It could feel very frustrating to purchase an unfamiliar gadget that you need to assemble, but it doesn’t come with instructions. You can avoid this inconvenience by ensuring that each product has an instruction manual. A user documentation template can also be very helpful for employees as it contains important information about equipment or devices they need to use at work. The user guide should be user-friendly and well-crafted, as this will spell the difference between an incredible customer and employee experience and an awful one.
- 1 User Guide Templates
- 2 What is a user guide?
- 3 Step By Step User Guide Templates
- 4 Why do you need a user guide?
- 5 Preparing to write the document
- 6 Procedure Manual Templates
- 7 How do you write a user guide?
- 8 User Documentation Templates
- 9 Include Product Care Descriptions
- 10 Make Your Manual Readable
User Guide Templates
What is a user guide?
Also known as a procedure manual template, the main purpose of a user guide is to help customers use a particular service, application, or product. A technician typically writes this manual, but it can also come from the developer of the product or a customer service representative in the company. Then you would include it with the service, software, application, or product.
You can publish this either as a hard or soft copy, although most products and devices today contain both a written guide and a soft copy. For computer applications, the guide usually includes screenshots of the interface along with hardware manuals that contain simplified and clear diagrams.
Step By Step User Guide Templates
Why do you need a user guide?
It’s not enough for your product to have 5-star ratings from those who have evaluated it. The more important thing is for the customers to have the capacity to understand the product so they can use it. Providing a step-by-step user guide template will ensure that your users or customers can learn how to get the most out of the product they have purchased.
Whether it will demonstrate how to save a document, start a device, use a specific piece of equipment, or remind your customers of significant safety information, this template is an integral part of creating products.
When customers find that your product isn’t working or they can’t figure out how to use it, they will try to contact your customer service. But great user documentation is essential because:
- It will serve as a reference guide for customers.
- Customers usually call for support when they encounter an issue. But many of these customers can learn to figure out the issue themselves with this document. Then they won’t need help from your team.
- This documentation isn’t exclusively for customers as it can make the job of your employees easier too. With it, they can better help the customers when needed.
But even with the best documentation, such calls for help won’t be totally eliminated. But if you can provide comprehensive, concise, and clear guidelines, this will go a long way in reducing the number of support requests you receive.
Preparing to write the document
For a user manual to be great, it should educate people about your product while teaching them how to use it properly. If you’re the author, your main goal is for your readers to easily read, understand, and reference information. Here are some tips for you when writing this document:
Think about your audience
You must know your audience so you can optimize the instructions to match them. Create a profile of your audience. This is especially important if you’re a part of a team working together to complete the document.
Come up with a description of the issue
You have to explain the issue that needs solving, present the solution, then enumerate the instructions to attain that solution. Remember that these are the basic building blocks of a well-written user manual.
Break down the steps
If the issue you’re presenting is particularly complicated, make sure to break the steps down into smaller, easier steps. List down each of the steps with specific and detailed instructions. In doing this, the issue becomes easier to solve.
Provide good descriptions
Avoid using vague terms when writing the instructions, as this might lead to ambiguous interpretations. If you don’t know the term for something, try to identify it by searching online.
Focus on the topic of your user guide
You may add anecdotes to articles and blog posts either to explain a thought or lighten the mood. But such content isn’t appropriate in user manuals as these are official documents.
Add photos or videos
Using photos will make your instructions more interesting and easier to understand. Taking pictures is very simple and easy. You can even use your smartphone or a camera to produce good photos. When adding pictures to your manual, make sure to use direct instructions too. This will make your manual more effective.
Use or create a template
Your readers’ clarity and comprehension can improve if you standardize your manual. Consistently using the same image sizes, text orientation, and bullet-point styles will make following your manual much easier.
Don’t add unnecessary information
Providing some background information is okay, especially if you’re presenting a new product. But there, you don’t need to expound on such information. Most people won’t feel interested in reading lengthy explanations before finding the important information.
Procedure Manual Templates
How do you write a user guide?
Most of the electronic equipment we use today requires a user manual template or guide to explain how to use the product properly. The user manual is an official document that has a standard structure, and it’s written authored by someone who is closely familiar with the product. In order to write an effective manual, you should know your target audience. Then you can start writing the manual with them in mind. Then you can follow these steps for writing the document:
Organize your information logically
Your manual should progress in a manner that is most beneficial for your readers. You might have to divide the manual into sections or chapters if it’s too long. It’s also a good idea to include a table of contents so that the readers can find each section easily. If you use a lot of technical terms in the manual, explain them in the content of your manual itself.
