User document has maximum usefulness when done completely. In order to ensure that what you’re working on is comprehensive, it’s helpful to keep the user-product life cycle (U-PLC) in mind.
How does the U-PLC enhance a user document?
Because the entire series of interaction between a user and a product is described in the U-PLC, you can craft a comprehensive user document from it. This shall enable the user to obtain complete information about how the product is handled. This covers everything from the moment of purchase until disposal.
Listed below are the different stages in the U-PLC that you must consider when creating a user document.
- Product transport and unpacking
This covers guidelines about transporting the product and successfully getting it into its working location. This information is usually already present in the packaging. You should still list it down on the user document for the sake of completeness.
- General information about the product
This is another piece of information that one should list on its early parts. Among the topics included in this section are the disclaimers and the safety and legal information. In addition, this part describes how the product can benefit the user. User documents should mention the product’s key features.
- Product installation or setup
This refers to the capabilities the process of setting up the product requires. There may be differences in the writer’s assumptions and the actual user experience. Thus, it’s smart to fully list down the skills and rules needed to carry out the installation on the user document. A checklist to determine if the user can set it up by himself or should seek outside help is helpful. More than this, some places have imposed laws limiting its citizens from installing certain products without professional assistance. For instance, self-installations involving the modification of circuits is illegal in some parts of Canada.
It’s important to look at the bigger picture when one writes a user document. Considerations about the different environments on which a product may possibly exist will help you ensure that the information you provide is complete. As an example, one must consider the changes that different operating systems may cause on certain software.
- Product usage
This is the core of a user document. It should contain complete details encompassing the time from when a user starts the product until shutting it down. When discussing the actual use of the product, ensure that every function is covered. Progressing from the most basic to the most advanced is also advised. After this, discussing how to shut down the product isn’t only about turning it off. You must also include notes about maintenance steps that should be done when the product is shut down.
- Product maintenance
This section of the user document is about the regular maintenance practices that must be done after some time. Divide this part into different categories like daily, weekly, monthly, and annually—whatever is applicable.
- Moving the product
Some products may have different instructions for transport after purchase and transport after some use. Make sure to include both in your user document. A great example for this is moving software to another computer. Suppose a user has upgraded his device. What instructions should he follow to successfully transfer everything to the new computer?
For physical products, include the necessary instructions for moving into another location.
- Discarding the product
In this section of the user document, it’s advisable to only talk about putting the product up for sale. You can mention that by religiously following and keeping it, it may be easier to sell the product in the future.
Some final reminders about using U-PLC in your user document
The good ones rely on the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the presented information. When you follow the user-product life cycle, you make these traits guaranteed for the future user. If you want to maximize the user document further, you can collaborate with your company’s marketing team to include a section for the acquisition of the product.