Wednesday, January 27, 2010
On the reality show, Quillin approached a panel of well-established entrepreneurs, asking them to invest in her company. Quillin cannot say how her meeting went, although it will play out on national television this week. "I feel like I accomplished the world," Quillin said. "I was taking a risk just by getting in there. I was just thankful when I went through the door (to meet the panel)."
A little over two years ago, Quillin barely had the product completed when she started focusing on the instructions and contacted Infographics for help. "I knew the instructions would be critical to the success of customers keeping the product once they received it," stated Quillin. "After working so hard to acquire my customer, I knew a well-designed instruction sheet would be the best possible hope for my customers to stay 'in-love' with the product and have a positive experience using it."
Infographics' response: Whoever said that instructions have to be boring? Sometimes style is a significant consideration - even when it comes to instructions. According to Sara Christensen, Infographics' creative director, "we developed a two-tone retro look that was a major component of the design language for this project. Jill had a definite style of her own and we felt that style needed to be reflected in all communications related to her unique product."
"Infographics delivered in every aspect (design, copy, illustrations, etc.) and I can report that I have not had one return out of 1,000 systems sold to date!" said Quillin. "As an added bonus, the money I invested in my instruction sheet converted into a savings when I set up my company website as all the beautiful illustrations Infographics created were a perfect fit for my home page."
Friday, January 22, 2010
According to the U.N. Program on Aging, one in ten people worldwide is now 60 years and older. By 2050, one in five will be 60 or older—and in more developed regions, it will be one in three. Even with increased social awareness of the need to serve an aging population, many companies still fail to understand how marketing specific information to better accommodate this population and making simple design changes can greatly accommodate older consumers.
Simpler easy-to-see, easy-to-use and understand product documentation IS a real need and too many product manufacturers cashing in on this growing demographic, are ignoring it!
I contend that a manufacturer of products for the older population could actually gain market share by having product documentation designed with their needs in mind by using it as a bonus product feature in their marketing. I say this not only because Infographics could help these companies, but because it hits home with me personally in dealing with aging parents and in dealing with age…"ahem"…myself!
For further reading on this topic, check out this article by Brand Channel: Engaging the Aging, Marketing to Europe’s Seniors.
Monday, January 18, 2010
It also prompted us to do a quick internet search to see if any other instructions had been recalled. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, just a year prior 64,000 Wiring a House instructional books published by Taunton Press were recalled for the very same reasons. Additionally, within the past year 18,000 illuminated round rocker switches sold by RadioShack Corp., were recalled because the wiring diagram on the switch’s package showed the neutral and line notation was reversed, posing a shock hazard to consumers. Stamina Products recalled 11,000 elliptical machines and modified the warning/assembly instructions in the owner’s manuals to emphasize that the elliptical pedal shafts must be securely tightened to the cranks. If not securely tightened, the pedal shafts could become loose from the cranks, which could result in serious injury to the user.
Our experience has shown that many companies fail to calculate, track or, even consider the cost of the risks they take by under-valuing the importance of the quality of their instructions. Risks that can take away those profits (for instance by recalls, unnecessary customer service calls) and result in the loss of market share, and more.
Many of our potential clients simply don’t budget enough money or time for their instructions (they seem to be an “afterthought” in the product development and launch schedule) and opt to spend the bulk of their money on sales support material. We understand that they are in the business to make money and selling the products is paramount to that concept. On the flip side, recalls like these are just one of many financial risks of underestimating the value of producing accurate and comprehensive instructions.
Why these particular instances happened and how these folks address it in the future must be identified before they can be avoided. It’s possible these “mistakes” stem from the lack of quality control and accuracy check points or the lack of physical testing of the instructions by actual users to verify them as accurate and safe.
Instruction manuals (and how-to books) continue to be, for many manufacturers, a requirement on which they invest a minimal amount of their product’s cost. For these publishers, the problem may have stemmed from common assumptions—the content and copy were fact-checked and proofread for spelling and grammar—the illustrators followed the experts' lead—therefore it must be right.
So what’s the answer? Hire the instruction experts? Partner with Infographics and they’ll do everything flawlessly? Now that’s a pretty big claim, and not one that many humans can or should make. What Infographics can offer are processes and collaborative ideas to substantially LOWER the risks of mistakes. We first recognize who the “content expert” is and it’s seldom us. Our niche is creating the means to communicate to other “non-experts”. We respect the manufacturer, engineer, product designer, scientist, inventor, researcher or writer (content experts) who provide the facts. We then respectfully challenge them and their content IF we don’t understand it ourselves right away. Combined with our skills in creating effective visual and verbal instructions, we can substantially lower the risks of mistakes.
Yes, we realize the experts know more than we do about their product/content, but WE need to understand it on our level to effectively communicate it to the audience who, like us, often does not have the expertise of the manufacturers and engineers. Once the content experts and our team come to an understanding based on our mutual respect of what we both do, the process begins.
We collaborate and create content for the end-users they can relate to and understand, and not necessarily in the way our experts can relate to all the time. To assure accuracy, both sides (experts/Infographics) stay intimately involved in making sure the content is accurate no matter how it is communicated—continuously pushing back on each other to make the information clear and accurate.
For the best results, we have our solutions checked by giving the instructional piece to a sampling of the targeted audience (by far the most important people in our process) to try to use and then critique.
The bottom line: Lowering the risks of recalls or injuries takes an investment too few are willing to make upfront. These recent recalls are examples of what NOT making adequate investments in instructions can cost for those who don’t.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Quick reference guides have become a specialty of ours—communicating key information in a concise and visually-based form can make the difference between a positive experience and frustration.