09 September 2010


What the least read book in the world?

The owner’s manual.

What fraction of your owner’s manuals have read completely? Your car? Your digital camera? Your graphics software?

Recently, I put up a Venn diagram showing what people put on posters versus what people want from posters. That resonated with some ideas that Kathy Sierra discussed in an online presentation. in particular, she showed another version of this figure from from her brilliant and much-missed Creating Passionate Users blog.

Which attracts you and makes you want to learn more?

Most posters look more like less like the brochures on the left and a lot more like the owner’s manuals on the right. I think posters look like owner’s manuals because people are aping journal articles.

Remember the trap? Making a poster is often the first time you’re thinking through the data. And it’s easy to think more about, “How is that data is going to go into the paper I eventually want to publish?” than “What’s right for the poster?”

Related posts

Should your first presentation be a poster?

Poster Venn


Michael Hughes said...

When I did usability testing for "out of the box" software products, we often saw users throw away quick start cards that had high production values. Turned out they thought it was marketing stuff and they threw it out with the other advertising that was in the box. We ended up "toning down" the look of "useful" documentation so it would not get lumped in with the salesy stuff.

Zen said...

Oh, wow.

Now that is interesting.

It speaks volumes to a lot of things. In part, I think, it speaks to low expectations. People are so used to being bored by manuals, they can’t quite imagine being treated well.