Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The power of visual instructions - driving license renewal

A while ago I renewed my driving licence.
A month later I received a letter with the new sticker that would extend it's validity. Intructions on where to place the sticked were given within the letter text.

"attach the sticker over the second box in the upper left corner of the rear of your driving licence"

Though it's basically attaching a sticker to a plastic card, trust me it was not simple to understand where to put it - nor to feel I wasn't wrong..

I believe visual instructions are much easier to follow and relate to than textual one.
Can you imagine what if IKEA instructions were in plain text? That would ruin the company for sure.

Back to the driving licence letter, wouldn't it be easier if the it would have had an explanatory image similar to the following one?

The purpose of instructions should be to state clearly what to do, in order to make the task easy and quick to be performed. Textual instructions are most of the time arguable and language dependent, while good visual ones can be really easy to grasp and "background-independent" (that's why they are used in airplanes).

So go for more visual instructions, don't make me think (and don't make me feel dumb) and I'll be grateful! 

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