Simply put, Instruction Manuals are developed to help users understand how to make the best use of the product or service.
Though Instruction Manuals can be written by anyone, professional quality guides that appeal to the end user should be written with the end user in mind. Technical Writers who realize the user may be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or a Neophyte are the perfect individuals to develop them.
When I develop User Guides and Instruction Manuals, I look over the abilities of the product, learn what it can accomplish, speak to SME’s, and decide how best to present the uses of the product to another user.
I not only learn the product, but I practice using it, discovering not only the how but the why. For example, why is an action performed in a specific way, is there a better method to perform the same action. I notice details, such as user friendliness and intuitiveness, are there things that can be suggested to the developers to improve the product?
By the time I’ve completed the document, I too am a Subject Matter Expert.
Expand items below to view some of the User Guides and Instruction Manuals I’ve developed.
The Texas Department of Agriculture developed a customer facing web based application to connect sellers and buyers of hay, pasture land, and transport. I was asked to create easy to understand instructions for public use of this application. Images were especially important for this publication to make the system easier to confirm the readers understanding of the written instructions.
HayHotline Listing and Search Website Quick Guide
While working with the Texas Department of Family and Protection Services Statewide Intake (SWI), I developed a manual for laptop users. This manual informed the user in both hardware and software features. At the time of development this manual was specifically used for the Work at Home Rewards (WaHR) and Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) programs. I understand that this manual was modified when SWI went fully remote.
This document included engaging images and communication, links, and macros.
WaHR & COOP Laptop User Guide
State agencies are required to deliver reports of specific activities on a regular basis. The Texas Department of Agriculture developed a software application to track report activities, due dates, and store copies of previous reports. This manual helps users understand the software abilities and security levels using engaging text and images.
ARCN – Agency Reporting Compliance and Notification System Quick Guide
Developed for nurses and clinic staff, this guide remained in MS Word format to enable users to make notes and edits as needed. This guide details multiple complicated processes designed to help users of the Texas DSHS TWICES network understand how to manage vaccine inventory in an old and clunky software system.