How to Make an Interesting User Guide (Hint: Comics)
By Ksenia Makarova. Filed in How-To Guides
Pictures and Infographics seems to have taken over the world – we all just love expressive fun pictures and may immediately close a web page if it only contain bare text. Lets take comic as an example. It used to be just funny pictures that entertain people but today, some companies have discovered its effectiveness of "art of sequence" that can be presenting step-by-step guides to absolutely anything. Do you like a user manual? Almost everyone detests a user manual and I’m pretty sure you can’t even recall when was the last time you bother to read up a user manual. However, some user manuals has evolved, to something less painful.
And I don’t mean things like this:
Nope, that’s no comics, these are just standard boxed illustrations meant to let users visually imagine the stuff they have to fight with. A comic guide is something absolutely special – unique combination of text and graphics where they are inseparable, there are plots and themes, balloons that makes a user manual interactive to catch attention and it will never fail.
Have a look at these 5 great examples of comic guide I’ve found:
1. Google Chrome Comic Guide
The most famous example of them is created by Scott McCloud. The Chrome comic takes 39 pages and has really many guys starring – the heroes are Google developers and they are using IT jokes and simple language to explain complicated web stuff to anyone. A very interesting and informative comic though someone might find it a bit too long and monochromatic.
2. Hackett and Bankwell Comic User Guide to Linux
Hackett and Bankwell takes even more pages than Google Chrome but it’s a multi-colored comics with a real plot where Hackett, a penguin (not Tux surprisingly), helps the Chinese girl in a serious mission. While saving the world Hackett keeps informing her on what actually Linux is (oh no, GNU isn’t an antelope) .
Well, seems like a good idea for non-linuxoid comic lovers to start a new life.
3. AdVantShop.NET. Comic Guide to E-Commerce
This one is less famous and less in size. The comic takes one html page but doesn’t make it less interesting or informative. The comic represents the company’s product (shopping cart script) to the user so that he can see how it is to work with it. No web interfaces, no difficult commands – only user impressions with a bit of nice humor.
4. User’s Guide to Proper Urinal Etiquette
Just thought that at least one funny-purpose manual should be included in the list – this comic provides step-by-step instruction of behaving when in WC). How serious can taking a loo be? still, comics are perfect for really any purpose you can come up with.
5. The Manga Guide to Databases
Unbeatable is the right word for Manga. Japanese art is just so popular that it’s also use for many different entertainment and educating purposes. From erotic to scientific you name it. The Manga Guide to database is a book created for students specially to make it easier to cope with learning databases. Here cute little princess with huge innocent sparkling eyes in the Business kingdom gets mysterious database knowledge from a smart Fairy.
Bonus: Oatmeal’s Guide to Using “I.E”
I guess this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of theoatmeal’s comic guide so I decided to save the best for the last. This comic guide gives you an idea when you should be using “I.e.” instead of “E.g” in sentences and why printers are actually sent from hell. You should definetely check out other oatmeal’s comics!
Well, there are certainly much more of similar instructions but I’m trying to present the tendency in brighter examples. I believe that in the nearest future we’ll have most of the user guides comixed because it’s not only eye catching but also keep our eyes from straying. Which perfectly fits the purpose of any brand – to make us read to the end.