As much as you'd want to believe it, getting more sign-ups isn't a real measure of success. When users find enough value in your product to make it a part of their daily routine, you find success.
So, how can you turn new users into power users and maximize customer satisfaction? With easy, simple and well-documented user guides.
User guides let users find answers and solve problems on their own. This gives them a sense of ownership and helps them explore your product’s complete functionality. More importantly, it reduces friction from the user experience, preventing churn and losses.
In this article, we'll walk you through the five main types of user guides you can create, along with five user guide examples to inspire your own.
What is a user guide?
A user guide, also known as a user manual, contains all the relevant information and instructions for end-users to use a product properly. It's a start-to-finish guide designed to help users navigate your product, reach the activation point and become power users.
A well-designed and reader-friendly user guide can remove friction from the user experience and help new users experience your product’s value quicker. It also enables existing users to get the best out of your tool and troubleshoot their problems promptly.
Do you really need a user guide? 5 reasons why you do
What if you move to a new city and find yourself lost in an unknown neighborhood? New users signing up for your product are somewhat in the same situation—lost in a new and unfamiliar interface. User documentation guides them to the right destination.
With the right documentation, users can make better sense of the product's functionality and reach their aha! moment faster.
If you’re still wondering whether creating a user guide is really worth your time to create a user guide, here are five convincing reasons to start with it today:
1. Drive product adoption faster
New users can feel lost after signing up for a new tool. They might struggle to fully understand your tool's functionality and use different features to meet their goals. The longer they take to do this, the higher your chance of losing them.
But a solid user manual can flip this situation around. With this detailed and interactive manual covering every part of your product, you can hold your users’ hands to take them closer to their goals.
Put simply, user guides can simplify the user experience and accelerate activation, increasing the overall product adoption rate.
2. Ease your support team’s work
If users depend on the customer support team to answer every query, your CS team will be buried under a pile of tickets every. single. day.
Instead of burdening your support executives, create a user guide to let users find answers on their own. This reduces the pressure on your CS team to answer calls and respond to queries while giving customers a shortcut to solve their problems more quickly.
3. Deliver a frictionless user experience
If you see too much traffic on a given route, you'll likely skip that route and take a different way, right? In this imaginary (but very real) scenario, traffic is a source of friction, pushing your users to find a different alternative for your product.
A user guide can reduce friction and give customers all the information they need exactly when they need it. By doing that, this guide prevents users from switching to your competitors and builds brand loyalty in the long run.
4. Document product changes consistently
Your product will undergo multiple upgrades to respond to user feedback and optimize its functionality. With user guides, you can document all these upgrades to guide new and existing users for new changes seamlessly.
It also helps to keep all your product-related information in a single place. So, neither your internal teams nor your customers have to struggle to find relevant information.
5. Maximize customer delight through self-service
User guides help customers maximize your product's value and ramp up their ROI. These manuals also give users more ownership over their product experience because they don't have to rely on support reps to figure everything out.
By guiding users to take charge of the tool and get the best results, user guides boost customer delight once the sale is through. They eventually win customer loyalty and nurture meaningful client relationships.
5 must-have user guide templates for your product
User guides come in many formats depending on user needs. You can create a quick start guide to onboard new users flawlessly and drive product adoption. Or you can design a troubleshooting guide to help users with specific queries.
Let’s look at the five most common user guide templates to create for your product:
- Quick start guide.
- Setup instructions.
- Product manual.
- Troubleshooting guide.
- Knowledge base.
1. Quick start guide.
A quick start guide is a step-by-step instructions guide designed to help users quickly understand the tool's features and get cracking. Through this guide, you can deliver just-in-time help and give customers the confidence to solve anything independently.
A good quick start guide template covers these essential questions:
- What does this product do?
- How do I finish setting up this product?
- What are a few core features to start with?
- Are there any crucial details to know before getting started?
This quick reference guide is like a cheat sheet for users to quickly crack the code and become more familiar with your product. As a bonus, it can also save your support team some precious hours spent answering the same questions over and over again—win-win!
Scribe top tip: Spice up your quick start guide by adding step-by-step instructions created on Scribe. Give users a brief walkthrough of the product interface with neatly designed Scribes like this one.
2. Setup instructions
Setup instructions, or an installation guide, is another user guide format that simplifies your product's technical functions for non-technical users. As the name indicates, this is a set of stepwise instructions to install and set up your product during the onboarding process.
But creating good setup instructions needs a bit of trial and error. You have to constantly monitor user behavior to identify any points where they get stuck or drop off altogether.
