152mc Working with Light: Good & Bad Instruction Manuals – Personal Task 1

 

For our first personal task we were invited to take a look at some of the different instruction manuals that have be written. The idea is to see not just what is good and bad about them but to also take a look at some of the options that I might prefer when making my own manual. I was required to find two good examples and two poor examples and add them to the Moodle news feed. I have also repeated the task here to demonstrate research for this task.

Good Instruction Manuals

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I have chosen two manuals that I have found useful and easy to understand. The first is a car owners manual, I always keep mine in my glove box and have used it on more than one occasion when I have not been able to understand the controls. Despite many of the functions appearing complicated the 3D diagrams with clear labels make it easy to see which button controls which function. The contents and index of the book also allow you to move quickly to the sections required and the majority of similar information can be found in the same sections. The example here is by Audi but I have found other car manufacturers to be equally as good.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 20.09.14My second choice is by Apple for its Mac Book range of computers. I really like the clean and simple method with bright clear nicely labelled images. The images used are 3D high quality and they are placed onto an uncluttered white background. There is plenty of space between the diagrams and each is clearly labeled so that you can see what relates to what.  This is more how I would like my manual to look.

Bad Instruction Manuals

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I found this as an instruction guide for people about to undergo a form of brain surgery. It was very long with many pages of drawn out complicated text. When it did use pictures they were graphic representations of the surgery involved and would terrify anyone scheduled to undergo this procedure. Overall it has around 5 photos in a book with hundreds of pages with most of the information being delivered in a text format. Anyone suffering with Parkinsons or facing surgery would be unlikely to be able to read and absorb the amount of information being presented.

For something like this a video would have been a much better way of presenting the needed information and could have been presented with greater sympathy and understanding.

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My final example comes with the typical DSLR camera. I have found both Nikon and Canon are guilty of making very large and confusing books to accompany their products. Their manuals often run to hundreds of pages with information spread out in many different parts so locating what you need is often difficult and time consuming. The manuals are so bad that companies like ‘Magic Lantern’ have re-written them and have made a good business from it. They suffer with being overly complex, information is often spread out over the manual meaning that you will need to jump between pages to find the answers you need. The ‘Magic Lantern’ company simplified the books, including all relevant details on controls without going into high end specifics.

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