User documentation (also called end user manuals, end user guides or instruction manuals) is the content that you provide the end users with to help them be more successful with your product or service.
User documentation is important because it provides a chance for users to learn:
- How to use your hardware/software
- Features of your hardware/software
- Tips and tricks of your hardware/software
- How to resolve common problems with your product
Without user documentation, a user may not know how to do the above things.
What does user documentation usually include?
- Minimum hardware and software requirements
- Installation guide
- How to start the system
- How to use different features of the system
- Screenshots explaining main features of the system
- Examples of inputs and outputs
- Explanations of error messages and troubleshooting guides
- Contact information of the developer of the system if an undocumented question arises
The quality of user documentation can affect the rate of implementation of the new system.
Documentation shows product’s maturity
One often-overlooked indicator of a company’s maturity is the quality of their product documentation.
Software product companies are typically founded by technical people who naturally place importance on engineering roles like design and development. When so much importance is placed on these departments, sometimes user documentation gets left by the wayside.
Companies need to realize the importance of other specialist roles such as having technical communicators and writers who focus on developing user assistance materials for their products.