User manuals have a bad reputation — and usually, it’s for good reason. Most user manuals and guides are poorly written, unclear and even outdated. They make finding answers complicated and descriptions or instructions are often confusing or don’t address the whole issue. Graphics and illustrations can help, but they rarely do enough to create a positive experience for the user.
Poor manuals can lead to an array of user issues. If you’re dealing with equipment and machinery, confusing or unclear manuals can create dangerous work environments for employees. In software, overly complex user guides can lead to productivity roadblocks and frustrated team members.
But building out user manuals typically involves a heavy lift from experts across the organization. Not only do you need to hire great writers, designers and illustrators, but you need input from engineers, supervisors and superiors.
Creating useful manuals quickly becomes a major headache for everyone involved.
Manual creation software eliminates some of the hurdles that make creating user guides difficult. With the help of the right tools, you can easily and quickly create high-quality manuals that users actually enjoy interacting with.
5 best manual creation software in 2022
What is manual creation software?
Manual creation software is used to create, design and share user instruction guides and product knowledge. Today’s manual creation software goes a step beyond tools that created guides in the past by bringing a digital element to how the information is shared and displayed. Manual creation software can make manuals interactive, easier to follow, and simpler to navigate, creating a better experience for the end user.
Benefits of manual creation software
Using manual creation software can streamline the process of creating user guides and deliver an overall superior experience to both your team and your users. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using manual creation software:
- Easy collaboration. Creating a strong manual requires many different perspectives, voices and ideas to come together. Manual creation software provides a central hub for conversation, collaboration and editing. Software streamlines the process of collecting ideas and input and stores all the relevant information right in one place so you don’t have to worry about forgetting or missing crucial information.
- Built-in approvals and version control. With so many people involved in the manual creation process, it’s important to keep versions clean and maintain a structured approval process. Manual creation software can house and organize old versions for you and ensure edits or changes aren’t final until the appropriate team members give their stamp of approval.
- Streamlined layout and design. Manuals need to be clear and easy to read — this includes layout and design. With software, you can create great user guides without needing an expert designer on staff. Manual software can provide templates that make creating new pages, adding new information, or editing existing content easy for anyone to do.
- Interactive content. Digital tools can make manual content interactive, increasing user engagement and improving the user experience. With manual creation software, you can add images, graphics, illustrations, videos and more to make sure your point is delivered the way you intend.
- Straightforward sharing and simple navigation. It doesn’t matter how great your manual content is if your users can’t find the information they need quickly and easily. With manual software, you can provide links directly to the content your user needs or they can use robust search capabilities to find exactly what they’re looking for right when they need it — no more flipping through endless pages of text.
Manual creation software features
There are many different tools available you can use to create your user manuals, but there are some key features you’ll want to ensure the software you select has. Here are the features to look out for when browsing manual creation software:
- Clean user interface. When creating manual pages, you’ll likely have individuals of all experience levels involved in the process. You want to choose a tool that is easy to use for all parties with minimal training, no matter their level of experience with similar tools. A clean user interface makes it easier to hit the ground running.
- Analytics and reporting. Using a tool with built-in analytics and reporting features can help you identify what areas your users are struggling to understand and where information may not be clear. Keep track of search terms, what pages users are frequently visiting, and how much time users are spending engaging with your manual material. You can then use these insights to refine your manual content for a better experience.
- Feedback tools. Feedback tools can allow you to collect insights on whether or not your manual pages are helpful to your users and audience. Adding buttons to the end of your articles can provide opportunities for users to let you know if their problem still wasn’t solved so you can improve your content or direct them to additional support for clearer instructions.
- Custom templates. Page templates make building out new content as easy as possible. With custom template options, you can create a set layout that your team can duplicate to create new pages without needing a designer or coder to oversee.
- Tagging and recommended content. Sometimes users find that their issue is larger than they expected or they begin on the wrong manual page. Using tags or content recommendations can make it easy to direct users to additional information or other relevant pages so they can find the information they need without extra digging.
5 best manual creation software
G2 Rating: 5/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 5/5 stars
Scribe Pricing: Free basic plan
Scribe does your documentation for you. The generator turns any process into a step-by-step guide, complete with text and screenshots. Simply turn on the extension or desktop app and do your process. Scribe creates your guide in seconds.
You can edit your Scribe to add context, make edits or include any additional notes or information. When you’re done, share a direct link to the Scribe or embed it to a knowledge base or other platform.
Use Scribe Pages to go a step further and create full-fledged user manuals. Pages lets you combine Scribes with text, video images and more in a larger process doc. Create visually stunning instructions that keep users coming back for more.
Scribe makes manual creation easy by empowering all team members to get involved in the process. Because Scribe handles most of the heavy lifting for creating documents and guides, all your team needs to do is follow processes as they normally would. Get the entire team involved in the manual creation process with minimal training.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Document360 Pricing: Free basic account
Document360 is a self-service knowledge base for customers and employees. The advanced portal allows content creators to easily upload, edit, update, and build high-quality pages complete with images, videos, text, code blocks and more. Employees or customers can then browse content in the knowledge base or you can embed the Document360 assistant widget to provide on-page support in your product or on your website.
Document360 keeps track of past versions of content, as well as who made what changes. Keep an eye on how your user guides and manuals are being edited and even build in approval processes to ensure the correct people are involved in the creation process. Document360 also has a strong analytics and feedback system, so you can continuously improve your manual pages to meet your audience’s unique needs.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Dozuki Pricing: Custom quote
Dozuki is a manufacturing-focused knowledge management tool that captures and shares team information to do everything from train your team to uphold quality standards. It’s designed to be used in busy shops and on the work floor, providing a mobile-first experience to busy employees working in high-pressure and high-risk environments.
Dozuki is a powerful tool for teams that need to create highly technical manuals with significant subject matter expert input. It’s an easy to use and intuitive tool for everyone from technical engineers to leadership and I.T. professionals, so collaboration is simple across the board.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: 4.6/5 stars
Nuclino Pricing: Free basic plan
Nuclino is a “collective brain” tool that creates a central location for sharing knowledge, documents, and projects with your team. Easily collaborate, share information, and update team members on new ideas or concepts with a fast, simple interface that eliminates distractions and breaks down silos. Users can see changes in real-time, so they’re always working from the most up-to-date, accurate information.
Nuclino is best for internal-facing simplistic manuals. While you can add text, images, videos, links and more to your Nuclino pages, one of the biggest benefits of the tool is how simple and lightweight it is. Your team can easily get up and running creating manual pages with minimal training or experience.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Capterra Rating: N/A
Paligo Pricing: Custom quote
Paligo is a content management solution specifically designed for technical documentation and more robust processes. Paligo uses topic-based authoring and smart content reuse to help improve the documentation process and help your team do more in less time. Reuse building blocks, pull information from other documents and policies, and keep sections linked so changes and updates are reflected across all relevant pages.
Paligo helps teams with complex processes, procedures, and stories keep information consistent and accurate. It connects with top help centers and knowledge platforms, like Salesforce, Zendesk, and GitHub, so you can easily share your manual content with users through a platform they’re already comfortable and familiar with.
Choosing the right manual creation software
The manual creation software you select should make creating guides easier for your team — not more complicated. The right tool can make collaboration, knowledge management, and sharing simple, so your manuals will always be accurate and accessible. Take advantage of tools like Scribe today!