And the rest of us? Well, we’re usually the ones left waiting for the ‘help-me-here’ call from friends or family that follows. ‘RTFM’ is one you can look up.
A decade or two ago, all our new consumer goodies came with an impressive, comprehensive printed tome. Earnestly written by ‘engineers’, people took notice. We read this stuff. We expected to make the effort to learn how to use our new kit.
How times have changed. Fast forward to today and we’re impatient, lazy and spoilt. We expect stuff should be designed to just ‘work on our terms.’ And we’re lucky if we find a mini CD with a .pdf and a ‘Quick start’ poster.
Some manufacturers, either through brazen confidence or (more likely) to cut costs, appear to dispense with meaningful guidance entirely. Check out the tech product reviews on Amazon echoing the grumbling sentiment “The Instructions could definitely have been better”. Apparently, a web page URL is a good as it gets. Get online. Sort yourself out.
The smart players, however, do recognise the power of clear, concise instructions and still invest in what’s needed to create them. Why? Because they know the first user experience with a product can seed brand advocacy for life. They’ll work with communication professionals – designers and copywriters – just as they would for their sales and marketing campaigns. If instructions are worth doing, they’re worth doing right.
Apple, amongst others, has fine-tuned its new user experience for several years. Open a box declaring ‘designed in Cupertino’: you can bet your bottom dollar that little roll – fold iPod touch product orientation leaflet is the result of hours of information dissection, refinement and debate about what’s in and what’s out.
Not too little. Not too much. But just enough to get even an Apple product virgin connected quickly and consuming content from iTunes.
If you sell your technology using great ideas and copywriting, does your brand experience match a user’s expectation when a consumer opens the box? Investing a little time designing and writing clear user guides with carefully prioritised information wins friends and cuts support calls. Here’s five quick wins from a writer’s perspective that may help you convey what we really need to know.
blog by Ian Castle, Brand copywriter.