A better way of creating owner’s manuals

I just bought a food processer last week. As eager as my wife and I were to check out this new toy, we were stuck on how to install a slicing blade to the rotating motor. Remember, we both hold pretty serious degrees in Engineering–she has a PHD, and I have a master’s (oh, yes, you are right: she’s way smarter than me). But let’s get back to the point: the installation takes some deciphering. So we turned to the owner’s manual. To its credit, it included some nice dish recipes, but the installation instructions were intimidating with pages of tiny text.

For a non-native English speaker like me (even for native speakers I guess), my eagerness to check out this fresh product got reigned in, and my head hurt.  The problem is I didn’t want–or need–to read all the pages to locate one tip, as most of the components are self-explanatory, even without instructions. Ctrl+f to search for the key words would have been helpful…

So (literally), I threw away the manual and went to YouTube to find a live demo video, jumped to the blade installation clip, and bingo–we found it.  

There’s got to be a better way of creating owner’s manuals! Here we are: Universal Cycles, a mountain bike producer in U.K. They print a QR code on their bike body, leading to a YouTube assembly instruction video created in 3DVIA Composer by repurposing their CAD models for technical communication.


Check out what’s behind this QR code using your smart phone and a scanner app, but also think about how smart that is.

  • The instructions are graphical, quick, and easy to understand.
  • The QR code is always with the bike for reference, anywhere and any time.
  • Therefore the operating instructions won’t be lost like the traditional paper manuals. In my words, the operating manual is the thing you hate to keep because it’s heavy and there are many of them for lawn mowers, refrigerators, etc. But you also hate to lose it because you don’t know when you will need one or two key step instructions.
  • The video hosted online can always be easily updated using 3DVIA Composer, unlike traditional paper manuals. Once printed, it’s fixed and expensive to update. 
  • It will cost a lot less in translation because it requires less text. Graphs are universal. Everybody gets it, no matter of what language they speak.
  • We haven’t touched the minimal environmental impact, unlike heavy paper manuals printed in massive quantity and shipped long distance.

The business benefits were outstanding too. Stuard Wortley, Head of Design & Development at Universal Cycles said: “3DVIA Composer has enabled us to quickly create professional and concise instructions sheets and videos that impress both our distributors and end customers. It has increased customer satisfaction and reduced returns due to incorrect assembly. Operating instruction creation time was cut from one month to one week.

So there is indeed a better way, and more businesses are adopting it. Feel free to comment about your experiences with owner’s manuals.

After all, we had a nice dinner thanks to this powerful food processer. I was wondering, what if its product manual was as decent as the actual product? People do judge a book by its cover…

Contact me for more information on 3DVIA Composer @ seans@mlc-cad.com 

 on November 05, 2012 at 07:34 PM



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