How do you write great user manual, you don’t.

A user manual is created to provide step-by-step instructions on how to use a product. The product can be a lawn mower, iphone or a software application. Software applications that are designed well do not require any user manual. Instead the software application is designed to be intuitive.

To design something that is intuitive requires a great understanding of how the product fits into the natural flow of things. This means the person or group of people that will use the software application have to be studied.  Too many software applications require the user to adapt instead of developing a software application to the user’s natural environment.

It does not matter if we are talking about people or gorillas. It is best to study people in their natural habitat instead of dragging them into a conference room and asking, “What do you want?” It is always best to go to the jungle and study your customer.  Ethnological analysis, going to the jungle, is alien in software development.  Most software developers have little or no contact with an actual user.

If you don’t understand how a person does his or her daily tasks or the natural workflow, then you can’t design software applications that are intuitive. Let me guess – you don’t have time to go to the jungle because you are busy writing user manuals and other documentation.

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