Quick start guide process

Head of Strategy

At Make it Clear, we follow a four stage process for all of our work – Definition, Solution, Implementation, and Optimisation.

The activities we complete at each of these stages differ depending on the project, however, they always include some form of objective setting and initial research, conceptual design solutions, testing and the production of final designs that are either built by development teams or printed to be shipped with products. 

We’ve outlined the key activities we undertake as part of the process of creating a quick start guide (QSG). This includes tips to ensure your quick start guides are fit for purpose and considerations around maintaining and updating your new product documentation.


We take an evidence-based approach to everything we do. This means understanding our client’s business, their audiences and the context in which they interact.



As with every project, we first define objectives, discuss the challenges, what success looks like and key metrics. Ideally the success metrics should be based on existing benchmarks such as NPS score, customer service calls or engineer call outs.


Audience definition

One of the most important activities within the definition stage is to define the target audience that will be using the quick start guide. We then outline the potential scenarios the quick start guide needs to support, in some cases different variations of the guide may be required. For example, scenarios could include variations in the combination of products and services a customer has purchased, new product upgrades, or, as we’ve seen with internet providers, customers may even need to be sent a guide to help as they move and get set up in their new home.


Existing content audit 

Many of the quick start guide projects we work on tend to have some form of existing guides or product set up information available. We spend a lot of time reviewing how the current process works and looking at ways to improve it. This includes familiarising ourselves with the product, setting up processes and the key information required for a customer to get started quickly.



Once we have a good understanding of the product and any existing information, we begin conducting research. The level of research differs from project to project but as a minimum we would cover the following activities: stakeholder interviews, competitor review, customer observations and a survey to collect quantitative feedback. Each of these activities serves a specific purpose that can help to uncover insight into challenges and opportunities for improving the customer experience with the quick start guide.


Reporting and recommendations 

Following all research, we produce a report which details the findings of the activity and outlines recommendations and considerations to inform the success of the project. Generally, our research report for a quick start guide will include comments on the existing materials and customer challenges. This may cover suggestions on the most suitable format(s) for the quick start guide, the level of information required and the order in which that information should be delivered, noting any areas of potential confusion that should be highlighted.



We work in close collaboration with our clients to produce design solutions that support customers and deliver results for the business.


Guide structure

Quick start guides help customers install or set up a product or service, removing the need for customer service or engineer support. Relevant information must be communicated clearly and at the right time. To set expectations, start by outlining the equipment and steps a customer has to take in order to get set up. This can be a bulleted list, but it must include sufficient details. Usually quick start guides are printed, however If you’re creating guides in other formats such as video or in-app, consider how the way you present content might need to change.



Here we build out the guide structure into a basic visual map, outlining the flow of content and considering supporting elements that need to be included. The wireframes will ultimately form the basis of the final guide layout so it’s important to spend time working on different options and if possible testing with customers.


Design concepts

Once we’re happy with the wireframes, we then create visual concepts for how the final design could look. This includes use of photography, icon styles, colours and any other relevant supporting elements. Generally we produce 2-3 concepts and review with the client. In most cases, our concepts are informed by existing brand guidelines. As quick start guides are a crucial part of the customer journey, it’s key that they make sense and fit cohesively with any other communications or brand assets. Testing

We advise testing as much as possible with real customers. This may not always be possible, so as a rule we aim for at least one round of testing to assess the visual guides. This includes a report and recommendation on areas of both strengths and weaknesses, along with recommendations on improvements.



Based on the findings of the user testing and feedback from our client we work iteratively to finalise the quick start guides. Once approved by the client, we move to the implementation stage.



We work closely with the appropriate client teams to properly plan and execute the implementation phase in a cost effective and efficient way.



Once the designs are approved, they go to our artworking team for final checks. Depending on the format of the guide the artwork process may vary – print files are different to assets for a website. In all cases, the artworking stage includes setting up processes to ensure quality and consistency throughout. This is the last chance to check everything is correct, especially with printed guides where you can’t make changes once they’ve been produced!



Whether print or digital, we provide support throughout the production process. From quality checks to advising on the type of paper or using sustainable inks – choices made in production are treated with the same level of consideration and quality as the information in the guides themselves.



Any solution is only as valuable as the results it delivers for our client, we work with client teams to establish appropriate measurements to track the impact of our outputs. This could include tracking NPS scores or the number of customer service calls. Results gathering

Following launch, we work with our client to conduct research often in the form of surveys and observations which help track the success of our design solutions. The feedback is used to inform ongoing improvements and helps us monitor what works and what doesn’t for our client’s customers.


Guide management

From inventory control to software updates, the quick start guide process doesn’t end when the first version of the guide is finalised. In our experience, quick start guides need to be regularly monitored and updated – often due to technical improvements or even a new version of the product being launched.


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