Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to write a manual

I've revisited this thought and started reading on how to write a manual. I am determined to hand over my manual to my husband in a few months.
Here are some steps to consider when writing a manual:

1. The ideal manual need to be consulted only once for any point or activity: Someone should be able to reash each section of the manual, say " Oh yes, I get it" and never have to read it again. This will be a difficult task since I have to repeat things and keep reminding my husband constantly about the things I like or don't.

2. The manual should be activity-centered. Pick the most basic activities and explain how to accomplish them. Make the explanations short and simple, with illustrations. Today's manuals like to explian every knob and button. Remember: People do not want to read manuals- they want to do their activity. Yes they do, sometimes to great dismay of the other person involved.  Help them get right to work, with minimum reading. I can do that, pictures and very few words are my specialty.

3. Test the manual with people chosen to match the intended user community. How do you test a manual before the product is even designed? The manual testing should be done in conjunction with the first desing tests using rapid-prototyping techniques used by the Human Centered Design team. Duh, I know that already that is the whole point in writing the manual.

4. Put legal warnings in a seperate booklet or in the Appendix. When a manual is needed, it is needed right away, and having to work one's way through pages of legal warnings only increaes the anxiety level and decreases the pleasure of the product. Mmmm, I guess he fineprint should be noted on a seperate page for easy access.

These 4 steps should provide me with enough backbone to get started.

The MAN-ual

Wouldn't life have been easier if we all came with a manual?
I think more marriages and more relationships would last if we each swapped manuals on the first date.
Imagine you fell in love with this man, things go well until you go to his house and see he leaves open containers in the refrigerator or that he has issues with you wanting to sleep on the left side of the bed.
In relationships we all have to make compromises, but what if we did not have to?
What if we could swap manuals and find the perfect partner?
Wishful thinking?
I think not
I guess it is time to start writing,