One of the top principles to consider when designing an instruction manual is to “get out of the way quickly” and let the user get to work on putting the item together or using it asap. It is a mistake to over-design an instruction manual or provide too much information. Every user wants to spend as little time as possible “figuring out” what the instructions mean.
By examining instruction manuals over 2 centuries much is revealed about the time they were designed in and the society they were written for. Practicality in assembly is all about being concerned with the actual doing of something rather than ideas. When it comes to products, instruction manual designers need to be concerned with communicating to owners on how to actually use the product instead of the theory of using it.
02 – The effect of a well-designed instruction manual
Properly designed instruction manuals save time and communicate effectively enough to reduce end user frustrations. A well- made instruction manual can reduce support phone calls, lower the number of bad reviews and can help customers remain satisfied with their purchase.
03 – Instruction manuals across language barriers
Ensuring an instruction manual can be understood by every audience in the world is a difficult task. The written text copy is reduced to specific targets and a limited set of manageable demographics. Trying to write instructions for every language on earth including brail for blind users is not cost effective.
If an instruction manual is designed properly, the core concept can simply be looked at using the universally recognized language of visual instruction. When we examine some good examples of instruction manual design, it quickly becomes apparent that what we are communicating with users is how the human being needs to perform a specific set of tasks which are not readily apparent or obvious. Making the human interaction layer obvious is the key to communicating across language barriers.
04 – Real world user testing of instruction manuals
The creation of an instruction manual is only partly design – instruction manuals seek to solve a set of problems that we anticipate end users will encounter, but we must also find out about the problems we do not know they will encounter. The design process can obscure solutions or produce them depending on how goals are defined and discovered.
The process of real world user testing is a key part of good instruction manual design, especially for furniture or an assembly guide. Showing the manual to the target audience and watching how they use it, with no influence or guidance, exposes all the areas that need work. We often find that what might be good ideas in the design studio are not useful nor practical when users interact with the design booklet. For this reason, we test the designs on focus groups and closely examine users.
User submitted videos of final products, live video support, QR code scans and finished product examples that can be recognized by users cell phones and VR headsets are here! Is your company ready to explore this new world of interactive design and augmented reality?
Prizum Creative can help you establish, elevate, and grow your brand. Prizum is a Pittsburgh-based design and marketing agency that specializes in digital marketing, design, website development, SEO, and social media.