Your how-to guide’s goal should be to address a problem for its reader, so when writing the actual guide it is essential that its contents meet this goal accurately and satisfy reader needs.
Whoever searches out how-to guides is looking to expand their knowledge and acquire something new. Keep this in mind when creating guides, and include visual aids whenever possible.
Focus on the reader
How-to guides are instructional documents that outline step-by-step procedures on how to complete certain tasks, providing step-by-step instructions and advice. They’re an effective way of sharing knowledge among customers and employees alike – from entry level workers up to managers.
Focusing on your readers when creating a how-to guide requires using clear language that’s easily understandable, without resorting to industry jargon or buzzwords that leave readers frustrated and unable to locate the information they’re after.
Make sure your how-to guides are easily searchable and offer multiple formats tailored to the content preferences of your audience, such as video tutorials. Incorporating links to relevant resources within your knowledge base to ensure all questions and potential solutions are covered is also beneficial in providing a better user experience.
Create a step-by-step outline
An effective step-by-step guide requires breaking down complex processes into manageable steps that users can easily follow, and providing additional formats like videos and visuals as supplementary material to accompany it.
Start by discussing and creating an outline for each process you wish to document with your team, making a rough draft that reflects them all. Review each step to ensure it makes sense and can easily be understood by anyone before testing out the task yourself in order to verify whether your instructions are clear and precise.
Instructions may be skimmed by some readers, so it’s crucial to write in short sentences using verbs in order to keep readers engaged. Break up text using headlines or bullet points so readers can skip sections easily and skip over unimportant sections easily. Furthermore, avoid jargon and use beginner-appropriate terminology; using expert terminology could confuse and frustrate them and force them to contact customer support lines for assistance.
Break up text
An outline can guide readers quickly to specific sections in print guides; digital user manuals with searchable components enable readers to find answers more quickly. It is also essential that all your guides adhere to consistent design elements.
How-to guides have many purposes – internal training tools for employees or external customer guides being just two. Knowing your content’s primary goal will promote empathy while making sure you write clearly to meet reader requirements.
People searching for how-to guides tend to be in a rush, wanting to get their jobs done as quickly as possible. Therefore, readers might quickly skim text containing stories, data or lengthy details; to keep readers’ attention spans intact it’s essential that text be broken up using lists, headers and bullet points; linking to additional resources can also provide depth of understanding on topics covered by guides such as blog posts, pillar pages or even ebooks that provide additional knowledge into its topic.
How-to guides serve as tutorials to aid readers in accomplishing various tasks. Their purpose is to impart knowledge and help readers master complex skills; making them invaluable resources both for employees and customers alike.
As you draft your guides, keep in mind that most readers of instructions on how to do something will scan quickly through text that contains too many stories or details if reading is difficult for them. Therefore, strive to create steps which are clear, concise and easily understood by readers.
Product documentation represents your business professionally, builds trust with users and expands your audience. Make sure that any how-to guides include an effective call-to-action which encourages readers to take the next step – Wayfair’s refrigerator buying guide includes links back to its Shop All Refrigerators category page so visitors can browse options and possibly purchase something. This increases conversions and user satisfaction!