When your users need to look up a function or command, do they wade through hundreds of pages to find their answer? If your software product or programming language is complex, a reference card could be the perfect way to make it easier for your customers to use. It can educate new users and provide experienced users with a “cheat sheet.”
The more complex your product is or the longer the documentation, the more you need a reference card.
You’ve already made the sale: why should you care?
It’s not enough to sell your software –you need to make sure it is being used. Whether a business application, a game, or a parallel programming API; making great software and getting it into users’ hands isn’t the end of your job. For your software to grow into a mature product that users will upgrade for years to come, you need users to integrate it into their regular routines.
Help turn casual users into experts by giving them tools to make your product as easy for them to use as possible. A reference card is a great way to help beginners as well as turn experts into power users. These vocal users inspire others to use your product by instructing others, showing off what it can do, participating in user groups and forums, and blogging about their experiences and productive results with your product.
Multiplying the benefit
Of course, including it in your software package is just one of many ways you can use a reference card. Use it in your training program. Give batches of them to your sales team. Put a PDF version on your website then feature it in banner ads across the internet to bring potential customers to your site (one company had over 330,000 downloads in one year!). Use them as on-topic giveaways at tradeshows and events — representing and promoting your product much better than a pen, t-shirt, or plush toy ever could. This is a giveaway that your users will not throw away. Some companies even sell their cards to offset production costs.
Getting it done
Okay, I admit that while I think reference cards are a great idea no matter how you produce them, this is what Miller & Mattson specializes in. Check out a few samples of what I’m talking about. Do you want to talk about a reference card for your business? Let’s talk!
The moral of the story
Succeed by helping your users succeed. Don’t stop with the sale of your API or software product. Create power users and cultivate existing customers into continuous “upgrade” customers by making your software or API as easy as possible for them to use.
Click a tag for related posts:agencies audiences Basecamp blog brand business community computers customer support editing email estimates fonts freelance gadgets graphics iPad job hunting logos mac marketing messaging Outlook packaging planning PowerPoint presentations productivity product review professionalism project management projects recommendations resume reviews self publishing social media stock photography Technology tradeshows virtual meetings web design windows Word writing
- Virtual Meeting Tip: Sound
- Can we reduce travel to business meetings?
- A Blog Post about Blogging
- Serious Layout in MS Word
- A Supercomputing vocabulary primer
- Planning categories and tags for an organized blog
- Improving Your Presentations
- 1-minute Photo Improvement
- Why Do You Blog?
- Batch Processing with Affinity Photo
- The Entrepreneur’s 10-Step Condensed Business Plan
- iPad: How Old is Too Old?
- Do I Have Enough to Quit My Day Job?
- Leave Localization to the Pros
- Make Your Calendars Play Nice Together
- Free Graphics Sources
- Mirrored Margins in MS Word
- A Tale of Three Headsets
- Time to Move On
- The Event Plan: a Tradeshow Primer
- GoToWebinar Basics
- Outlook for Mac: So Close!
- From Windows to Mac
- Evernote is Awesome
- Set Up a DocBook Toolchain
- Your Professional Resume
- Stock Photography Tips
- Tricking Your Customers is Disrespectful
- Deadline Management
- Manage To-dos With Basecamp
- The Brydge+ iPad Keyboard
- LinkedIn for Job Seekers
- Week Numbers in Outlook
- Hidden Impacts of Project Schedule Delays
- Getting Started in Self-publishing
- 13 Tips for Your Blog or Newsletter
- Do Religion and Marketing Mix?
- Consistent Color = Brand Power
- Outlook Automation with “Quick Steps”
- Comment Spam: I Give Up
- Good Design Housekeeping
- File Naming Sanity
- PowerPoint Graphics Tips
- Comment Karma
- Comparing Two iPad Keyboards: ZAGG and Logitech
- Outlook Rules 101
- Consolidated Outlook Inbox
- Five Steps to Plan a Website
- Choosing a Domain
- Outlook Productivity: Tagged Searching
- Considering a Switch from Windows to Mac?
- Tradeshow Giveaways & Promotional Gifts
- Why Rush Jobs Are Evil
- Online Printing: Customer Service is King
- Estimate Etiquette
- Getting Organized With Outlook PSTs
- WordPress vs. Weebly
- Comparing 5 Online PM Tools
- Choosing your Next Non-Mac Computer
- Is it Really a Blog?
- Your Laptop’s Video Connectors
- Know Your Graphics – or Look Like You Do
- Add a Keyboard to Your iPad
- Letterhead in an Email World
- Use Simple URLs
- Keep in Touch with Your Customers With Email
- Rolling Up the Feedback
- Keep Agency Project Costs Down
- Merchandising and Your Brand
- Your Email Address and Your Brand
- B2B Social Media: Are you overlooking StumbleUpon?
- Email Marketing vs. Spam
- The Long-copy Sales Page in 5 Steps
- You Need a Writing Style Guide
- Why Reference Cards?
- Lose the Hyphen!
- The Minimalist Marketing Plan
- Your Business Name and Domain
- Trade Downloads For User Data
- Monitor Social Media For Product Feedback
- Take Every Branding Opportunity
- Messaging 101
- Creative Use of Your Customer Service Stories
- Don’t Stop With a Call To Action
- Creating a Text-based Logo
- The Reluctant Social Media Networker
- Save Money With an Effective RFQ
- User Communities and Exclusivity
- Recommendations and Your Reputation
- The iPad As Business Tool