User manuals need to be straightforward and easy to understand by people who are reading them. It often occurs that people purchase some piece of technology or software that has a complicated setup process. This is why technical manuals are incredibly important, as the user should be easily able to set up and use the product. However, this is not always the case. Some companies perform this task poorly. These are some steps that you need to take if you want to create superb technical manuals.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
The fact that you are familiar with the product and you know how to use it does not mean that every person in the world is going to be able to do the same. It is important that you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and analyse all the points that a person might have problems with. This is going to allow you to take a look at the whole task from a different perspective, making it easier for you to create an outline.
Creating the outline
This is a necessary step, as it is going to give you an idea of what areas you are going to explain in your technical manual. An outline should contain broader categories, so do not complicate the matters during this process. Simply create a list of all the important things that the technical manual should cover. By creating some main sections and subsections, you are going to see the first hierarchy of the document that will be easy to cover and understand.
Use simple language and be brief
Chances are that you are going to know a lot about the thing you are creating the manual for. Try avoiding professional terms that the customers will not understand easily. Keep the language simple and your sentences short. This will make it easier for the reader to understand every single step that they have to take without needing additional help to analyze the message you were trying to convey.
Include illustrations appropriately
Not every instruction from the manual is easy to explain in words. Images can be of great help in this type of situation. You can rely on screenshots or simple pictures, but creating unique illustrations is going to make the image stay in the customer’s mind for much longer. Additionally, visuals are much better for learning new processes, as they offer higher retention rates for those who are looking at the manual.
Including illustrated images is a fairly easy task. Especially when you take into consideration that there are professionals to whom you can outsource this type of project. The images will make the technical manual much clearer, which will be easy for the reader to follow and remember all the important points.
Test it out
Once you have a complete technical manual with both text and eye-catching illustrations, it is important to test it out. You can rely on your friends or friends of friends to test out the created manual. This is going to allow you to see whether an average customer would easily understand the instructions that you have created.
Use the feedback from people to fine-tune the technical manual and get it ready for wider audiences. Once you have applied the changes, have another test run with as many people as possible. See if everything is easy to understand. After this, consider the illustrated manual ready for use.
These are the most important tips when you are working on creating an illustrated technical manual. Remember that images should resemble your product or software as much as possible. Combine it with straightforward pieces of text and you will have an excellent technical manual.
Isabella Foreman (www.smartphotoeditors.com) is a content writer by profession and enjoys writing on travel, photography, home improvement, and cooking. She spends her off-work time with family and travel to explore new places!