What Should a User Guide Look Like?

Averi Easley Picture

by Averi Easley | Last Updated: Apr 10, 2023

User documentation can provide crucial information to your customers. It is important to ensure this information is up-to-date as they are generally referring to this information after the purchase of a new product and may not know how to operate the product. 

Creating user documentation can be a cumbersome process, especially if you do not have product information in a central location. Let's discuss how to create a user manual and make this an easy process.

What Is User Documentation?

If you have purchased a product online or in-store, chances are you are familiar with user documentation. According to Technical Writer HQ, user documentation “is any form of documentation intended for the end-user of a product or a service.” 

Generally, user documentation or user manuals are created for a specific product and are associated with one that requires installation or step-by-step instructions. Other terms for user documentation are user guide, user manual, owner manual, product manual, and product guide. Ultimately, the main purpose of user documentation is to provide instructions to the user on how to use the product. 

A manual (user documentation), is often provided to customers in three key ways: 

  1. A printed version located within the product packaging;
  2. A QR code label on the physical product;
  3. A  digital version available on a company’s website or within a product guide.

If you have purchased a product recently, you might have found yourself reviewing the documentation, and realized something is outdated or for a different product model entirely. This can be a frustrating experience, as you are expecting to find relevant and current information about the product you purchased. 

This scenario highlights the importance of always having up-to-date user guides/manuals for each of your products. This can be a challenging and cumbersome process, especially if all of your product information is stored in multiple Excel spreadsheets. By using a product information management (PIM) solution, you can store all of your product information in one place, and easily update this to then reflect in your user documentation.

What Should a User Guide Look Like?

Now that we understand what user documentation is and the benefits of keeping this information up to date, what should a guide look like? As discussed before, a user guide can be printed, accessed via a QR code, or provided online from the company’s website. This gives you options when choosing how to create a user document.

Begin by figuring out what specific product needs user documentation. Let’s use a lawn mower as our example and imagine we want a digital version of a user manual PDF. Next, let’s start thinking about what we want to include in the user guide. There are many important things to know about a lawn mower once this product is purchased. The customer might need to know how to assemble it, maintenance tips, important safety rules, find compatible accessories and replacement parts, troubleshooting tips, frequently asked questions, and warranty information. 

With all of this in mind, here are some user guide examples to be included in our documentation:

Now that we have everything we want to include in our user guide, it’s time to start gathering all of this information. This process may involve working with other departments to gather existing information. It can also include images that might provide additional information when reviewing the guide. Think of this documentation as an instruction manual for your customers to understand how to use the product. 

Ultimately, great user documentation provides information that is helpful and useful to the customer. 

How To Write a User Manual?

Once you decide you want to create a user manual, it is important to remember this document will be created for a specific product. You will also want to consider how your customers will be using the product. 

Does this product require assembly or installation? 

Will they need maintenance information or the recommended maintenance schedule? If so, you will want to include step-by-step instructions in the user manual, along with maintenance information. 

You will also likely want to include instructions on how to start using the product once assembled, recommended maintenance, troubleshooting tips, and any contact information for your support team. 

Once you have determined the outline of your manual, the next step is to start writing the actual content for each section. This may require working with other departments to gather current information about the product. Always keep the customer in mind, as they are ultimately the ones who will use the manual. Keep the content clear and avoid technical jargon.

How Do You Make a Good Instruction Guide?

Now that you have done all of the heavy lifting, and have all of your content ready, the next task is making a good instruction guide. A great way to deliver your user guide/owner’s manual is to provide this in a digital format and tie it to a PIM. By providing this information in a digital format, you can ensure that the customer is always accessing the latest information for this product. 

Another opportunity, when using a PIM, is to list out replacement parts and direct your customers to purchase them directly from your brand or channel partners. A great solution that is on the market today is Lumavate. Lumavate is a no-code digital experience platform (DXP) that includes a PIM solution within its suite of functionality. By using Lumavate you can store all of your product data and related digital assets in our platform by using our PIM and content management (CMS). From there, you can then create digital experiences tied to this product data. Lumavate has some of the best-in-class templates for common use cases such as product guides, product onboarding, user guides, product registration, maintenance tracking, and more.

Some of the best user manual examples are ones that provide up-to-date product information that is easily accessible by your customers.

Ready to learn more? Book a demo here

See Lumavate in Action

Meet with one of our experts to see how easy it is to centralize your product data, manage digital assets, and create digital product experiences. Trust us…you’re going to be wowed.