Include important warnings
There might be instances where you need to provide details about potential threats that could occur if the reader uses the product improperly. This might cause serious injury. You should place cautionary information or general warnings at the beginning of your manual, right after the cover page. That way, the readers will see this information first.
You may also include specific warnings in the text of your manual, either before or after you introduce a step that’s potentially hazardous. If you think it’s needed, you can also include some graphics or text with different colors to differentiate the warnings from the rest of the instructions. This emphasis will draw the attention of the readers to it. It’s better to explain the importance of following the manual rather than working independently.
Provide a description of the product
The description should include an explanation about the purpose of the product and a small image that shows what the product looks like. The image should include the proper labels and names of all the parts of the products, especially if your product is an electronic device.
In the setup section, you must provide basic information about the preparations that the readers must take before they use the product. There are some cases where home users cannot set up or assemble a product. In such a case, you should clearly explain this using a bold header at the top of the section.
Provide operation information
The contents of this section comprise the main body of your user manual. This is where you provide detailed and concrete information on how to use the product. It would usually start with initial preparations for using the product, like washing hands first or plugging it in.
Next, include the steps that describe how the reader should use the product, along with feedback they can expect if they don’t use the product properly. Before concluding this section, direct the reader should to the troubleshooting section for any issues that you can’t explain quickly.
For some steps, adding images with the words can explain them more effectively. Illustrations or real-life photos will draw more attention compared to blocks of content in paragraph form. In addition to this section, you should also include any significant safety warnings about the improper operation or use of the product.
Include a summary of the product at the end
In most manuals, you can find a product summary at the end. Add this just before the index, if you have added such a section. The product summary will provide the reader with the basic steps to use the product. It’s best if you can simplify the content of the manual.
A shortened version of the operational information is the best, and it should only be 1 page. The summary will also include an explanation of how to use the product along with basic safety warnings, numbered steps on how to use the product, and contact details of people who the readers can call if they need help.
User Documentation Templates
Include Product Care Descriptions
Provide an explanation for how to clean the product
If the product or device will require regular cleaning, explain how the reader will do this. Provide a list of all the cleaning supplies the reader will need. Also, inform the reader how frequently they should clean the device. You should also include step-by-step instructions with numbers as to how they can perform the cleaning process.
There might be times when cleaning the product requires disassembly or removing certain parts. In such a case, including the details on how to perform these steps. You should also include a warning about possible consequences if the reader doesn’t clean the product regularly.
Provide descriptions for basic maintenance
For the reader to correct any performance issues on the product, they should have access to numbered instructions on how to do so. There are also certain maintenance tasks that only certified technicians can perform. You should specify in the manual which these tasks are.
State how to properly store the product
If necessary, you should also explain how to store the product properly. Include details on why the reader must store the product properly and what might happen if they don’t do this.
Include significant troubleshooting information
You should organize this information as a list. Include all of the common issues of the product and how to solve these issues. Group similar issues together, then place them under a heading so that the reader can quickly find specific issues and their corresponding solutions. You can also include the contact details of your customer support team.
Make Your Manual Readable
Use active voice
This is a writing style that provides explanations of things from a user’s perspective. This style is much easier to understand compared to using a passive voice. When you use a passive voice, you will have an undefined subject. You may use online tools to help you identify and correct passive passages in your document.
Use numbered lists for the instructions
Providing your reader with instructions that are numerically ordered will help them stay more focused. Your readers might find it difficult if they see lengthy paragraphs or several blocks of text without numbers. Instead, write the manual with simple but specific steps, each with its own number.
Begin the step with an imperative
An imperative is a verb that’s action-oriented. This means that when you start each step with a verb, you will encourage your readers to take action so they can complete each step.
Write as concisely as possible
Long paragraphs are never appealing to readers. Use several short paragraphs instead. The key is to find the logical breaks in each section, then add some useful information into short paragraphs. The same applies at the sentence levels, where you should try to keep the sentences simple and short rather than lengthy and complex. If you have a step that’s too long, break it down into smaller steps. This won’t affect the word count, but it will make the text more readable.
Proofread before you print
Like any other written work, make sure to check its spelling and grammar. Seek the help of a technical writer or a coworker to proofread your manual.