The death of physical user manuals

There was a time when every purchased electronic device came with a comprehensive user manual, usually in the form of a small booklet, that details all the features the device showcases and gives a basic troubleshooting stpes should the user run into any problems.

Unfortunately, it was found out that the number of people who actually read these is quite small. This revelation made manufacturers decide that the cost of printing these manuals is not worth it anymore. They started removing these manuals from every device they sell, replacing with quick start guides.


Where can we find these manuals now?

Instead of including it in device boxes, OEM’s have moved user manuals to their website, where anyone can easily access and download a pdf copy of it. One has to know the specific model or have the device’s serial number to find the correct manual. For example, before one can get an Acer manual for their device, they have to input the device’s model or serial number in this page first.


Why still make one?

Although it’s been established that these manuals are seldom read, the fact that these are still existing begs the question, why still bother? People who are tasked to write such manuals are usually technical staff or product designer, those who know the device inside and out. You might think they would have better use of their professional time than spend it writing up a manual that no one will read.

It’s quite simple actually. The reason why it’s still being written is because people still need it. There are still people who look at these manuals whenever they run into various problems in their device. Making these manuals accessible online means the writers can virtually give help to anyone around the globe who needs it.

Despite the atrocious percentage of people reading it, the fact there are still people who needs it is reason enough for writers to keep on coming up with an easily understandable manual, and manufactures to keep publishing it online.