of different types of product, from industrial software systems to pelvic floor exercise machines for women, so whatever you have, I'm sure I can document it. You can find out more about my experience on my profile page.

If you want to get your user guides underway, get in touch now by using the button below.

If you'd like to learn more about my approach to writing user guides, see:

What Makes a Good User Guide?

One of the biggest mistakes I see with user guides and manuals, especially when they are written by product experts, is that they are little more than product descriptions. “But what’s wrong with that?” I hear you say. Let me tell you.

A product manual or user guide should not be a description of all your product’s features and specifications. Yes, there is a place for that information in a manual, but a manual should explain how to use a product, not just describe it.

For example, I once worked in a software department where the existing manuals were little more than screen shots and brief descriptions of each of the settings. That’s all there was! There was no explanation of how to achieve goals or descriptions of how different parts of the interface related to each other. There wasn’t even much in the way of conceptual information, so to make any use of the documentation, you pretty much had to know how the software worked already. That’s not what your customers want or need.

User Guide Technical Writer - Task Orientated

As your user guide technical writer, I will write your content from the perspective of your customer. I'll focus on their needs and explain how to use your product to achieve real-world goals. This topic-based, task-orientated documentation will:

  • Make it easier for customers to find the information they need
  • Help customers to achieve their goals
  • Improve customers' understanding of your product or service
  • Allow customers to 'dip in' to any part of the user guide and make sense of the content
  • Promote your brand and, where possible, other products
  • Reduce your support costs, as customers will have access to information that they can relate to and understand.

If I use MadCap Flare or Paligo to create your instruction manuals, I can also take advantage of their content reuse features to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to make adjustments to your documentation in the future. This can have a dramatic effect on the cost of maintaining your user guides.

Customers Need to be able to 'Dip In' to your Manuals

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. 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.

Did you know that it is quite easy to create a searchable online help system from the same content as your manuals? If the content is created in a topic-based single-sourcing tool such as MadCap Flare or Paligo, it requires very little extra work to create a HTML5 help as well as a PDF. 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.

User Guide and Online Help? It's Easier than you Think.

Did you know that it is quite easy to create a searchable online help system from the same content as your manuals? If the content is created in a topic-based single-sourcing tool such as MadCap Flare or Paligo, it requires very little extra work to create a HTML5 help as well as a PDF. 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.

User Guide Technical Writer - Single Sourcing