Picture the scenario. You have designed and created a fantastic new product, maybe something in the realms of technology, or home improvement. The product will soon be going to market, the packaging is in place, the patent has been obtained, it is basically all systems go. What do you have left to do? Well, if your product is to find favour with the general public, you may need to add illustrated manuals or instruction manuals to the box too.
One of the major failings with electrical and technical products, for self assembly furniture, and even, in some cases with toys and games meant for children, is that the assembly and instruction manuals are pretty useless, and led to much frustration, and, in some cases anger (come on, we’ve all seen someone throw the instructions across the room as they struggle to make sense of what it is they are supposed to be doing.) But this really doesn’t have to be the case, visual manuals can be comprehensive and helpful and make assembly and implementation simple and quick.
So if you have a product that is going to market, and need an instruction manual, what sort of things should you be looking for when it comes to design and information?
- It needs to be clear and concise.
One of the main problems with instruction and user manuals are that they are just to complicated for the user to understand, you feel like you need a masters degree in order to follow them. Keep your instructions clear and concise and make the layout neat and easy to follow.
2. Manuals need to be visual.
The best aid manuals are also the most visual. Instructions work so much better when they are accompanied by images. These can be in the form of actual photographs, or illustratory diagrams that are also clearly labelled. If you are trying to attach A to B, it helps to know what A and B are and what they look like. The best manuals have images that are clear, and by this, I mean clear enough to be seen and identified.
3. Your manual should match your product.
If the product you are bringing to market is high end, then the manual should match this, a flimsy piece of paper that you have to keep turning over cheapens your brand and the look and aesthetic you are trying to achieve. Something glossy and professional looking will only add to the lustre of your product.
4. Look at a multi lingual option.
If you want your product to be multi national, then the manual really needs to be multi lingual in order to reach your wider audience. Even if your product is meant for a domestic market, in a multi cultural society you need the pamphlet to be in a range of languages – this is especially important when it comes to technical terms.
5. Get it online
As well as producing a paper version of your manual, in the 21st century, you should also have a copy of the manual online, ideally a version that can be read online, and one that can be downloaded just in case the paper copy is misplaced.