"A picture is worth a thousand words."
We take advantage of this fact when it comes to designing instructions that are easy to understand with no or only a few words.
Advantages of the picture instruction
The advantage of a pure graphical instruction is that it does not have to be translated and that the printing costs, especially for consumer products, are massively reduced.
But picture instructions can also be useful in an industrial environment; for example if the target audience cannot read at all or only poorly, or if – as with a life jacket – little time is left for reading.
The challenge of comprehensibility
The biggest challenge with a pictorial instruction is the comprehensibility. Here it is necessary to design the image statement in such a way that it is unambiguous for different people. Therefore, we carefully consider whether we would recommend graphical instructions in a specific context or if a manual with text is the better choice.
Once the decision has been made in favour of a graphical instruction, we design it with maximum comprehensibility in mind. The creation of graphical instructions is always an iterative process. Technical Editors and Illustrators often think that they have developed an understandable image statement, while tests show that outsiders cannot grasp the meaning. Therefore, sufficient testing of graphical ideas is the key to success.