Task 1: Creating an Instruction Manual

When we were given Task 1 on our first day back after our Easter break, the first thing that I did was read through the brief several time before highlighting key aspects that I thought were the most important. Below I have written these main points as I was unable to copy and paste the PDF file.

“… Design and produce an instruction manual, to include the information you will be learning on this module.”

“… Ongoing task…”

“… Technical tests and data (including how to make a pinhole camera)…”

“Design the information in an accessible way.”

“… Design/layout and formatting for your manual needs to be your own work.”

“… You will need to add to the Moodle online forum good/bad instruction manuals… Post links or examples of at least 2 instruction manuals you find unhelpful and 2 instruction manuals you have found supportive to learning… Write a sentence to each post explaining why you think it is a good or bad example of an instruction manual.”

After completing this, I knew that the next step to take would be to research a variety of different instruction manuals to influence my final product. As this is an ongoing task, I thought that the sooner I completed my research the better. This would allow me to keep organized by updating my instruction manual as I was learning new things. Below, I have looked at six different types of instruction manuals and have stated the main characteristics, what I like, and what I don’t like about each.

 

eHow (Online)http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_6617370_make-pinhole-camera-pringles-can.html

Ehow 1

Ehow 2

Ehow 3

Ehow 4

Main attributes:

  • Online
  • Description
  • Skill Level (Easy, Medium, or Hard)
  • Thing’s you need
  • Instructions (In steps)
  • Sponsored links
  • Tips and warnings
  • References
  • Comments

What I like:

  • The fact that it is online – it means that it is easily accessible and can be shared through most linked digital devices; it also includes links where you can share the page on some of the popular social networking sites
  • Small description of what you are trying to make – lays everything out for the user so that there is no confusion; gives background information that some people may find interesting
  • Skill level (Easy, Medium, or Hard) – enables the user to know exactly what they are getting into before they begin
  • Gives a list of the thing that you will need – allows user to fully prepare before starting the task
  • Step-by-step instructions – there are no long paragraphs that may be seen as daunting for the viewer; gets straight to the point with no confusion; the user can estimate roughly how long the process will take
  • Tips and warnings – shows the user the “Do’s and Don’ts” throughout the making and gives helpful tips

What I don’t like:

  • Sponsored links – although I know that the website is using these sponsored links to get money, I find them highly distracting and somewhat annoying; some of them aren’t even related to the article that I am reading
  • Format – the main information that I am trying to receive has been squashed over to the left hand side in a very narrow column; there are lots of different sponsored links that take over the majority of the page and are sometimes found between the steps
  • There are no use of photos to describe different steps – this gives the overall page a bland look which makes it less aesthetically pleasing and approachable to the user; I would also like to use the photos as a tool to show me if I have completed a step correctly

How to make a Pinhole camera with Justin Quinnell (Tutorial) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EBebehUgPE

Main attributes:

  • Online
  • Description
  • Visual representation – can see the steps as they are saying them
  • Time scale and the ability to pause
  • Other useful links

What I like:

  • The fact that it is online – it means that it is easily accessible and can be shared through most linked digital devices; it also includes links where you can share the page on some of the popular social networking sites
  • Small description of what you are trying to make – lays everything out for the user so that there is no confusion
  • Visual representation of each step as the person is saying them – shows the user exactly how to complete each step
  • The video’s time scale – lets the user know roughly how long the process will take them
  • The users ability to pause the video – allows the user to control the rate at which they are being taught how to do something; they can pause and rewind to important parts they have missed, or fast-forward past steps they already know; the user has the control
  • Other useful links – if the video tutorial that the user is watching is not as helpful as they would like, the video search engine provides links to other videos on the same topic

What I don’t like:

  • The rate of showing is too fast – although using this type of instruction allows the user to stop the video and revise certain points, the rate at which the person is talking cannot be slowed down; if I have to constantly keep pausing and rewinding, I am using up valuable time and will, at this point, start to get frustrated; the user may feel rushed
  • Can only really be viewed on a laptop – even though this digital era has released impressive smartphones that allow the viewing of online videos, some owners do not have the data package to allow them to view them
  • People doing the tutorial – occasionally it is hard for the user to understand the person doing the video tutorial because of accents or language barriers; in some cases, subtitles are provided but these take away from the visual learning that is occurring
  • Finding different results – unfortunately, if I were to type into the search engine a topic that I thought was straight forward, millions of hits would come up and it is then our job to take the time to sift through them to find the best one for us; this is very time consuming

