Question related to "IKEA-manual".

6 Oct 2006 - 2:54am
7 years ago
5 replies
850 reads
johan.dermaut a...
2006

Hi All,

I was asked to create a user manual based on the "IKEA-manuals" (all
pictograms and drawings and NO text).

* Where do I start and who has any experience (good or bad) with
this?
* Do you recommend this type of manual or not?
* Do you know any good web sites related to the subject?

Thanks in advance.

Johan

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Comments

6 Oct 2006 - 10:34am
jbellis
2005

Johan,
I just used an ikea manual two days ago, but about as simple an example as
possible, and it struck me that it was its own form of puzzle... a rebus,
right? (See page 2 of the sample below, a different manual than the one I
used.) I happen to love puzzles, and
because my piece of furniture barely needed instructions, it was not an
impediment.

Is your manual for something simple like plugging in a phone handset or
something complex like configuring a wireless network's security? If a
message concerns substantially visual subject matter, then including visuals
is paramount. But the inclusion of images does not mean the exclusion of
words... that is a separate matter. Ikea excludes words because
1) they have a benefit (cost saving) and
2) some of their users have a benefit (not being forced to choose among
languages they don't know) and
3) Ikea can afford the risks of not using words. Can your company? Or is the
attraction of a cost saving simply overriding the benefit to users of the
last 2000 years of improving the written word? I guess there's another
option... you work for cavemen and they only know about wall drawings? Do
they all use the command line a lot?

Here's an Ikea manual I found online. Maybe studying online examples is a
starting point.

http://www.ikeafans.com/images/Rationell%20drawer%20fronts%20(for%20BPO12%20&%20HPO's).pdf

-Jack

----- Original Message -----
From: <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be>
> I was asked to create a user manual based on the "IKEA-manuals" (all
> pictograms and drawings and NO text).

6 Oct 2006 - 10:47am
Josh Seiden
2003

You might look into the field of instructional design.

Check out "Open Here: The Art of Instructional Design," and follow the
related links...

http://www.amazon.com/Open-Here-Art-Instructional-Design/dp/1556709625/sr=8-
1/qid=1160149379

JS

> -----Original Message-----

> I was asked to create a user manual based on the
> "IKEA-manuals" (all pictograms and drawings and NO text).
>
> * Where do I start and who has any experience (good or bad) with
> this?

6 Oct 2006 - 11:50am
John Schrag
2005

I gave a presentation last year at UPA about how to design interfaces
when you know your user base is reading-averse. But getting rid of text
altogether? I'm with Jack on this --- it seems extreme, unless
"reducing the cost of internationalization" is the overwhelming goal.
I'm all for the use of graphics, but I think that complete removal of
text will give you a sub-optimal result.

That being said, you might want to check out Patrick Hofmann, a guy who
specializes in this. Here's an article about him:

http://www.arts.uwaterloo.ca/arts/alumni/artsandletters/spring2005/index
.php

And here's his website: http://www.n0rmal.com/

I have never met or worked with the man, so I can't give a reference,
good or bad.

-john

-----Original Message-----
I was asked to create a user manual based on the "IKEA-manuals" (all
pictograms and drawings and NO text).

* Where do I start and who has any experience (good or bad) with
this?
* Do you recommend this type of manual or not?
* Do you know any good web sites related to the subject?

6 Oct 2006 - 2:09pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: johan.dermaut at belgacom.be
>
>* Do you recommend this type of manual or not?

Definitely maybe.

American audiences who are used to getting a manual with every item them buy, usually in eight different languages, have learned to scan quickly over the content to pick out the stuff they need. We don't read the manuals; we toss out 95% of what's there.

IKEA-type manuals don't work if you scan like that. They already have most of that 95% tossed out. Result being that for the first few IKEA manuals encountered, there's a high level of frustration. We want there to be stuff we can ignore, but there isn't.

(I liken it to the difference between reading poetry and reading novels: you have to take the time to read and process every word in a poem to "get" it. You can't go merrily along at a page a minute, maybe missing words and even sentences here and there. For heavily novel-oriented people -- like me -- reading most poetry borders on painful; we have to force ourselves into a different headspace.)

After you've put together a few pieces with these sorts of manuals, you sink into the groove and you're fine.

I would love to see a study on whether or not the manuals work better for people who regularly read comics (books, magazines, or strips; ref. McCloud). I'm inclined to think that they don't (but may not be worse, either); the narrative flow doesn't work the same way and the combo of minimalism with extreme detail packing may cause a disconnect. Might depend on the type of comics, of course.

-- Jim

6 Oct 2006 - 9:42pm
Bernie Monette
2005

> From: <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be>
> Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 09:54:41 +0200
> To: <discuss at ixda.org>
> Conversation: Question related to "IKEA-manual".
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Question related to "IKEA-manual".
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>
> Hi All,
>
> I was asked to create a user manual based on the "IKEA-manuals" (all
> pictograms and drawings and NO text).
>
> * Where do I start and who has any experience (good or bad) with
> this?
> * Do you recommend this type of manual or not?
> * Do you know any good web sites related to the subject?
>
> Thanks in advance.
>
> Johan
>
>
Johan;

It depends on what you are writing the manual for: some things simply will
not translate into this sort of thing. While IKEA has these wordless manuals
they also have support staff whose only job is to help people assemble the
furniture when the manual does not help them. Is your client prepared in a
similar way?

I think a combination of text and images, that is the usual, is best. There
are some concepts that are too difficult to describe in images alone, try
squeeze for example, and words are needed.

Cheers,

Bernie

--
Bernie Monette
InterActive Arts
Internet Presence Management
http://www.iaai.ca monette at iaai.ca 416 469 4337

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