Rob Relyea

xaml:Blog

E-Manuals could make consumers happier

Early this morning, I'm spending a little time organizing my home office.

There is so much paper, so much to manage.  Many things can improve this...I'm going to focus this quick post on consumer product manuals.

This is yet another post that related to the ideas brewing in my head for a url manifesto.

My New LCD TV
I bought a new TV recently for use in my office.  I unpacked it a few weeks ago.
Now, I need to figure out what to do with the manuals, warrantees, etc... that came with it.

Documents that came with it
Television Users Guide
Manuel D'Instructions (french version of Users Guide, i now realize that this tv was meant for distribution in Canada...not sure how I ended up with it).
Warranty
Warnings sheet - warning you not to scrape your belt buckle on the screen as you unload the box.
Product Registration Card

Things I could see Improving
Documents that might be worth saving should have an electronic version available on the net.
Manuals should have their digital location url listed on the back cover.
In my case, I'd love to see something like: Electronic Version: jvc.com/TVManual-LT-26X776
I would generally ditch the paper version, and download the electronic version.  It is easier to store, find, etc...

Guidelines:
Printed documents/manuals should generally also be available on the net.
Printed documents should indicate (in a standard way) the url of this document.
The Url for a document should be a simple, descriptive, unique, longlasting url.

Issues
How do you deal with the different language versions of a manual?
A) encode it in the URL
B) make the URL provide links to all the language versions
C) detect the users language at the URL and redirect to the right document

What format do you publish the document in?
PDF, HTML, Word, etc...
Many choose PDF today...When Windows Vista ships, XPS (Xml Paper Specification) and WPF flow documents are 2 new options to consider.

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