Samsung GT-S5830i – Quick Start Guide:

Samsung 3

Samsung 4

Main attributes:

  • Print
  • Small booklet
  • Instruction icons
  • Step-by-step
  • Diagrams
  • Tables

What I like:

  • The fact that it is printed – print instruction manuals are more hands on and provide the relevant information straight away; there is no need for the user to search online as all of the information is already in front of them; it easy to find
  • Step-by-step instructions – there are no long paragraphs that may be seen as daunting for the viewer; gets straight to the point with no confusion; the user can estimate roughly how long the process will take
  • The use of diagrams – internationally excepted; different countries will be able to understand the same diagrams; shows the user exactly how to do the process and enables them to see where they have gone wrong; it is a visual step-by-step guide
  • Tips and warnings – shows the user the “Do’s and Don’ts” throughout the making and gives helpful tips and warnings
  • The use of tables – enables the viewer to home in on important information

What I don’t like:

  • It is a small booklet – it is easy to loose; everything in the booklet is smaller (i.e. font and diagrams) which makes it hard for the user to see, especially if they are suffering from bad eye sight; doesn’t contain all the relevant information that it needs as it is just a quick start up guide
  • The language used – it is not the actual English language that they use that I have a problem with, but the technical Jargon that they have used to describe certain things; I feel like a glossary is needed
  • The black and white colour – the simple black and white colour scheme of the booklet may save money on printing costs for the company, but it is incredibly boring to look at; this may put the user off

Ikea Besta Shelf Unit (47×15) Instructions:

Ikea Besta Shelf Unit 47×15

Main attributes:

  • Print
  • Descriptions (in different languages)
  • Diagrams (step-by-step)

What I like:

  • The fact that it is printed – print instruction manuals are more hands on and provide the relevant information straight away; there is no need for the user to search online as all of the information is already in front of them; it easy to find
  • Small descriptions at beginning (in different languages) – lays everything out for the user so that there is no confusion; internationally accepted
  • Use of diagrams – internationally excepted; different countries will be able to understand the same diagrams; shows the user exactly how to do the process and enables them to see where they have gone wrong; it is a visual step-by-step guide

What I don’t like:

  • No words only diagrams – sometimes the diagrams can be slightly confusing, and the use of key words would enhance the users understanding
  • The black and white colour – the simple black and white colour scheme of the booklet may save money on printing costs for the company, but it is incredibly boring to look at; this may put the user off

Nosh for Students: A Fun Student Cookbook: 

Cookbook 1

Cookbook 2

Cookbook 3

Main attributes:

  • Contents page
  • Introduction
  • Simple Key (includes cost, skill level, how many people it will feed, preparation time, cooking time, cooling time, vegetarian option)
  • What you will need
  • Step-to-step
  • Photos

What I like:

  • The fact that it is printed – print instruction manuals are more hands on and provide the relevant information straight away; there is no need for the user to search online as all of the information is already in front of them; it easy to find
  • The use of a contents page – the use of a contents page allows the user to see what the book has to offer at a quick glance; it makes it easier for the viewer to find what they are searching for which therefore makes it less time consuming
  • An introduction – introduces what the book is about, enabling the user to see if it is the right instruction manual for them
  • The unique use of a simple key – it is an aspect of the book which separates it from other student recipe books; gives the viewer the main information in one, distinct place
  • Gives a list of the thing that you will need – allows user to fully prepare before starting the task
  • Step-by-step instructions – there are no long paragraphs that may be seen as daunting for the viewer; gets straight to the point with no confusion; the user can estimate roughly how long the process will take
  • The use of photos – gives the cookbook an aesthetic appeal; shows the user what the end product could look like; the user can use this as a tool to show what they are aiming for
  • The use of written humour – appeals to the target user of this particular student cookbook; makes the whole instruction manual a lot less boring!

