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How to write an effective Quick-Start Guide
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Sadrienne
  • How do you make sure that new members see everything they need to, without overwhelming them? A quick-start guide! Here are some tips to writing a useful and effective quick-start guide for your RP.

    Type: Admining

THE MOUSIE GUIDE TO

Writing a Quick-Start Guide

 

How do you help potential new members navigate your site when you (and your staff) are not around? Perhaps your site has an unusual application process, lots of information available, or perhaps new members just seem to get inexplicably lost as they find their way around for the first time.

 

The answer: A quick-start guide!

 

WHAT IS IT?

A Quick-Start guide is essentially an index, or a pathway, of everything new members need to know in order to set themselves up to play. It's usually a short document that ties together any topic prospective members need to read, and actions they need to take, to get OOC accounts sorted (if applicable) and character accounts applied. It may also go further and provide the member with tasks they can do after approval, to avoid that "I'm a member, now what do I do?" moment.

 

So how do you write one? Let's start from the start.

 

STEP ONE

Make a list!

 

Start by listing all of the actions a member needs to complete from registering their first account, to applying their first character. Include any topics that they should read along the way (or topics/forums that would be super helpful). Your list may look a little something like:

 

  • Read the rules
  • Read the plot
  • Register an OOC account
  • Get your OOC account sorted
  • Read what character types we have
  • Have a look at wanted ads/needed characters
  • Register character account
  • Fill out the profile
  • Post the application
  • Link your subaccounts
  • Look at open threads
  • Start an open thread
  • Create a plotting thread
  • Join the Discord

 

This is a very basic list that might be used for a board that has both player and character accounts. You can see how it creates a logical pathway from reading those first important documentations, to getting involved, all in the rough order you would expect it to happen.

 

STEP TWO

Divide it up!

 

Take a look at your list and see if you can start to spot sections. You might have "Getting your OOC Account", "Character Development & Registration" and "Once You're Sorted". Think about the stages that members are in as they work through this list, and then add them in as headings.


GETTING YOUR OOC ACCOUNT

  • Read the rules
  • Read the plot
  • Register an OOC account
  • Get your OOC account sorted

 

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT & REGISTRATION

  • Read what character types we have
  • Have a look at wanted ads/needed characters
  • Register character account
  • Fill out the profile
  • Post the application

 

ONCE YOU'RE SORTED

  • Link your subaccounts
  • Look at open threads
  • Start an open thread
  • Create a plotting thread
  • Join the Discord

 

What these sub-headings do is help prospective members see where they are at a glance, rather than having a huge list of tasks to read down. It also breaks up the list a bit and makes it easier to follow. Sub-headings are great! Use them wherever you can.

 

STEP THREE

Write it up!

 

Using these bullet points, write a very short introduction to the link, and then post the link to where the prospective member needs to go. Don't fall into the trap of putting too much information in your Quick-Start guide, let the posts you link to do the heavy lifting. This is just an index, so try to keep your points to a sentence---two at most. Remember, you can also use a direct link to the registration page, and also to the user settings (for custom-field based applications).

 

You want this to be short, sweet, and direct focus to the links---and make sure that your links stand out as links! If your CSS has link colour very similar to the text colour, you may want to look into changing that, or using a bit of styling in the post to make sure people know it's a link. Below I've used bold text and red to note the links (they aren't links in the example, however).

 

GETTING YOUR OOC ACCOUNT

  • Check out our Rules
  • Check out our Plot
  • Register an OOC account using the name you'd like us to know you by
  • Post in Introductions to get your OOC account sorted. Welcome!

 

 CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT & REGISTRATION

  • See what character types we accept
  • Need inspiration? Have a look at our Adoptables forum for ideas!
  • Want more information about our setting? This forum has additional setting information.
  • Fill out the profileYou may want to keep it in a word processor while you work on it!
  • Post the profile in our applications forum.
  • Hold tight! Our staff will review your application within 24hrs.

 

ONCE YOU'RE SORTED

  • Link your OOC and IC accounts -- this guide shows you how!
  • Check out the list of open threads!
  • Start an open thread of your own and post it to the list!
  • Create a plotting thread to introduce your character to the community
  • Join our Discord for more chatting and crazy plot ideas!

 

 

You can see where I've re-worded some parts to more casual phrasing. "Read X, then read Y" can be abrupt, and destroy the tone of your documentation... but it's essentially what you're saying. I also added a couple of points, because... it doesn't matter how good your initial list is, you'll always think of something more while you're re-writing!

 

STEP FOUR

Style it up!

 

You're basically done, but this is where you would add in your own header styles and other things that make it really fit in with the board visually. 

 

SO THERE IT IS

Your awesome Quick-Start guide! Congratulations! I'd love to see what amazing guides this documentation helps to create! 


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Sammiie

  

Really great basic guide! 

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