In your day-to-day work, you might find that there are times when you need to provide a client with documentation that walks them through a process or teaches them how to do something they may be unfamiliar with.
I’ve mentioned before that I view writing skills as vitally important for everyone, in every business, and this is a prime example of why being able to write effectively is so important.
Get out of your own head: When you begin to prepare instructions for processes you know inside and out, you will need to consciously take a step back and approach the material from a new angle. Know the objective: Make sure you know exactly what your manual needs to cover in order to avoid information overload or confusion that can come from too many details. Outline it first: Before jumping in and creating steps, create a high-level outline of what the document will cover, including main and subsections.
Make it easy to understand: Lists are a great way to outline steps for doing something because they can help people move item by item in the way you intend. Use visual aids: Screenshots, diagrams and even videos are a great way to beef up your manual and make it easier to understand.


Give it a test drive: Or better yet, have someone else who has never seen the material before run through the instructions.
Keep in mind that you may need to review and update the manual periodically, especially if it’s something that focuses on a third-party application or other system you do not control.
Great post, especially for those of us who create specialized or customized systems and programming for clients.
If you can’t get the steps and details down on paper in an easy to understand and intuitive way, you will probably spend a great amount of time and frustration handling support requests and fixing things done incorrectly. Start at square one by assuming the audience will have zero knowledge of the subject matter. This will help you make sure your process makes sense and that each section of the manual is consistently structured.
It’s also a good idea to use a table of contents and make your document searchable, if possible, to further support your step-by-step approach.


Keep the formatting of these supporting materials consistent and to the point to avoid overwhelming the reader. Plus, with some material, it may also make sense to offer the client a hands-on walk through to ensure your instructions accomplish what they need to accomplish. Bonus course Introduction to Git is yours when you take up a free 14 day SitePoint Premium trial. And keep in mind that learning styles vary, so one client may be able to run with the same instructions that confuse a different client. Being flexible in your format and delivery can help make sure the instructions work for the recipient.




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