Product manuals are important in business. Business owners often spend a lot of time and creativity coming up with great products. If they market them well, they will have customers. However if a customer gets a product and does not understand how to use it they are unlikely to become repeat customers. What makes a good product manual?
Product manuals and stress
How many times have you tried to put furniture together with a less than adequate product manual? I remember this with a flat pack desk and the initial joy of the purchase turning to stress as we spent hours trying to figure out how to put it together.
If that’s how it is with a relatively simple product, imagine how tricky it can be to have a poor product manual when it comes to very technical products.
What makes a good product manual language wise?
We live in a global and multicultural society. Online shopping means we may be ordering products from many different countries. Most of us speak perhaps language apart from our own at best and often only the most basic rudiments at that.
I love visual manuals that include images to go along with clear instructions in text. I like to cross-reference between the two. It is also a total relief when the product manual includes English instructions. It is good to see more genuinely multilingual manuals coming with the items I order online. I use the languages I speak but am also genuinely thrilled that so many languages are covered as not understanding how to use a product is frustrating and sometimes dangerous.
Lost product manuals
What I really love nowadays is that if you lose the product manual it does not mean that you have to throw away the product. This is a very good thing for me as I regularly buy second-hand goods from charity shops and all too often the instructions are missing altogether. I once bought a food mixer and was so disappointed when I had no means of using it. Not sure if it would work or not, I sent a tweet to the manufacturer. Amazingly they got back to me straightaway and sent me a copy of the instructions. We were as delighted as a family that we got to work and made a chocolate cake straightaway even though it was not a special occasion. So you could say in our house a good product manual is an excuse to eat cake!
Another issue with product manuals within a diverse society is to consider the needs of the elderly and those with special needs. Product manuals can be transformed into accessible formats including large or giant print, braille, audio, Easy Read and British Sign Language. The statistics around sight loss and hearing difficulties as we get older are daunting and there is no reason why people who have such issues should be ruled out of living a full life and enjoying products available on the market.
It is all about providing the right product manual that meets the needs of customers whether that is that some prefer illustrations to words or in the case of particular needs around age, language or disability.
How do you feel about product manuals? Do you have an amusing story to share?
What makes a good product manual in your opinion?