Hi! Nice to see you again over here. Today we will be seeing one important and key factor when dealing with customers. Today we are talking about user guides and user documentation.
Stay here to discover why you should pay more attention to them and how to create the perfect one. Maybe you already know what a user guide is or at least you think you know it. Well as we will see now it isn’t as easy as it seems. So why don’t we start with some definitions to create some context?
If you are looking for a definition it could be the following one: User documentation is content or material that gives our users and/or customers official information that serves as a record.
In simple terms and in our context, a user guide or user documentation is content that we create to help users achieve their goals using our solutions. And this has to be the focus of said guides or documentations: helping them to achieve their goals, not ours.
Check also: What is a How-to Guide
In this blog we always take a look at mundane examples that help us understand important concepts, and this article won’t be the exception:
Believe it or not, the most basic user guide and one of the first ones we have ever been given comes from our parents. Remember when you learned to walk? Well, of course you don’t, don’t lie, you were too young. But the thing is that we were the users and the guide was something like: “Hey honey, look, first this foot and then the other one”. Did this solve any of our parents' problems? Not really. We were the focus of the solution, not them. We had to learn to walk and that guide was just our first life-guide of many yet to come.
Again, the focus is the final user. We are so used to knowing our products that we fall in love with them and become blind and we can’t see ‘How would anyone not understand it? I did it very easy!’. Well, maybe you didn’t.
Let’s now take a look at some benefits that user documentation can bring and see if they convince you.
We have said that sometimes even if you think your product is perfect and easy to follow, it most likely isn’t. Maybe you can’t do much about it but your customers keep not understanding it properly. So you need something to explain it. Just use user guides. Those will help new users to properly understand your product and exclaim a proper ‘Aaaaah, so that’s what it does’. This will save you lots of headaches trying to explain it as well as reducing your drop rate (the drop rate measures how many of your initiated users have left without even finishing their first action).
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*ding* ‘Hi I don’t know why this is happening. Can you help me?’
*ding* ‘Hey why doesn’t this work?’
*ding* ‘Hi, I don`t know how to use this, is it even useful?’
If you have a software as a service type of business you most probably have received some of these questions at any given time. Here the approach is not to hate those questions and run away from them. It’s rather the opposite: to face them properly and efficiently. Maybe you have one or two questions, but what about those who are not even asking? It will cost you more to bring them back than to retain them in the first place. That is the focus of this benefit, to be as effective (attack the problem of too many questions) and efficient (saving valuable resources like money and time).
In the example of learning to walk we had clear that we were the users and our guide creators were our parents, who would always be there for us in case we fell. Well, it would become harder for them if they had to teach thousands of kids at the same time, they would lack focus. And that’s exactly what can happen with our users. We have to make sure that every user can have access to a parent that helps them stand up in case they fall (figuratively ofc), a lighthouse that guides them in the right direction when the storm comes. This is all fantasy, but it fits well for this example. We have to guide them whenever they feel lost. Remember: they are still learning to walk.
It is actually very simple. If your customer uses your product, has doubts and solves them with your guide you will encounter a customer that will feel valued. They will feel that you understand them and what their problems are. That’s why they can subconsciously see you as their perfect pain solver, their most important tool to obtain best results. All this will contribute to a high customer satisfaction and you will be able to retain loyal customers.
As always, one of the most important steps and tips we could give is that you plan in advance. Take some time to make some definitions about what your goal will be when doing a guide, as well as defining what type of user you will be talking to, adopt their words, their slang and understand them. You should always be asking yourself: am I achieving the goal? Am I solving the problem? Am I focusing on the users?
Try to be simple and concise. Users want quick and direct responses without having to think too much. They don’t want you to explain how to solve the problem. They expect you to solve it.
You should also have in mind that you must adopt their language and which words they use. We suggest to check tools like Google Trends to find out what are the most common uses and word choices for your phrases.
Make those guides accessible, easy to find and easy to browse. Make them visible or tell them with banners or pop-up that they can always use them whenever they feel lost. Add a special section in your tool or website to collect all those guides and classify them by topics. They will appreciate it. Also try to provide them with the necessary tools, for example external links to check what you are explaining.
Remember that too much text in a simple guide can be boring and sometimes create more confusion. It is not the same to tell them: ‘Well, you have to click here, then here, then there, here again…’ just SHOW THEM. Use screenshots or self-made visuals to support your guide. Check different tools like Canva to create that type of content.
We have talked about making it accessible, but you also have to be organized. You have to give them a clear structure of what they are doing. That is why you should make step-by-step instructions so they can follow them without getting lost. Check this other article we have about standard operating procedures (SOPs) where you can learn how to properly create step-by-step guides in training sops. Also check examples of procedures and types of sop.
Creating user guides from scratch can give lots of headaches. That is why you have to choose the proper tools and solutions to create the best ones. Uphint can help you to build step-by-step guides with instant screenshots and images in seconds. You can save 93% of your time creating those guides and derive it to other activities to improve your efficiency levels. Using these kinds of tools can help you achieve your goals, and most importantly the ones of your customers and users. You can try Uphint here. Learn how it works reading step by step instructions template this will help you to know how to write a how to guide.
Imagine you have spent a lot of time on preparing and creating the perfect guide (well, maybe with Uphint (it won’t happen ;) ) and results in a failure, it doesn’t help your user and they end up having even more problems. Maybe you should have tried it out before and done some sample testing to make quick fixes and better understand if you are solving their problems properly or not.
Related to the previous one, add some features or options for users to give you feedback. Try adding some emojis with different emotions to check their satisfaction levels; try asking if the guide was useful or not; try adding a box where they can give you personal feedback or even ask more questions. The important thing is to receive information after you launched your guide to find pain points and discover new ways of improving your contents and once again solving your users’ problems.
As you can see, the world of documentation is quite broad and it is not as easy as it may sound. It is important to have good planification and time management. That is why we strongly recommend you to use Uphint and save 93% of your time creating guides like these. We will focus on the shape and form, so you can focus on creating content of great value.
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