"The rest of the story" (WAS: another twist for instructions)

Subject: "The rest of the story" (WAS: another twist for instructions)
From: Sue Fomby <fomby -at- mindspring -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 22:18:30 -0500

In the digest I received yesterday, someone reported, and several people commented on, the story about the "guy instructions" that came with a wheeled wood carrier. That story was originally an item in Fred Langa's "LangaList Plus" newsletter on Monday. Fred's given me permission to pass along his opinion -- as the (attempted!) user -- of those instructions:

> Feel free to feed this back to the group, if you wish. Because I was
> discussing the item for its humor, I omitted some details. The
> instructions were actually far worse than I let on! Because of the way
> some parts interlock, the sequence of assembly actually is key. It's
> also nonobvious, as evidenced by the fact that the full instruction
> details gets the sequence wrong!

<paragraphs deleted because of quoting rule>

> The most glaring flaw in the whole thing is that lack of an exploded
> view. A good, 3D exploded view, plus the "guy instructions," might
> have been enough. But instead they provide only tiny, flat 2D
> representations (plan and elevation) of the completed 3D object:
> There is no perspective view and no exploded view to show the
> relationship of parts to each other; or to suggest sequence.
> So, while the "guy" instructions are cute in a kind of retro,
> un-pc way, they're really useless because even the totality
> of the instructions--- full instructions, "guy" and 2d illustrations---
> fail to give all the information needed to perform the assembly
> in the correct sequence. The user is left to trial and error.
> It has all the earmarks of instructions written by someone so
> familiar with the process that they've forgotten what it's like
> to be doing it for the first time. To the writer, the assembly
> probably seems obvious or (that red-flag word) "intuitive."
> But if they had a good tech writer, approaching the process
> with fresh eyes, they would have seen that at the least, they
> needed an exploded view and better sequencing information. 8-)

The moral of which, I suppose, is that we still need Real Tech Writers, even -- no, make that *especially*! -- in Kentucky.

Sue Fomby
Louisville (a tech writer, but NOT one employed by a wood-carrier manufacturer!)


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