Have you ever opened a new gadget or appliance and not been able to make head nor tail of the product manual? I have! There’s nothing worse. You get your brand new item home, excited to start using it, only to find that the manual is full of jargon, so you give up and try and work it out yourself.
We all know that isn’t a great idea. Nine times out of ten we’ll end up so frustrated that it remains in the box until we’re calm enough to give the manual another go, or get someone else to take a look at it. This is a huge waste of time but equally as maddening.
Even more frustrating than jargon? Having to try and break down instructions only given in one language! Many of us travel and the world is a far more accessible place today – thus multilingual manuals are not only incredibly useful but actually a requirement for the way we live today. The manual may look daunting with all that content, but so too will the product if you can’t read the instructions in your own language.
The best and easiest instructions to navigate, I find, are those that break down the steps with pictures. Illustrated manuals are incredibly useful when working with products. What may seem like common sense for one can be completely alien to another. Furniture, appliances, gadgets – if I can see what I need to do I’m not only ten times more likely to get it done, but I’m one hundred times more likely to get it right first time round!
Have you ever read a manual’s instructions, only to find that, for example, ‘Part 1a’ and ‘Part 1b’ are apparently different, but aren’t marked as such? Illustrations not only provide confirmation and clarity but also break the instructions down into very basic steps which are easy for everyone to follow. Masses of text can be incredibly daunting and ruin the experience of purchasing a new product – who really wants to get home after a day of work to try and break down yet another set of instructions? Not me, that’s for sure.
In an ever-inclusive world we need to ensure that the needs of all are met in everything we do. For most of us the experience of reading a manual can seem a big undertaking, but what about those who struggle with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties? For them, illustrated manuals are not just helpful, but essential. Furthermore, many of us are visual learners – we learn better by viewing instruction than by reading them. Simplicity is key in ensuring accessibility for all but also ease of instruction.
Dependent on the size of the product, manuals may be small or hard to read, therefore visuals and graphics are essential to ensuring customers are aware of the steps they need to take to use their product, and a crucial element of any good product manual.
Do you have any horror stories about following product manuals? Comment below!
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