How to Create an Online User Manual: The Comprehensive Guide

An online user manual is perhaps one of the most significant fragments of any product development process. For users to completely understand how the product functions, they seek a reference point. These manuals promote team productivity, user engagement, thereby, enhance customer satisfaction.

While mentioning digital services or products, such manuals or guides, sometimes termed as knowledge bases, are considered as the best way to explain its features. Let’s understand comprehensively how to create this user documentation or manual.


Why Online User Manuals are Needed for Any Business?

Online user manuals are the documents that businesses create for different products or services. Such documentation aims to elucidate how to utilize a particular product appropriately and safely. This is a technique that aids customer service representatives and helps brands avail amplified results. Forming a customer support team is vital in contemporary business and user guides are a feasible thing to adapt. The following are the reasons stating why manuals are needed for any business: 

  1. Offer Valuable Solutions

    When people buy a product, they will not be at all interested in anything else except learning the crucial aspects or features of that product. Dissimilar to phone calls or live chat, customers do not have to be dependent on anyone to get the data they require, and this is the charm of such manuals.

    They can merely be educated to go to the website and search for the information they want. For businesses, vending products that necessitate an installation process, a user manual is the best type of customer support documentation. This, as a result, leads to more purchases and better customer satisfaction rates.

  2. Cost-effective

    Comparing the costs of forming a users’ manual with the profits it will offer in return, exhibits how cost-effective they fairly are. Once user documentation or manual for a distinct product is created and it is placed online, the task is done. Recruiting a designer and a writer to form user documentation or manual for all of your products is not a huge investment. It becomes a lifetime investment as you do not have to prepare it all over again.

  3. Diminish Queues and Queries

    For most of the users, waiting for the consumer support team to get solutions to their queries is truly bothersome. Such waiting-time decreases customer satisfaction level. Online users’ manuals have the authority to resolve issues even before they appear, letting the users get significant information in one place. This will lessen the customer questions’ queues as well as diminish the stress of your customer service team.

  4. Lessen the Probabilities of Being Sued

    A few products that might be dangerous comprise powerful light sources, mechanical devices, high voltage electronics, heating devices, and lasers. User manual, customer support resources, can include various warning signs and the right tags in the manual to guard the consumers.

    In case of any unfortunate event, the company will not be held accountable in court, as they provided relevant warnings and instructions within their manuals, but the consumer did not read them carefully and learned how to make use of the product properly.

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How to Create an Online User Manual?

Creating effective user documentation or manual requires understanding who is going to use the product, then writing the same, keeping the users in mind. You must keep your writing simple, precise, and clear to guarantee a trouble-free customer experience. The steps to create a user manual are mentioned below:

steps to create a user manual
  1. Plan the User Manual

    a) Task Analysis

    A task analysis is a procedure of classifying and establishing the steps required to use the instrument or device. Such detailed analysis will categorize the equipment – medications, batteries, or other materials and resources needed for every step, as well as the errors, troubleshooting advice, and actions that the following steps will require.

    b) Audience Analysis

    Any user manual must be written for your audience. These individuals are the ones who purchase your products or services and read its users’ manual. Such an audience analysis will let you know who your target or main audience is and will help you in writing.

    c) Labeling and Marketing Clearance Necessities

    For an effective user manual of a product, it has to be written under the labels attached to the product directly. Also, ensure your product is officially licensed for trade before writing the customers’ manual.

    d) Coordinate With the Team

    Ask the guidance of the writer, preferably the person who has experience in writing procedures and instructions. Also, coordinate with the graphic designer to assist you to draft the apt design of the user documentation or manual.

    e) Decide Manual’s Outline

    There are numerous imperative ways in which you can rationalize your manual. You must put a bold heading at the beginning of every segment. For example, ‘Operating Your Device,’ ‘Troubleshooting’, and ‘Setting up Your Device,’ could be the sections written in bold headings.

  2. Include Crucial Information

    a) Elucidate the Product or Device

    The product description must include both a graphic depicting what the product looks like and a written explanation stating the purpose of the device. The images should appropriately label all the knobs, attachable parts, and switches that the product includes.

    b) Comprise Setup Directions

    The setup segment must contain basic data about how to use the product. If it has to be arranged or constructed by a professional, mention this fact simply at the top of the setup segment. You have to include:

    • Unpacking instructions
    • The parts list
    • Results of an improper setup
    • Whom to approach in case of any difficulty (place your contact details)
    • Warnings related to set up

    c) Arrange logically

    The online user guides or manuals must proceed in a manner that the users find most useful. Share the manual into sections or chapters that make the customers understand the product’s aims to use. Moreover, comprise a table of contents on the front of the manual so that every segment can be found rapidly. Also, details like a list of tables or figures, glossary or index, and an appendix can be beneficial for the users to search the data easily.

    d) Offer Info about Process

    This unit of the manual is the chief portion of the entire user documentation and must furnish detailed and concrete information on how to use the product. Start with the rudimentary groundwork for utilizing the product. Move further to logical and numbered stages that define how the product has to be used and what can the users expect while using it appropriately.

    e) Include Essential Warnings

    The cautionary information or general warnings must share data on probable threats. It includes that improper usage of the product could lead to serious injury or death. Such warnings ought to be put in front of the user manual. Furthermore, explicit warnings must also be encompassed in the content of the manual after or before a possibly dangerous step is proposed.

    f) Write a Product Summary

    The product summary must be placed at the end of the manual. It must be mentioned before the index to provide basic stages of the process. This has to be a stripped-down and simplified version of the operative information fragment, and must not be more than a page. Here, summarize how to use the product. Also, include numbered steps, email addresses, phone numbers, and basic warnings that are of much help to the users.

