Are printed instruction / assembly manuals a waste of money and paper?
March 8, 2013
It's no secret that I do not like writing instruction manuals. I would rather spend that time building or programming. Unfortunately I need to write them and I need to improve them.
Recently I completed the instruction manual for the new version of DAGU's puppy robot kit. As well as the usual assembly and wiring instructions I put a lot of work into explaining how the code worked and even how to upload the code via the ISP socket and re-burn the bootloader.
The manual ended up being 26x A4 pages. The manual needs to be A5 size to fit in the box but we don't want writing and instructions so small you need a magnifying glass to read it. If we re-wrote it for A5 size then it would double the number of pages to 52 and the cost of the manual affects the cost of the final product.
As I was always going to have it available as a PDF, both on the CD and on my product support site we have decided not to print the manual which will help reduce the cost of the kit.
So here is my delima.. What is better? keeping the instructions as PDF only? This reduces the cost of the kit and saves wasting paper (and trees). Or should we continue to print manuals even though most people have a printer at home and could get the PDF printed if they really prefer a printed version?
So you know what I am talking about, you can download the manual here: