Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dear manufacturers of computer things that require instruction manuals:

Hi. I have a few requests for you, in case you're updating those manuals anytime soon.

1. When you have a quick-start guide, make sure that's what it is. Don't include small text in step three that says, "You require extensive knowledge of X in order to do this." If I require extensive knowledge of anything to install your product, then you can't have a quick start guide.

2. If you say in your quick start guide that your product is compatible with my machine (a Mac), then make sure it is. If I have to install something on a PC first, in order for my Mac to work, then technically it's not compatible with my Mac. What would happen if I didn't have a PC on my network? (Don't laugh - it happens.)

3. If I do have access to a PC on my network, then following the instructions exactly should allow me to install your product. Seriously - if there's something I need to do, WRITE IT IN.

4. If your product gives people trouble, how about a troubleshooting section IN THE MANUAL?

5. If you have a FAQ on your website, why not include more than six questions? I know that people have asked more than six questions - I have a PhD, and I have about fifteen questions for you.

6. If you one of those FAQ says, "What if I can't see the device on the network?" and your answer is "Turn off your firewall", make sure that's the only possible answer. If there are other possible answers, say so.

7. Try not to suck so much; your customers will be happier (or at least, they won't have high blood pressure).

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