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Paperless user manuals


In the last years an idea is bugging me. You probably saw those user manuals that come with almost any product. Yeah, those thick ones that nobody reads them. Even better some are accompanied by a CD. Really? CD? Has a time machine been invented and are those manufacturers producing goods to ship them in the past?

Who’s using a CD anymore? Or should I ask, who’s owning a CD or DVD anymore? From thousands of laptops on the market I think you can find DVD drives in only few tens or hundreds of them. And when it comes to tablets, and many laptop owners switched to tablets, the ratio is clear x:0.

The funny part is when you get such a CD for setting up a laptop or even a DVD drive. Come on! Everyone now has an Internet connection and optic fiber is even de-facto standard in many countries. Yeah, I agree that there are some exceptions, but I would say that there are only exceptions. And if they’re not exceptions how would you call owning a CD/DVD drive?

So, why the manufacturers are so stubborn in printing and packing those? Is there any kind of law to force them? I think it should be one to force them not to print them. As an ecologist and a parent, I care about what happens to our trees and environment in general.

I would think that the best thing should be a small standard sticker with a QR code and a tiny URL printed on it. From that point on you’ll get a web page with a much better interaction. Starting guide, usage sections in a mobile optimized experience. Nowadays many people are owning a smartphone and this will be an improved experience. Not to mention that few months after you bought a product, most probably you lost the user manual. But not if you bookmarked the page or if you read/scan the sticker again.

Also imagine the costs of creating such user manuals and printing them. Costs that you pay as the end user.

Unfortunately, until a law will enforce high taxes on this kind of manuals and the total waste of resources, I don’t think the situation will change.

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Categories: Ideas
  1. March 22, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Hi,
    I found this article while searching for user paperless user manuals. Actually, I have developed a website and an application which allows everyone to upload and share a user manual in PDF format. We decided to use QR Codes to make the user manuals accessible to everyone.
    Please check below:
    https://www.coodoc.com/
    Please feel free to contact me if you need more information.
    Best!

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