  3. Describe Product Maintenance

    a) Elucidate How to Clean and Maintain

    If your product needs cleaning, describe how to do so and numerate the supplies desired. Also, inform the users about how often they should clean. If the product has to be serviced to rectify performance problems, comprise numbered directions to do so.

    b) Disclose Storage Preferences and Troubleshooting Info

    The user documentation or manual, if needed, must include information on how to store the product correctly. You must also comprise data on why storage is essential and what are the results of inappropriate storage. You might establish a section to list common questions and their probable solutions under a heading. In this way, customers can search for exact problems speedily.

  4. Write a Comprehensible Manual

    a) Compose Numbered Directives

    Numerically written directives will help the users stay more concentrated in the procedure of connecting, building, or using the product.

    b) Usage of Standards and Active Voice

    Standardizing word choice, phrasing, and spelling will make the online instruction manuals extremely user-friendly. Moreover, the usage of active voice in writing explains everything from the end user’s viewpoint. 

    c) Keep the Content Brief

    Make reasonable breaks in every segment and put valuable information into a few sentences. And keep these sentences simple and short.

    d) Utilize Simple Vocabulary

    You must try to circumvent technical language and jargon. Also, ensure that your translations are correct if you are delivering the product overseas.

    e) Proofread and Edit

    The online user guides or manuals can lose their credibility due to spelling mistakes and grammar. Have a technical writer or co-worker proofread and edit the manual.

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Tools to Help You Create an Online User Manual

  1. KnowAll

    knowall

    KnowAll is a well-known WordPress-oriented knowledge base theme tool. It aids in furnishing their customer’s supportive guides and answers to several vital questions. The search results are demonstrated as a section of the search form and are generated immediately. In this way, it saves consumers’ a few clicks as they search for the help pages allied to their keyword of interest.

     search for the help pages
  2. Google

    Google

    Google is the most popular website in the market for ages. On platforms like Search and Gmail, billions of users get landed to use its varied services every minute. It has numerous helpful products and tools. Moreover, nearly every product has its specific user documentation or manual.

    Every common query and feedback is administered via the Google Help portal. You can also find community forums and knowledge base-style answers for feedback or questions.

  3. CloudTutorial

    CloudTutorial New

    CloudTutorial is a cloud-based platform for users, irrespective of any industry, across the globe. Dissimilar to the traditional help webpages, it is a standalone knowledge base that has distinctive features you require to assist your customers to find responses to their questions quickly.

    This tool provides quick and smart search as well as unlimited article categories. Its SEO-friendly knowledge base templates can be included in your knowledge base to deliver the best customer support experience.

  4. Ahrefs

    Ahrefs

    A remarkable SEO tool, Ahrefs, governs its documentation for manifold products with great simplicity. Help Center responds directly to the questions that users hunt for. This platform treats its whole documentation as a distinctive blog page, with comprehensive articles stating exclusive characteristics.

  5. Slack

    Slack

    Slack is one of the most prevalent communication tools that help several companies create crucial work-related discussions and conferences instantly. It offers abundant features that upsurge business effectiveness. To use Slack proficiently, Help Centre documentation is built. Thus, you can create your online user guide or manual to help users know your product exhaustively.


Writing User Manuals: Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Technical documentation of a user manual or guide is not just any random text. A good manual is extremely user-friendly and comprises clear instructions that users can find and utilize easily. Some mistakes to avoid at all costs while writing a manual are listed below: 

  • Poor blueprint
  • Vague usage of language
  • Improper structure
  • Much usage of abbreviations
  • Too complex and difficult to understand
  • Unnecessary and irrelevant content
  • Informal conversational style
  • Written in the passive voice

FAQs

When you come to know which product you own, you can find the owner’s manual online. The easiest way to look for such a manual is from their producer’s website. You can visit that site and then click on the ‘Customer Care’ or ‘Support’ segment. There you can find the option of downloading a manual.

Create an online user manual for your website by planning, deciding the critical information to include, elaborating about product maintenance, writing, testing, and keeping it up-to-date.

The user manual should include a title page, copyright page, cover page, preface, table of contents page, scope section, guide on ‘How to use’, glossary, FAQ page, contact details, and troubleshooting section.


Conclusion

The online user manual is an extremely efficient tool that supplies exceptional customer support with pertinent information and rapidly solves any issue that individuals might have. Need to know more about creating a user guide or manual?

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