User Manuals revisited - Part 1: 'nonreaders' are actually right!

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USER MANUALS REVISITED - PART 1: 'NONREADERS' ARE ACTUALLY RIGHT!

 

...we have entered a vicious circle of — they are badly written because nobody reads them, and nobody reads them because they  are badly written

I have been meaning to write this piece for a long time as my frustration with user manuals has grown stronger and stronger. The source of this frustration is not simply knowing that most people never read manuals unless they are forced to do so when things go wrong. And even then, 64% of people and 24% of women (according to a study by Gadget Helpline based on 75,000 calls) decide to call a help center instead of opening the useless book. Wait a moment, did I just say useless? That's right! That is the reason I am often so angry with user manuals — they are, in most cases, BADLY written! Smart products, smart solutions and ... SILLY manuals. And very few people seem to care apparently — there is me and one more guy living in the mountains in North Carolina...:-) 

 

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USER MANUALS REVISITED - PART 2: IS THERE A RIGHT WAY?

 

I strongly believe there is! It's always easy and tempting to say something is wrong (as I did here) without offering a solution. With my personal quest for better manuals, I feel the solution is quite obvious and it's not rocket science. The simplest way I could put it is with two "stops": stop copy/pasting from your previous manuals and stop to think who your customers are and what they need (to know). Yes, it's so simple. Let's break it down, then.

 

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How to make users read your instruction manuals? 

How to optimize the translation process in your company? 

 

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