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What are the best methods to reduce user guides for end users?

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Wayne M.

I agree that 90 pages seems way too long for something used by a sales team. I recommend that you try to understand the context for the document and then try to format it in a "storyboard" style.

The first thing that needs to be done is to understand what the documentation is to be used for. Is it pre-sales information, sales demonstrations guidelines, post-sales support? Talk to the sales people and see what they want the documentation for. Also, listen to see if there might be multiple intended uses - it is usually more effective to create multiple single purpose doucments than to create a one size fits all document. It may also be helpful to go on a couple of sales calls - real life is better than a thousand explanations.

You should now have an idea of the length of document desired by the sales team - I would guess 1, 2, 4, or 8 - 10 pages depending upon the target use. I would then go with a storyboard approach and select one diagram (1/4 page to full page) for every two pages of target size. Layout the diagrams in sequence and write an action caption for each one. An action caption is a 2-3 sentence description of why the picture is signficant. Your reader should be able to understand your message from just looking at the picutres and reading the action captions. Now write (or copy) the descriptive text for each picture adhering to page boundaries.

This approach will usually produce a good quality document. First focus on your audience (the sales teams) needs, then create a highly visual document that is 25% - 50% pictures.