Documentation Usability Tips

No matter how good your product is, people won’t use it if the manual is unreadable. If you want to sell and market successfully, keep these documentation usability tips in mind.

Make it Comprehensive

A lot of times you hear that people never read the manuals. That’s true, but often the reason is they’re useless. You look at a manual and it is filled with a lot of info. However when a problem comes up, it’s not covered. Sometimes, a user wants to use a specific feature. But it is not covered by the manual or if it does, very sparingly.

The point is that if the document contains the facts, people will use them. Make sure your documents are filled with the relevant information. Among all the documentation usability tips, this is the most crucial. If the information is there, users will turn to it.

Layout Design is Key

The way the facts are presented is vital. There needs to be a table of contents. Having a glossary and a troubleshooting section is also crucial. The topics should be arranged neatly. If necessary, use illustrations. This is particularly important with hardware or computer software.

Don’t neglect the actual design. Avoid using too many fonts as it will cause confusion. Having a consistent look is essential. It gives the reader an easy time to discern the contents.

Use Language Easy to Understand

Other documentation usability tips include using the right language. With the exception of the technical specifications, the language must be plain. You can’t use technical jargon.

When explaining the features of a product, it must use clear phrases and terms. The same rule applies in the troubleshooting section. You need to remind yourself that users will look for specific information. Therefore, the contents and explanation must be clear cut.

Put Yourself in the User’s Shoes

To make efficient documents, you have to think like a user. Your clients don’t know the product as well as you do. What would they be looking for? Will they be confused by the layout?

These are some of the most important documentation usability tips. When providing samples, choose those that will be most helpful. If the product is computer software, illustrate sample activities that the user will most likely do.

Think of the possible errors that a user will make with the product. These are the things that you should put in the troubleshooting guide. Explain as clearly as possible so the user will understand what happened. If the information is lacking, it will make life more complicated for both users and the product support line.

Online Documentation

These rules apply to online help files as well. In addition, make sure that the links are all working. To reach the widest audience, use a format like pdf. You should also make sure that there are other helpful links or contact info within the help file.

These documentation usability tips are critical to your product. By making it comprehensible, the product will attract more users.

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