7 Ways to Make Sure Your Manuals are Utilized

Manuals are an important way to describe your products, processes, and software easily. Often viewed as unimportant or dull, an effective manual can make the difference to the success of a product or the growth of a department.

The InfoPros team has gathered the below tips to ensure your manuals are read and utilized by your customers and employees.

  1. Be concise; more words do not necessarily bring better comprehension, and more sections do not mean improved documentation. Effective content is tested and validated along with the product, process or service, and customer questions are anticipated and answered proactively. Great technical writers can help you trim down the wordiness from your manuals and improve the effectiveness.
  2. Make it appealing to the eye. You may have great content, but if it’s poorly designed, difficult to read, or disorganized, the documentation will not meet its goals. Efficient layout and presentation support great content.
  3. Useful to its specific audience. A one-size-fits-all manual may not work and can be ineffective. Technicians need one kind of documentation, casual users another. Some customers need more training and step-by-step instructions, while others need comprehensive and detailed reference information. Effective manuals deliver exactly what each type of audience needs – no more.
  4. Easy to navigate. Help your customers quickly find what they need. Different navigational principles apply to print versus an online manual. Does the print copy include a table of contents, an index, and reference pointers? Does the online copy include links, search mechanisms and related topic entries? Do both versions feature consistent layout, logical headings, “skimmable” content, and effective illustrations?
  5. Make it accessible. Make it easy, provide the manual when they need it and make it easy to find. Software and internal process manuals need to be accessible and easy to find. Hardware and manufactured products need printed documentation suitable to the environment in which the product is used.
  6. Easy to translate and reuse. Many products are sold globally. Writing for global audiences and translation requires specific techniques for reducing word count, eliminating jargon and modularizing documentation for downstream automation and management. Content often can be reused across a variety of platforms such as product support literature, user manuals, marketing presentations, web-casting, and more.
  7. Easy to update and republish. Once you’ve made the investment in quality documentation, you need to keep it current. Great documentation is designed for regular maintenance. It supports quick product release cycles, marketing and sales needs, customer service and internal training needs.

InfoPros has been serving the documentation needs of its clients since 1994. When you partner with InfoPros, you benefit from the knowledge, experience, and resources InfoPros has gained from successfully supporting the diverse needs of our clients. Contact InfoPros today, and learn more about how InfoPros provide effective manual development.