What I don’t like:

  • Nothing! – I know it sounds unbelievable, but I personally can’t find anything that I don’t like about this cookbook! This instruction manual contains everything that I look for in a book like this

PhotoPlus Magazine – Canon Pro Tips (Portraits):

Magazine 1

Magazine 2

Magazine 3

Magazine 4

Main attributes:

  • Tips (rather than instructions)
  • Good and bad examples (compare and contrast)
  • Technical aspects

What I like:

  • The fact that it is printed – print instruction manuals are more hands on and provide the relevant information straight away; there is no need for the user to search online as all of the information is already in front of them; it easy to find
  • Tips – shows the user the “Do’s and Don’ts” throughout the doing and gives helpful tips
  • Good and bad examples of photographs – gives the user an example of what works and what doesn’t; can be used as a comparison tool to the users own images; gives the user a visual representation of what they are trying to achieve
  • Showing the technical settings  – tells the user exactly what settings to put their camera on to achieve the ‘look’ they are trying to capture

What I don’t like:

  • Not a step-by-step instruction layout– it isn’t step-by-step as this isn’t the style of the magazine, they are trying to give tips on how to improve, and not actually telling the user exactly how to do something
  • Smallness of photos showing the technical settings – I think the most important photos are those showing the camera settings that the magazine are suggesting to use; these photos are very small and can be hard to see for some people

After looking at all of these types of instruction manual, I have been able to understand what I feel makes a great manual. For the creation of my instruction manual, I will therefore mix and match certain aspects that I like to create my own, original instruction booklet. Below I have included a list of things that I plan on including:

  • The use of a contents page
  • An introduction
  • The unique use of a simple key
  • Gives a list of the thing that you will need
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • The use of photos
  • The use of written humour

So why am I planning on showing my influence through using these aspects? I feel that these certain characteristics help to simplify the instruction process. I think that over complicating the manual will frustrate the user more as they are referring to this booklet as an easy way of tackling a challenging task. Making the manual too detailed will just add to the challenge and could create a conflict between the book and the user.

After deciding which aspects I’d wish to include in my own instruction manual, I then thought that the best idea would be to plan what medium I wish to show my own instruction manual. I decided that I wanted to create an instruction manual that can be viewed online and can also be printed. This is because an online publication is more accessible to the digital natives and it allows it to be easily shared through the common linked digital devices. I would also like to give the user an option of printing it as well, because, as stated above, it makes it more hands on and provides the relevant information straight away; there is no need for the user to search online as all of the information is already in front of them.

After much consideration, I finally decided that the best format for me to create my instruction manual in is the PDF. Creating a PDF will allow it to be viewed online but will also give the user the choice to print a copy if needed. The fact that it will be a PDF means that it will also be able to be viewed on a variety of different multimedia devices and will also enable the user to share the guide through their individual linked digital devices.

152MC Working with Light - Lighting Instruction Manual

By Holly Constantine

44 pages, published 5/12/2013

This Working with Light instruction manual provides a simple step by step guide that is easy to understand for people of all ages and abilities. With well written and illustrated instructions, it makes the hardest tasks stress-free whilst still providing a detailed description of what you need to do. It covers a wide range of topics from the technical to the creative.

As you can see from my instruction manual above, I created it using Adobe InDesign CS6. I then placed this exported PDF onto the popular website MagCloud, which then converted this PDF into an actual printable book. I then changed a number of settings in the “Sell and Distribute” panel, which included how I wanted the book to be bound and whether I wanted to offer a free online PDF.

Creating it this way means that the medium in which the user wants to view it on is optional and consists of three different variations: online, a printed book, and a PDF. This makes this instruction manual almost accessible as possible and will allow the user to individually choose which way is suitable for them.

However, the free PDF is only available if the user were to buy a hard copy of the instruction manual, as MagCloud obviously need to create a profit. This does hinder my original plan, as most people wanting to use this will be unlikely to be willing to buy the book. It is, nevertheless, still viewable online which is appropriate for the number of digital natives that will most likely be the majority of the users.

The users will also be able to look at this instruction manual in a physical way, but they will just have to spend a small fee of $10 plus postage and packaging. One problem with this, though, is that the print cannot be made available immediately. I have sent off to receive a hard copy of this manual and was only willing to pay the minimum postage and packaging, which has meant that I will not be receiving the book until two weeks time.

The copies that I have supplied to the examiner consist of a PDF file and the printed PDF (the original idea I wanted to try and uphold). Having done this, I actually found a problem with my initial idea, which can in some cases enhance the new medium concept. When I printed off the PDF, I soon realized that the pages obviously didn’t print double sided, this meant that there were a number of blank pages if I were to lay it out as the book format suggested and so had to make an executive decision to staple them in the right order but not in the correct layout.

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