User Manual, Brochure, Web Content
How to recognize a poorly written user manual?
Sometimes, by reading a user manual, one can immediately understand, how important the product is to its manufacturer and how finished it is in overall. Technical writing communicates much of the secrets of the product. A manufacturer, who does not believe in his product, or is still testing the market with a prototype, before investing and finishing the product to a RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version, he will provide poorly looking user manuals with lots of deficiencies.
What are the key characteristics of a poorly written user manual?
1. Poor technical drawings (illustration). When making hasty technical writing work, one mostly uses pictures instead of drawings to explain the product. Photos can be properly edited in order to provide clear explanation about the product, but in any case it will not replace a clear linear type drawing made by professional draftsman;
2. Poor warnings and notes. Amateur technical writers care mostly about explaining the functionality of the product instead of paying attention to safety information and additional notes, which could improve user experience;
3. No highlighting on the most important things;
4. No hyperlinks in the soft copy of the user manual;
5. No or poor table of contents;
Those are just a few but most common deficiencies of a poorly written user manual, not talking about spelling errors.
How technical writing can advocate your product?
Creating a product usually takes 10-100 times more effort comparing to the preparation of the associated technical communication (user manual, brochure, web-content, etc.). Making this significantly smaller job properly can sometimes add much more value than adding another feature to the product itself. Simply, by keeping eye on the items list indicated above, might improve the product and increase the user-perceived value a lot, which results in facilitated sales and returning customer.
How does it help to sell?
Products could be separated into two quasi-groups. There are products, which are selected and bought by engineers or technicians and those, purchased by regular consumers. Sales increase, thanks to a well prepared technical communication, might be mostly expected from the first segment of customers. Long-term experience in sales of hi-tech products, like laser systems and laser electronics, tells us that in up to 60% of cases, the prospect, before taking a decision to buy a component or a product, first reaches for a user manual. That is how the customer understands and gets first impression about the product.
How does it generate returning customers?
Not like with engineers and technicians, regular consumers do not read the manuals before buying a product. Even more – they expect that the product will be easily operated without reading a manual at all. Unfortunately that is not always possible. Devices like washing machine, dishwasher, 5.1 home cinema system or smart TV – they must have an informative user manual so that a consumer could find details on automation programs, installation and maintenance. It is very important to provide this information as understandably and conveniently as possible. Next time, whenever the consumer will choose another device, he will not remember, how OK was your user manual, but he will certainly remember if your device was or was not easy to use. But everything is subconsciously related.
So pull up with your technical communication – it might be a key to success. If any help will be needed, you now where to find us…