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Technical Writing Fundamentals Essay

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User manuals are reference documents designed for use with individual pieces of equipment. The most common being phones, power tools, and electronics. (Dorbin, Keller & Weisser, 2010). In this essay there will be critiquing on the user manual for the iPad version iOS 6.1 Software. This manual was chosen because it is associated with newest iPads. The criteria that will be used are; Audience Recognition, Development, Conciseness, Consistency, Ease of Use and Document Design. (Gerson & Gerson, 2012).

Audience Recognition:

Pro: Based off of the many millions of users all over the world, Apple has done a great job at showing visuals and understanding for the many different types of readers. A great example is page 48, paragraph after the picture, they explain to start a conversation you must first tap then tap . This is a great way to show that they understand that a reader can visually see these icons and knows where to go next. Con: One thing that they could have used is an icon Key. On page 12 they have a key for status on the top bar of the phone but not an all icon key.

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Development:

Pro: Apple provides a developed set of steps to complete the tasks. A great example would be page 49, when sending a picture message it shows you step-by-step directions as well as pictures of the icons to follow to send a picture/video. The steps are simple and precise. On top of page 12 Apple has a Warning label. They encourage you to read it by emphasizing there is a warning to avoid injury, and it links to their Appendix C page for Safety. It provides hazards, technical descriptions, accessories and the tools needed. (Gerson & Gerson, 2012) Con: Even though apple provides several different types of warranties that you can purchase for your apple product, Apple should still have a generic warranty if not reference you to an apple store for warranty information.

Conciseness:

Pro: Each paragraph is to the point and there is very firm direction in explaining a situation or task. Page 32, pairing your Bluetooth for example. This is for some reason a difficult procedure for some people yet apple found a very short and simple way to explain this. Con: There are Apple terms and keys that a new user might not understand. Page 13 tells the readers they need an Apple ID for some features yet there is no description or information on how to obtain one.

Consistency:

Pro: The beginning of this manual is very consistent as for visuals, labeling and numbering. The terms are all like and you can completely understand the direction they are trying to lead you. Con: The first half of the manual is very consistent. Apple added one picture per page through the manual; yet every page from 96 to the end, was only words. The pictures, blue arrows and words stopped. They did not show consistency.

Ease of Use:

Pro: When reading this manual it allows for easy maneuvering. Great example is their table of contents. Say you have a problem with your Siri or would like to know more about it. Once you notice that it is on page 35, you do not need to scroll down, you simply click on the link and it takes you there. They clearly label their headings in a larger font and/or make them blue to differentiate. Con: A FAQ page would come in handy with this product. Many people have similar questions. If Apple were to insert questions frequently asked and direct them to the section that they need to go to it might help readers who were purchasing their product for the first time and had trouble with the terminology they use. An example would be home button. Any one who has an iPhone or iPad know that it is the square located in the bottom middle of the screen. A new user might not know what is being referenced.

Document Design:

Pro: A very good use of visuals would be page 11, SIM card tray. The visual demonstrates with blue arrows how to remove the tray from your devise with the SIM key and how to dislodge it from its holding and then how to replace. The visuals are self-explanatory and clear to the point. Con: There is so much information and technology going on with the iPad that the manual seems to go on forever. There is an abundance of writing and a lot to try and take in. This manual works if you use the table of contents to skim to what you need but to over look and to become familiar with this product, it is very intimidating to look at. Overall this user manual has amazing usability. It meets all of the criteria that is discussed in Technical Communication. Process and Product, Seventh Edition, Chapter Thirteen.

References:

Dobrin, S. I., Keller, C. J., & Weisser, C. R. (2010). Technical communication in the twenty-first century (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

Gerson, S.J., & Gerson, S.M. (2012). Technical Communication. Process and Product. (7th Ed.). Pearson Education

Link to Manual:

http://manuals.info.apple.com/en_US/ipad_user_guide.pdf

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