Did You Hear the One About the User Guide with a Sense of Humor?
February 25, 2010 9 Comments
A while back I posted a simple question: Can tech writers break the rules? I also asked the question on LinkedIn, and we’ve got a great discussion going among several tech writers. One writer, Dave Bicko, says:
I just bought a Peavey Guitar Amp in January. [The manual] was extremely useful, actually funny and included jokes about drummers. A similar guide for a Roland electronic drum kit is written in the typical tech writer style. By the time I figure out what it says, I’m so frustrated, I no longer want to play the drums.
I love this! A funny user guide with jokes! Peavey clearly knows its customers, and it gives them a helpful manual that’s also fun to read. Here’s a company that’s building connections to its customers while meeting a need.
I call this kind of approach to technical documentation content as a service (see also Kai Weber). Peavey views its user guides not merely as a product—some inanimate thing to be implemented or consumed—but as a service that interacts with customers and gives them an experience with Peavey. Something unexpected, something beyond the status quo.
Notice also that this doesn’t require the latest technology. Peavey doesn’t use social media or screencasts or an interactive demo. It’s just good writing with a bit of personality.
So what do you think about the idea of including jokes in user guides? Maybe that wouldn’t work for your documentation—okay, but what’s something that would work? How are you giving your users an experience? How are your documents providing a service?Bill Kerschbaum is the owner of Intext Writing, a writing service for businesses that want to produce content beyond the status quo. Email him for details.