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You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near ') ORDER BY comment_date ASC' at line 3 Technical Instructions: Write Step-By-Step How-To's That People Can Actually Follow Technical Instructions: Write Step-By-Step How-To's That People Can Actually Follow - Article Marketing

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Technical Instructions: Write Step-By-Step How-To's That People Can Actually Follow

By: amandahepp | Total views: 88 | Word Count: 471 | Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2013 - 4:32 PM

When the calls to your help line pile up, when complaints flood in, when it seems no one can understand how to use your technical product or service, it's time to look at your instructions. Most technical instructions fail because:
• The user doesn't know what the objective is. Start with a sentence or two describing what end result the user should expect.

• The prerequisites or first steps are omitted. Never assume that customers know to first plug in the computer; click the OFF switch; unwrap the box.

• The warnings come at the end when the mistakes have already been made. Provide warnings and troubleshooting advice in advance or where the problem is most likely to happen.

• There aren't any warnings. Tell your customers how to avoid and recognize trouble and how to get out of it.

• The steps aren't in order or complete. There's only one way to guard against confusing or missing steps: Follow the technical instructions exactly as you've written them, and when your hands do something that isn't written down--revise the instructions.

• You explained when you should have shown. Diagrams, photos, screen shots, tables and graphs are much easier to understand than words. Customers like to see what you're writing about.

• All your illustrations are unreadable. Graphics must be large and clear; the lines on a graph must be easy to distinguish even in black and white; the important data on a diagram or table must be highlighted.

• The individual steps are too long. Short steps are easier to understand than long steps. Break down procedures as much as possible.

• The entire technical procedure is too long. Break it up and give customers a sense of progress. Subheadings are a good way to do this: "Checklist before You Begin," "Logging In," "Starting the Machine," "Creating Your First Item."

• You use too much jargon. If your graphic design software, for example, is able to create a globe, call it a "globe," not a "spherical globule."

• You didn't make any mistakes. Find out what happens when you make a mistake and whether you (and your customers) can recover from it. For example, type in the number 1 instead of a lower case L or delete instead of save or put part A into slot B instead of slot 8.

• The instructions aren't standardized. Make sure every staff member has access to the exact same instructions. Otherwise, each customer will receive different advice and your staff will spend more time correcting each other than correcting the original problem.
With the right technical instructions, you'll cut the time your staff spends responding to questions and complaints; you'll eliminate most call backs; and you'll see a sharp increase in client satisfaction.

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