Many authors of help manuals have discovered that help authoring tools or HAT software programs are a great way to quickly and easily write manuals, and other help documents. Not so many people stop and think about the way using HAT software programs actually benefits everyone else, including the product manufacturer paying for the manual, and the end user of the product.
Help authoring tools help authors
A growing number of help manual authors are coming to appreciate the benefits help authoring tools can bring to the writing process. They allow high quality help documents to be created quickly and efficiently using a built in template system. The inclusion of a fully featured text editor as a part of the software program means that authors can enjoy all of the advantages of a word processor with the addition of a media library to seamlessly include video and graphical elements within the manual. All of these combine to make the authors job faster and much less tedious than before.
Benefits for the manufacturer
The advantages of this approach from the perspective of the manufacturer can be seen in several ways. The overall quality of the manual is improved by creating a document using a HAT. The professionally finished product shines through in the layout of the text, and the way graphics and other media elements are included where appropriate. Using a HAT also makes it easier to develop a standard style for your complete range of company manuals by creating your own template. Having such a template will increase the speed at which a manual can be produced, and reduce the costs associated with creating help documentation.
Another reason that product manufacturers should embrace HAT’s is that when a help document is created using a HAT it can be very rapidly updated as required. Every time there is a new version of the product issued it is a simple matter to revise the documentation that accompanies the product. With a HAT instead of rewriting the manual, it is only necessary to change the one section of the text that relates to the new feature. The manual is then automatically formatted for as many different output forms as you need (ePub, PDF, HTML etc.).
How do the public benefit?
The public are perhaps the most frequently neglected group of people when a help manual is written. This really is a mistake as these are the people who have actually bothered to go out and purchase your product so keeping them happy should be a top priority. When one of your product users turns to a help document they are looking for answers, and they need to find those answers quickly. If your help manual has been created using a help authoring tool then everything about it will have been designed to help your user find those answers as fast as possible.
The manual will:
- be available in multiple formats so it is accessible wherever the user is
- include images and videos to explain the product functions
- be quickly updated as to always reflects the latest product version
All of these benefits will help to ensure customer satisfaction and keep your customers happily working with your products long into the future.
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