Have you ever enjoyed reading a user’s manual? Or do you also think user manuals, like unintelligent army orders and government notifications, have to be dull and lifeless? Not necessarily. When user manuals are shipped with all the products every time they are sold, they need to be interesting and engaging in addition to informative and meaningful.
Manuals that are merely a translation of engineering jargon into a human language may explain specifications but are a bad read. The problem with these types of manuals is that they may explain every feature in-depth but will not provide any reason or motivation to why use those features.
How can that be done? Ask gifted writers to follow the principles of manual design and write putting life in them in the process of writing.
Users now understand the motivation for the features, as well as the value of the features. Their minds have become fertile ground for the explanation of how to use the feature (imagine the amount of awareness the web is creating and the resulting choices users have). So manuals need
to give users motivation to use a particular product for some of its features that meet users’ unique requirements.
Manuals must be introspective. They must cover the experiences. They must be written down and presented so that their readers don’t have to go through any struggle. That is the very essence of user manuals.
Additionally, manuals need to cover the tasks, not just the operation. The depth and extent of the task that must be presented will depend on a number of factors, including the expected knowledge (and don’t underestimate that) of the users and the amount of knowledge necessary for people to be able to use the application.
Last but not the least; make the manual an enjoyable and engaging read.