Tweak your setup instructions to avoid such friction and streamline the onboarding experience. You can also add contextual in-app guidance using apps like Whatfix to ensure users get the correct instructions when they're in the flow.
Here's an example of a Zendesk onboarding guide, made with Scribe and Scribe Pages.
3. Product manual
A product manual includes end-to-end documentation of your product’s functionality. It’s a mix of introductory videos, interactive product walkthroughs, feature demos and step-by-step guides to set users up for long-term success with your product.
A good product manual helps:
- First-time customers derive more value from your product.
- Existing customers maximize their ROI and hit bigger goals.
This form of product documentation stays ahead of the users to solve their problems. It takes them from a state of complete unawareness about the product to a state of total awareness and ownership.
4. Troubleshooting guide
A troubleshooting guide is a set of guidelines to solve common problems and errors in your tool. This manual allows users to diagnose and treat their own issues through clear and simple instructions.
Whether you want to help new users or guide existing ones, a troubleshooting guide is a must-have for all product teams. It delivers help exactly when users need it and simplifies the technical part of troubleshooting. More importantly, this guide also prevents frustration by empowering users to resolve their problems quickly.
5. Knowledge base
A knowledge base is a centralized library of the most frequently asked questions about your product. It covers all aspects of your tool and categorizes these FAQs within each function to help users find what they’re looking for. It also comes with a search engine to simplify knowledge discovery with a search.
Think of a knowledge base as a more intuitive form of a user manual. It lets users search and get answers in a few seconds, with minimal effort to find information.
How to create a user guide in a few seconds
A user manual is added paperwork for the product or CS teams. Sitting on Google Docs to add one step after another is just too much (boring) work.
What if you could speed up this process and make it fun? With Scribe, you can.
Scribe simply records your screen and turns any process or task into a step-by-step guide. You can create a single guide in a few easy seconds and modify the guide in whatever way you want. Here's how easy it is to use Scribe for user documentation.
Once you’ve created relevant guides for all aspects of your product, put them together on a Page. It’s a collection of Scribes organized with text, visuals, links and more. See how effortless documentation can be?
5 user guide examples that stand out (& why)
If you're looking for some inspiration to hit the ground running and create a stellar user manual, here are five best user guide examples to show you how it’s done.
Grammarly’s user guide is neat and minimal. It shows a search bar up top to let users quickly type in a keyword and find the most relevant information. You’ll also find a set of featured articles, showing the popular answers users generally look for.
Below this fold, the page has six main categories to guide users to different segments of the product.
So, instead of getting lost in a maze and struggling to find the right keywords for their query, users can simply jump to the right category and get an answer effortlessly.
ClickUp’s user manual is detailed and well-structured. As with most knowledge bases, it opens with a big search bar and keyword prompts to find answers at lightning speed.
The next section has a few direct access links to ClickUp’s resources and documentation for users, like its API, webinars and templates.
You can then find a bunch of categories to dig into for specific concerns. Each category has a neat navigation to show you around. The page ends with a list of the most popular questions to save users all the heavy lifting of finding relevant details.
Outreach has an interactive knowledge base with nine categories and an option to contact the support team. Each category addresses queries for a specific product function, like onboarding.
You'll find more information about different features and user queries within the category section. All these FAQ pages are packed with screenshots and scannable content to make things easier for users.
Calendly’s help center is like any other help center page—but with more color. The page opens with a search bar, followed by a list of the most popular articles.
You'll then find FAQs divided into six categories. Each category takes you deeper into the product, helping you connect the dots and understand the overall functionality better. But here's the best part about Calendly's user guide: it comes with explainer videos to give you a mini product demo for different features.
Mailchimp's user guide has a mix of step-by-step guides, tutorials and video demos. You can either use the search function to find what you're looking for or jump to one of their popular articles.
The user guide simplifies the job for users with a dedicated "Help by Topic" section. Here, you'll find a broader categorization of product features. So, you can get to the bottom of any aspect of the tool and resolve your queries in the snap of a finger.
Put your user guide documentation on auto-pilot with Scribe
User guides can be the difference between satisfied customers and frustrated ones. It’s the key to helping users get maximum value from your product and derive more value.
Use the user guide templates and examples this article shares to make your own. Remember to make it intuitive, actionable and reader-friendly. Create a simple, brand-aligned design and spice it up with a mix of videos or gifs to show users the way.
Don’t forget to add the secret ingredient to the recipe — Scribe, your documentation best friend! Try it today to see how it can change the game for you.