10 Checkpoints for Writing User Guide

The purpose of UG is to give guidance to user. There’s no hard and fast rules in writing user guide, but below are 10 checkpoints to write a good User Guide. The essence here is to teach user to use a product completely, although User Guide is very much describing User Interface.

  1. It should have a short intro explained what is it, the concept/flow, and the problem that being solved.
  2. Every UI, window or popup must be presented in screenshot, unless it’s tabulated input.
  3. A tabulated configuration can be presented in listed form, all items must be explained.
  4. Every single UI element like button, text input and etc., must have explanation.
  5. All possible options/parameters shall have its purpose/effect explained.
  6. Any syntax oriented entry/feature must furnished with example and its possible output.
  7. Known issues must be alerted with warning.
  8. Every special condition/handling must be described in note.
  9. Any additional good to know information can be described in tips.
  10. It’s best to have a How-do-I… section to show user how to achieve certain task.

A good UX design should be able to stop user from asking how-do-I, and user guide role could also help to stop user from asking. And in case it still being asked, then the answer in steps must be incorporated and updated into the UG. When a question is being asked repeatedly, it could be tempted to create an FAQ section. However, the best approach is to improve the UX in order to stop the same question being asked again. You know, some users just don’t read that fantastic manual…

philosophy kill repeated question by writing user guide
Our philosophy is to kill a repeated question permanently to reduce technical support work, so we always try to improve our U.G. whenever possible. If you have some tips in writing user guide, do share in comment below.