Are the days of the printed product manual numbered? A new generation of companies is disrupting the way people engage with the products they own. So forget everything you thought you knew about instructional design and read on.  

In the experience economy, one component in the customer journey has lagged behind: instruction manuals. Manuals, whether we’re talking the printed variety or PDF versions, are drab. They contain masses of information, some of which is crucial, much of which is not, and most of which is written in eight languages the end user does not speak. They are full of warnings which could actually detract from his or her first interaction with a new acquisition. It was about time they were catapulted into the modern age.


  • Turning a negative into a positive

The new instructional design is here and it is far more attractive and effective than the printed booklets of the past. Digital user manuals deliver crisp, clear, targeted instructions on demand. The negative factor of bombarding a busy end user with too much information has been turned into the positive of fulfilling a need. Where many people toss instruction booklets on unboxing their product, digital instructions accompany the end user throughout the product’s lifetime. In other words, instructions can be used to actually enhance the customer journey and build loyalty.

That requires a rethink on several fronts. User guides can and should be designed with the end user in mind, rather than being focused on the product. But how do you translate umpteen pages of instructions into easy-to-follow slides? What technology is needed to produce interactive digital instructions? How can they be delivered consistently across channels? How do you pilot an ambitious change like this and then scale it up? And how do you know what strategies are most effective?


  • Examining the facts

Let’s look at that last question first. Data gathered from user traffic provides a wealth of information. Companies can track usage, bounce rates and the steps where end users linger, as well as gather feedback through standardized rating systems like NPS or CES. Combine these with machine learning and predictive intelligence, and continuous improvement of the instructions is a reality.

And how do you get your instructions to the end user as quickly and easily as possible? QR codes and, increasingly, image recognition software help the end user access the right information. Instructions can be delivered through a broad range of mobile channels, including wearables like smartwatches and fabrics to allow hands-free operation.


  • Beyond consumer goods

The digital instruction technology has enormous potential in smart homes and on the factory floor. Mixed reality and augmented reality applications are particularly promising for complex instructions. Delivered by smart glasses, end users can see a diagram of the machine superimposed on the machine itself to ensure it is working correctly. Any problems can be instantly communicated to external experts for remote assistance.

But how do you integrate digital instructions smoothly and painlessly into your organization? SwipeGuide’s dedicated CMS and SaaS platform make it easy to create, update and deliver instructions the new way. We combine deep knowledge of instructional design with technological solutions that are continually being updated.

Feedback from our end users is encouraging. One company, which was already using digital customer communications, reported an increase in customer satisfaction of 15%. We expect companies still using printed manuals to achieve an increase of 30% or higher thanks to our solutions.

Is your company ready for the user guide revolution?
Companies still using printed instruction manuals can expect to achieve an increase in customer satisfaction of 30% or higher by switching to digital user guides  

Read more about ‘Deconstructing your Instructions’ here.