The Future of Owner Manuals?

The Hyundai Equus is the first car that comes with an iPad as the owner’s manual. It certainly won’t be the last car to do that, but is this a sign of a trend of what owner’s manuals are going to start to look like?

Owner’s manuals have always been drab pieces of documentation written in the most boring language possible. I usually find that they seem to be thrown in almost as an afterthought for many products and come in a multitude of languages that I’ll never be able to read, making at least three quarters of the pages useless to me. And the troubleshooting section at the back of most manuals usually feature the most inane problems and solutions possible. However, owner’s manuals are usually the first thing a user of a device sees when they open the box for a product and they are also the “first line of defence” for a manufacturer when a user runs into technical problems with the device.

A user manual that is designed well can create a favourable first impression of the product and also entice the user to find out all the capabilities of the device that they might not know about from playing with the device themselves. It could also reduce the cost of providing technical support over the phone, email or in person if the included documentation covers a wide range of issues. I don’t know why companies don’t put more resources into designing their user manuals. Is it because the costs of doing so outweighs the perceived benefits?

To that end, it’s heartening to see that Hyundai is willing to try something different and put an end to the days of the boring old owner’s manual.

16. December 2010 by Han Sheng
Categories: tech, video | Leave a comment

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