Write the manual first.

You don’t really know a subject until you’ve had to teach it. In the same way, you don’t really understand your interface until you’ve written a manual explaining how to use it. It can be a frustrating experience. Take for example the two manuals for digital watch and analog watch. The section on setting a digital watch is over a page of dense, difficult explanation. The analog’s is a single sentence: “Pull crown and turn.”

Don’t forget to test the manual on real people. Watching them misunderstand, misinterpret, and miss might be the most aggravating experience you’ve had since trying to thread a needle in the dark. Remember, though, it’s not the their fault.

It all comes down to this: If you’re having trouble explaining how to use your product, the user will have trouble using it.

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