The Cost of Poorly Written Technical Manuals

             

As a consumer, you can tell a lot about a product from its technical manual. How a product manual is written, and even the quality of the manual itself, speak volumes to the consumer in terms of what the consumer can expect from the product. Some companies don’t understand that their product manual writing is an extension of the brand and image that the product and company portray. Consider these examples of poorly written technical manuals and consider how these errors affect the company and product image and expectations.

Failure to highlight the most important parts

A paragraph from the technical manual for a Pentax camera states:
“[w]hen the aperture ring is set to anything other than the A (auto) position or a lens without an A position is used, the camera will not operate unless [22. Using Aperture Ring] is set to [Permitted] in the [C Custom Setting 4] menu. Refer to ‘Notes on [22. Using Aperture Ring],’ (p. 314) for details.”
Did you understand that? Now imagine you have a booklet that you have to flip through to truly understand the context. Frustrating, right? What could you do differently when preparing the document to make it easier for your user?

Too many illustrations, not enough text

Ikea adopted an illustrated strategy to sell home furnishings. The thought was that images could be seen as a worldwide language which would save Ikea from having to print every manual in several different languages. The downside to the illustration strategy is that, without words, a manual is liable to omit key steps.

Online only

To save money, some manufacturers post their technical manuals online only. Too often, because of the unlimited space that posting online offers, manuals can become incredibly long, tedious digital tech manuals. If the manufacturer omits important search functions and a table of contents, it can be nearly impossible to navigate the manual quickly.
 
With the examples listed of poorly executed concepts in writing technical manuals, and how these errors can reflect on your company or product, it’s easy to understand why avoiding mistakes in written communication is imperative in any business. To help improve your staff’s product manual writing abilities, contact  Hurley Write, Inc . We teach your staff how to avoid the pitfalls of writing technical manuals that could derail your company.