• Process
  • Example: Manual of the Future

Case Study 2

Manual of the Future

two frequency converters in the wild scene from customer workshop
Goal To create a set of long-term visions for how a manual for an industrial motor controller would look in 5-10 years.
  • video of customer profile and work environment
  • video of usage qualities of manual
  • report outlining five distinct visions
  • Process In order to create compelling, plausible visions we started the process by visiting customers and trying to understand the environment that they work in, and how they use the product manual. We video taped the field studies and customer workshops in order to provide convincing evidence for our design ideas.

    The field studies not only kept our design ideas relevant to the customers but were the source of ideas to improve the manual.

    Sample Results

    Example 1

    Customers spoke about tactile things like "pumps", "torque" and "speed", while the manual and product interface used abstract terms like "motors", "current" and "frequency". A design opportunity was identified that the manual could be clearer if it spoke the language of the customers. From the field studies we learned that the product manuals were also used to design systems with motors, so a specific design idea was to include "recipes" describing how motor controllers were used in various real-world contexts.

    Insights arising from the field study led directly to the identification of a general design opportunity and specific, new design idea.

    Example 2

    From the field studies we knew that a major use of the manuals was to look up the error codes that appear on the product interface. (e.g. "Alarm 12") Our gut-reaction was to replace the cryptic codes on the interface with the more informative messages in the manual. However, we found that the resellers of the product often had to support their customers, and if they were diagnosing a problem over the phone, an error code was better than a verbose message (especially when dealing with foreign customers). When re-designing the future product interface, we kept the numerical error codes while we added a detailled explanation for the code.

    The field studies also helped us to identify aspects of the existing product that worked well, and should not be changed in future versions.



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