Friday, December 21, 2007

Are YOU Allowed to Write Like This?

Thanks to the nice folks at Signal vs. Noise for finding this tutorial.....


Peerless Faucets put together two fantastic online tutorials. One to uninstall your old faucet. The second to help you install the new one.

How often are you allowed to create things like this......

Love the pictures!!!!!

These tutorials make me want to go out and replace my bathroom faucet....even though I'm a renter and I don't have to / shouldn't.

Come to think of it, I wish I had instructions like this when I installed a water filter in the fraternity house for my "little sister project." Retelling this episode is a source of great amusement almost 20 years later.....

My tutorials are much drier. They are "approved by committee." Can't offend anyone. Gotta be "professional." What you create can and will be used against you.......

But then I think - what's really stopping me from creating something fun? Developing a tutorial that makes the person want to go out and DO that thing you are teaching them?

Fear? Some misguided sense of professionalism (which I have obviously chucked writing this blog)?

I'm currently working on a tutorial for new student employees in our Student Academic Support department. It's filled with formal "don't do this, don't do that" type stuff. The legal department has approved the text and script and the project has been in the works for over a year.

I stare at the Captivate slides, listen to the audio (capably done by some of the university's graduate students) and think that if I was a student, I'd NEVER want to work in that department. I'd be paralyzed with all of the things I shouldn't do.

The sad thing about all of this is that the folks involved in scripting the tutorial seem to be fun-loving, interesting folks. The graduate students who did the audio were friendly and engaging. I've had a great time working with these people. There has to be a way to reflect that personality in the tutorial.

I'm hoping to release a draft for review today. Maybe I can convince them that adding more of their fun-loving, engaging personality into the presentation would do more to encourage the behaviors and values they wish to instill in their new employees.

Any recommendations?


Jade said...

Too fun. A little wit and humor can go a long way in capturing attention!

I don't know that they'd be much help to me, though. I'd have a lot of guessing to do when they use terms like: "tailpiece mounting nuts and supply-but couplings nuts."

The Dare to Repair book is just right for me. It doesn't make any assumption about preknowledge, explains every bit of jargon, and illustrates pieces and tools.

Wendy said...

When performing disassembly work - I've always been of the "unscrew everything that looks unscrewable" school.

I found the jargon the biggest weakness of the tutorial myself.

Big fan of any book / tutorial / reference that speaks 3rd grade english.

Karyn Romeis said...

I have long been of the view that there is a lot more we could do with "voice" (by which I don't mean audio) in online tutorials, but I get shouted down every time.

It takes a brave person to spend money on resources that include levity.

We are a long way from allowing in our online materials the sort of things we expect to be part of the face to face experience.