Extending Product Affordances to User Manuals
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPavel N, Zitkus: EXTENDING PRODUCT AFFORDANCES TO USER MANUALS. In: Berg A, Bohemia E, Buck L, Gulden T, Kovacevic A, Pavel N. Proceedings of E&PDE 2017 - International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education. Building Community: Design Education for a Sustainable Future, 2017. The Design Society
User instructions or user manuals are instructional booklets designed with the goal of providing an overview of a product and essential information for the user to operate the product. According to a study, users tend to avoid both paper manuals and electronic issues. The study found that users have difficulty connecting the instructions with the practice of using the products. Conventionally, user manuals are included with products in packaging and contain detailed information about the features and benefits of the product. As increasing numbers of products are being digitally integrated, and paper manuals (and updates) are becoming obsolete, they are being rapidly replaced by other media, such as video and software wizard guides. However, paper manuals remain used in the most first-use situations. The aim of this study is to provide an alternative way of designing manuals, where user-intended learning outcomes of manuals are matched with appropriate learning processes or methods. Therefore, a pedagogical approach to the design of instruction manuals is adopted. PID is the practice of creating “instructional experiences that make the acquisition of knowledge and skills more efficient, effective, and appealing.”. PID theory has been applied mainly in schools in context of course planning. However, its application to manuals can illustrate from a pedagogical perspective how design can help users connect instructions to their living practice. In this study, the participants, who were placed in the roles of users and designers, extended the focus of the original manual and introduced different dimensions of product usage in different contexts. They addressed product affordances in a step-by-step guide in which the improvisation space was minimal. In addition they focused on applications of the product in different usage situations in which the manuals have more of the inspirational role. Based on the findings of this study, participants tried to express product affordances in the user manuals.