Need for an operation manual

Here’s a copy of a letter I recently sent to Jason of Rachio’s Support staff:

irror. Thanks a lot, I’m very grateful!

But I think I still have a legitimate beef with Rachio. Because of the limitations of the Apple Store, your software cannot be distributed with any accompanying documentation, and your web site does not feature any operating manual per se. The result is that to gain the necessary information by myself I would have had to visit your varied list of Help pages and then drill down a couple of further levels to find what I needed. I had no idea that I was supposed to do this, or even that it is possible. Your present system is neither as easy nor as intuitive as you folks appear to think it is. I really don’t think it is any kind of adequate substitute for an actual step-by-step operating manual (preferably illustrated by screen shot examples). I strongly recommend that you develop such a manual, one that can be downloaded, stored and printed out (and of course that would have to be updated every time you introduce some important interface change), and post it in a conspicuous place on your site, even if this requires at least temporarily hiring somebody with plenty of experience in writing this kind of stuff. It takes a certain feat of imagination to place oneself in the position of a newbie, seeing things through his eyes and understanding his needs. You’ll pardon me for saying so, but I don’t think that at the moment Rachio has anybody on its staff gifted with this particular specialized knack and I think that Rachio very much needs one.

Hi @dfs

I’m sorry to hear about your frustrations. An installation guide should have been included in the packaging - please let me know if it wasn’t.

You can also find our Rachio 3 Quick Start guide here (which includes a link to the digital installation guide.)

Also linked in the Quick Start guide and installation guide is rachio.com/more where you can learn more about what you can do with your Rachio 3. We have a similar guide for the Generation 2 here as well as a FAQ here.

Does this help?

I believe I understand your concern and suggestion. Would you like documentation, similar to the PDF file offered by for example Hunter for their X-Core residential controller? It is an owner manual and programming guide document.

It is the type of documentation I have come accustomed to for products such as Rachio, and if not available, I agree would be helpful.

Tom

That’s pretty much what I have in mind. I don’t care whether it’s a PDF document or in some other format, except I do think it needs to be copiously illustrated by screenshots.

I agree completely with everything dfs says. Your search for terms on the community forum is No substitute for a well organized manual. At times it seems that new internet companies abrogate their responsibility to teach customers about their products by leaving it to their customers to teach each other. I’m sure its tempting when there are few direct competitors in that market. Please save us time and frustration.

Thanks for all the information and feedback @laikalee, @dfs, and @TMToronto !

The community is definitely not a substitute for the manual, just a great addition to support for most. There are so many different types of set ups and customers within Rachio that it makes it difficult to create a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.

Are you all hoping for a manual regarding how to use the software? What isn’t included in the Help Center that you’d like to be included in this manual?

Hi dfs, I agree with you whole heartedly. The little folded paper start up guide does not provide much info at all, but it did show “Visit rachio.com/more” which had very helpful instructions, some with videos. I was also frustrated with the setup of the app with zones and everything. I also Googled Rachio 3 set up and found quite a few YouTube videos some of which were posted by Rachio. I was quite frustrated myself, not with the physical replacement or wiring from my “Irrigation Caddy” Controller, but in the setting up of the App. I am a 76 year old retired computer controlled machinery technician, and, well : :weary: Anyway, I got it worked out and after setting it up, I think I got it right. All my 9 zones work fine. I set up 3 different programs for different groups of zones at specific times. That’s what I’ve been comfortable with using the Irrigation Caddy unit. I did get angry myself for a while because I felt that Rachio did such a beautiful job on the hardware, including the Outdoor enclosure design, that they really fell short on instructions. I installed the unit and set it up yesterday, but It rained a lot a few hours afterwards and now has a rain delay from the weather station auto info, plus I hooked up my rain sensor to the controller. As I’m typing this, Rachio just sent me a notification that my rain sensor “deactivated” (dried enough to allow system to run when it is supposed to, maybe tomorrow) “Normal Schedules will resume”. Maybe I’m not as smart as I used to be!

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That’s exactly what I have in mind. Your software is pretty complex since it offers the user so many options (some of which require drilling down multiple layer to achieve a desired result) and not as intuitively navigated as Rachio seems to think.

I think for me there is nothing that can replace the organized layout of a well planned and presented document such as a manual and operating guide - the Hunter pdf I gave earlier is an example.

Having a document - I prefer electronic - provides an immediate overview of all the information important to the use and programming. Navigation is quick and focussed, and it even lends itself to finding topics that you never knew existed because you are seeing them within the contents section of a well structured document. This allows the user to often problem solve and discover solutions more confidently and independently.

I am someone who is a DIYer at heart, am patient, enjoy independent research and problem solving - regularly through online communities, and am interested in new technologies. For me, I will almost always find what I need. I just think a well planned and presented manual and operating guide that provides both comprehensive content overviews and details, will help many more of your residential and commercial customers.

Thank you all so much for the feedback! If you don’t mind me asking one more question - what is missing in the current Help Center content that would have been helpful?

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