User Manual Critique
After reading through portions of the User Manual for Microsoft® Word©, I feel that I have learned the correct way of how not to create a User Manual.
Organization and Layout
I will first begin by talking about the organization and layout. The way the help manual is laid out is meant to be easy for the user to navigate through and find the information they are looking for. Users start at a page that lists 26 sections that can choose from to obtain more information on that section. When the user clicks one of those topics, another page will load providing the user with sub-topics. The user must then click again to begin reading about what they want to learn.
In my opinion, the layout could easily be improved by providing the topics and sub-topics on the same page; displayed in a tree view type layout. With this option being in place, the user would only have to click once to navigate to the page that contains the information they are looking for. This would help prevent users from becoming lost by having to click deeper and deeper into the menus.
When you are on the page that you were looking for, you will be greeted by a short description and a few links that you can click to drill down even further into the document. Those links are in place to provide easy navigation within that document. In each section of that document, there is a link that will bring you back to the top of the page.
Rather than having the navigation links for the document at the top of the page with the links in each section that will return you to the top of the page, I would recommend having a navigation menu on the left side of each help section that contains all of the headings in that section. This would again allow for the user to navigate around the document with less clicks of the mouse.
The team of technical writers who created the User Manual for Microsoft® Word© knew that using proper visuals in their manual would be a benefit to the...