Design for the Use Environment
When you plan your manual, think about how and where it
will be used. If your company makes fax machines, you can be fairly
certain that the person reading your manual will be sitting at a desk
in an office with good lighting. But what if your company makes
farm implements? The user might be in a dimly-lit machine shed or
under bright sunlight in a hayfield. Either way, you’ll probably
need to make the font a bit larger.
Lighting isn’t the only thing to consider. Will your users
have clean hands? Not if your product is industrial machinery. Consider
using coated stock for pages that will be referred to often—such
as in maintenance manuals. Will the user be referring back and forth
between manual and product as he or she performs a procedure? Make
sure the pages will lie flat without the user having to hold them in place.
The more you research the use environment, the more useful you can
make your manual—and the more likely it will be to be used.