Wednesday, June 23, 2010

iPad Instruction Manual
Success in Barely Existing

"Each page of an instruction manual is sign of design failure."

I'm not sure where or when I heard that phrase. I know it was a long time ago and it was about VCR's, which, nowadays, seem like the 8 tracks of the video world, don't they? VCR instruction manuals were bound volumes dozens of pages thick. Do you remember trying to set your VCR to record a TV show? It took a PhD to read the manual, the instructions were pages and pages long, and it was an anxiety provoking exercise that never seemed to work right.

Wherever I heard the phrase, the idea that instruction manuals mean design failure has been guiding light for me for a long time. Great design should make things intuitive to use, ideally without a manual or SOP.  Being a guiding light means instruction-less design is where I'm headed but I don't expect to get there. You can't necessarily eliminate instructions. But some have come very close. Apple, for one.

Pictured here, the instruction manual for Mac's iPad. It's a single index card, printed front and back. Even at two tiny pages it's probably overkill. You pick up the machine and it's obvious how to use it from moment one. 

1 comment:

Tim said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing, Mo!