Making a Manual That’s Easy to Read
Written by Joy Beachy
Whether it’s a manual explaining the elements of a software program, the details of your car, or the wardrobe with hinged doors that you purchased from that Swedish place, the key is your customer’s ability to use it. Going digital with your manual tackles three primary roadblocks to your customer’s ability to access and use it:
1. Fearing it: Manuals tend to run one of two ways: big with lots of pages, or small with tiny font and images. Either option causes potential intimidation at approaching the task at hand, either because a 25 page tome seems to big to start or because a manual requiring a magnifying glass to read is too frustrating.
2. Losing it: Once the manual is in the reader’s hands, there’s no guarantee of what happens next. Whether it gets mistakenly thrown out, misplaced, or lost in a tragic coffee spill, there’s no guarantee your intended audience will have the manual when they need it most.
3. Viewing it: Manuals may use paragraphs of text accompanied with images and arrows to show readers how to use your product, but it’s all for naught if the images are too small to see or the text too compact to understand.
Designing for screen reading means even if the manual is long, the lack of physical weight removes some of the intimidation. Designing for digital also means choosing larger fonts and images so readers can easily read your material, or zoom in on the more complicated images. Having your manual available with a click of a link means your customers can find it whenever they’re ready to view it. As a bonus to you, you save on printing and mailing costs. For you and your customers, it’s a win-win.