Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
A user's guide for school lunches
Sometimes product documentation is treated like an afterthought. Something the company has to provide because it is expected, with its only requirement being that it is present in the box. Sad, but true. But occasionally you find a product that takes the completely opposite approach. Laptop Lunchbox, look like an example.
Laptop Lunchbox is a cute food container that makes it easier to package nutritious and varied bag lunches. Sandwich bags, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap are awkward at best, and in some cases make it impossible to neatly package good food. That's the product in a nutshell. Simple. So simple and easy in fact, who would need a manual? Tupperware certainly doesn't provide a manual with its bowls and containers.
Well, Laptop Lunch comes with a 90 page user's guide. (Here's the table of contents.) And the best part is that it's not about cleaning, opening, and arranging the pieces. This manual talks about nutrition, provides recipes, problem childhood eating, and so on. Real, valuable info related to the domain that the product addresses, without insulting customers about the obvious. Imagine a world where every product came with documentation that helped you integrate the product into your life. Not just "point, click, plug-in, turn off." Bravo, Laptop Lunches. I haven't read the manual, but the foresight and intention is wonderful.