This Is Why Your Manuals Fail to Help Users
Let’s talk about one of life’s greatest frustrations: user manuals. Just imagine you finally buy that coffee machine you’ve had your eye on for months … what comes out of the box? An old-fashioned user manual that is of no help in starting to use the product. You browse through warnings and warranties in 8 different languages, but never find the information you need.
So what do you do? You just throw it away with the box. And when you run into problems you Google yourself insane to find a solution. When you are lucky you find the same lousy manual as a non-searchable PDF.
Our insight is that over 80% of traditional user manuals are ineffective. Research shows that over 40% of all support contact and product returns result from bad instructions. So, why are we producing manuals that fail to help users? Let’s dig a bit deeper and take a look at examples of bad instruction manuals. What are the problems with traditional manuals?
1. Not there when you need them
Getting the right support just when you need it is hard with manuals. They are there when you unbox your product, but in that ecstatic moment, you don’t want to browse and read. You want to start using the product immediately. And when you want to use advanced features or troubleshoot, the instruction manual is already long gone. Providing users with the right instructions at the right moment is a challenge when using traditional means. The SwipeGuide instruction software makes this possible.
2. Information is not task-oriented
In most cases, user manuals have a product perspective. They describe features and functionality. A user doesn’t understand this perspective. Their reference is the task they want to perform and seek a quick solution for. When the information in the instruction manual isn’t task-oriented it won’t help the user to solve the problem and they lose attention. Confusion and frustration arise and they call customer support to find answers.
3. Text instead of images
Most products have strong visual interfaces for operation. Still, when explaining how to use it, most companies use text to describe the explanation. This is strange since research shows that the brain processes images way quicker than text – 60,000 times quicker to be exact. Also, text copes with ambiguity since it is never 100% clear because there is room for interpretation. The end-user performs the task in the wrong way and might even break the device while trying. He is unhappy with the product and returns it.
4. Not up-to-date
Traditional printed instruction manuals, even in PDF format, for example, is already outdated when published. The process of creating instruction manuals is complex and keeping them up-to-date is an even bigger struggle.
Storing instructions in the Cloud takes care of a lot of maintenance issues. When using the SwipeGuide instruction software, an updated version of your instructions can be edited and published online within seconds and your end-user has access immediately.
5. No support for the user
Finally, most instructions don’t help users identify relevant information. Important additional information such as warnings, tips, and troubleshooting are often hard to find in traditional manuals – they’re hidden between the endless lines of text.
SwipeGuide uses information mapping techniques in its instructional software to make this information easier for users to find. Providing self-help information in case of potential errors or hazards helps even more. You avoid that users get stuck in the instructions and need to call a helpdesk. After-sales contact is frustrating both for companies and users. With our instruction software, you can spare time, money – and nerves.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Even worse – a bad user experience leads to pressure on customer support and product returns as well. Bad instructions are thus costly. SwipeGuide aims to be the new industry standard for user guides with a groundbreaking instructional software. We do quite a few things differently:
- We bring instructions from paper to the smartphone in your pocket; have the right user guide at your fingertips when you need it!
- We take instructions from text to multimedia – because a picture says more than a thousand words.
- We use proven instructional design principles for intelligent editing support.
Simply put: with our instructional software anyone is able to create better user manuals. And on top of that – imagine the piles of paper saved! All of this will result in a happier customer, and a happier customer costs less money and has a higher lifetime value for your company.
At SwipeGuide we are serious about instructions. We want to make life easier both for you and your users and make an end of bad instructions. Our instructional software lets you create and share user guides instantly. Users can access the manuals at the moment they actually need them on their mobile devices.
Stop your manuals from failing!
Try the SwipeGuide instructional software 30 days for free.