Ferry Vermeulen, Instrktiv
Do you write user manuals or technical documentation? Do you often hear people emphasizing the importance of their user-friendliness?
But you hear it so often, that you actually do not know where to start looking for information about how to write user-friendly manuals yourself?
User-friendliness in technical documentation is becoming more and more important. Also, the user experience of products’ instructions is considered an important part of the customer journey.
Over the next few months, I will provide an overview of the main topics to think of when writing user-friendly documentation. Below we look at how to write a structured manual with clear texts and how to use illustrations in your manual.
How to write a structured manual with clear texts
Once you’ve gathered and selected all your task-oriented information, you can use it to produce your text. While you are doing this, it’s crucial that you keep your target audience in mind the whole time: they have to find what you’re communicating easy to understand. In general, even the product information that is already there has to be edited. Marketing materials mostly are not accurate enough and technical descriptions not easily understood by the target audience. Quite often there is no written information at all. The following links will provide you more insight into writing documentation for your audience.
Links about this topic:
- Huffman, Cindy; Working on a User-Interface Text Team: A Case Study (UXmatters)
- Meij, Hans van der; Minimalism
- Meyer, Kate; The Impact of Tone of Voice on Users (Nielsen Norman Group)
- Meyer, Kate; The Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice (Nielsen Norman Group)
- Plain Language (IEEE Professional Communication Society)
- Samuels, Jacquie; Getting Started with Topic-Based Writing (TechWhirl)
- Stellar, Martin; 5 Copywriting Tips That Can Dramatically Improve Your UX (UXmatters)
- Saylor, Stephanie; Why words matter on the UI (Medium)
- Unwalla, Mike; Plain Language in Plain English: a review (Techscribe)
- Vermeulen, Ferry; Simplified Technical English (STE): How to write clearer texts with STE (Instrktiv)
- Vizard, Linn; Tell It To Me Straight – Plain Language in UX (Adobe Creative Cloud)
- Weber, Jean Hollis; Developing a Departmental Style Guide (TechWhirl)
- What is plain language? (plainlanguagenetwork.com)
Books about this topic:
How to use illustrations in your manual
Illustrations help make the steps you’re showing much more clear than with words alone. Instructions for assembly and installation can often be replaced in their entirety by images. What’s more, illustrations make for a visually appealing manual that is more pleasant to read. The following links will provide you more insight into creating clear illustrations for your user manual.
Links about this topic:
- Gabriel-Petit, Pabini, 23 January 2006, Color Theory for Digital Displays: A Quick Reference: Part 1, uxmatters.com
- Gabriel-Petit, Pabini, 23 January 2006, Color Theory for Digital Displays: A Quick Reference: Part 2, uxmatters.com
- Gabriel-Petit, Pabini, 20 January 2007, Applying Color Theory to Digitak Displays, uxmatters.com
- Haramundanis, Katherine, 1991, The Art of Technical Documentation, chapter 5: Graphics in technical documentation
- Hulitschke, Stefan, November 2013, The technical illustrator: A new picture, tcworld e-magazine
- Professional and Technical Writing/Design/Illustrations, Photo’s and illustrations, Wikibooks
- Solidworks Composer
- Vashishtha, Samartha, February 2013, Picture Perfect: Using illustrations in technical communications, IEEE Professional Communication Society