How to Write Successful Software Manuals in 6 Steps
Frustrated with software manuals that are all but impossible to understand? Then read the following checklist by Nathan Segal, a technical writer who specializes in “how-to” articles and software user manuals.
Here are six steps to ensure successful results when writing software manuals:
1. The most important step is to use a storyboard, which is a sequence of short, detailed descriptions combined with images. If there are any problems in the storyboarding process, they can be fixed here.
2. Write as if speaking to a ten year-old. This ensures more detailed descriptions, which is absolutely necessary.
3. Use plenty of illustrations, screen shots and icons, with highlighting and numbering (if necessary). Text is not enough.
4. Present all information in short sections, so the software manual resembles a slide show.
5. If the process is quite complex, consider using video. The advantage of video is the user can play it over and over again until they “get it.”
6. Test, test, and test again. All it takes is one missed step to cause the entire process to fail. If a step is missed, add in the missing piece and test the process again. If necessary, get a colleague to test the software manual process. All too often, the human mind has a tendency to “fill in the blanks.”
“A smart writer knows that you have to make content easy to understand. If you do, you’ll create a great user experience and a happy customer, one who will be loyal to you over the course of time,” said Segal.
Download the report: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Hire ANY Professional Writer at: http://nathansegal.org/report/10thingswriters.zip
Nathan Segal has been working as a technical writer since 1997. He writes software manuals, reviews and tutorials for magazines and businesses. He has written hundreds of articles for computer magazines in Canada, the United States and Great Britain. You can view his portfolio at http://nathansegal.org
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