- A Guide to User Guides
Keeping user guides seamless and simple
There’s so much more to a product than its features. There’s an entire ecosystem of teams, documents and experiences that make sure that you not only have customers, but that they use and enjoy your product in the long term. One of the easiest — but most overlooked — solutions to creating such an ecosystem is building help center resources.
In my role as a Client Relationship Associate at Kite, I have grown to understand the importance of accessible help content for our users. A user might sign up, but have no idea how to use your product (even if you think it’s intuitive). An effective user guide can be the make or break factor to successfully upgrade someone from a registered to an enthusiastic customer.
At Kite, help center resources are not just a single team’s responsibility, but a collective task. Through bringing multiple perspectives and interests together, we built a user guide experience that was both technically accurate, accessible and easy on the eyes (thanks to the design team).
User guides are stuck in the past
Let’s get to the point: how many of us have ever had the patience to go through a user manual? Pages and pages of obscure diagrams, long paragraphs, and no clear answers.
Help centre resources are often at the bottom of priorities for a product development, in part because we can’t see beyond the terrible user manual experiences we’ve all had. This results in impenetrable, incomplete or entirely non-existent opportunities for users to learn about your product. However, designing your help centre resources can be as innovative an experience as that of building a product.
Here are a few ways to bring user guides into the 21st century:
1. Make it a group effort
Having the product team alone write a user guide is a little like having a parent introduce their star child. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but the product team will write from their perspective, assuming certain user flows are way more intuitive than they actually are. The user guide might then use too few words, using language too technical for a layperson to decipher.
Instead, bring other people to the table to make and test user guides. At Kite, our guides are the result of collaboration between the development, finance and customer success teams. This is how I learned our latest product, Kite Tab, backwards and forwards. Since I have to help our users on a daily basis, helping draft our user guides was an effective way to provide feedback to the product team, and to create language that users could understand.
2. Keep it simple
No one is going to read your user guide word for word.
The language and content should be skimmable, consistent and up to date with the product. The word count should be limited to a bare minimum. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so include reference images, gifs and one-minute videos instead!
3. Always be updating
An effective user guide is a line of support that can bring down the pressure on the customer support team to answer basic queries. This helps support scale and brings down support wait times for customers. Clearly, user guides are a win-win for both parties!
Making user guides should be a proactive and continuous process in line with product development. You should not have to wait until a user faces an issue, but instead have relevant stakeholders meet before major releases to understand what impacts (if any) new features will have on your user guides/experience.
4. Get user feedback
As with other parts of your product, you should try to get regular, detailed customer feedback on your user guides. For instance, if a customer is on the phone with your support team, ask them if/how they interacted with your company’s user guides. This can help your team understand how to make your user guides easier to find and even easier to use.
We love to simplify processes at Kite, both through users’ support experiences and through our products, which strive to offer secure, modern and accessible finance solutions for people across India. By seeing product and experience as two sides of the same coin, and through cross-team collaboration, you can create user guides that solve for accessibility, relevance and engagement.
- Date of publication:
- Fri, 03/16/2018 - 04:40
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