Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Doors and Details

Some of my favorite fantasy men.....

One of the fantastic things about holidays (and a boyfriend who loves to sleep until 1pm) is the ability to watch MY shows.

This weekend's choice - a This Old House marathon.

I've been watching this show since I was a kid. This Old House triggered my love for seeing how stuff happened "behind the scenes."

Watching Tom Silva (the contractor) install a door, I was struck by the level of detail these gentlemen put into even a prosaic project. Go to the site and watch one of the videos to see what I mean. The man had tools I didn't even know existed! And I've spent quality time at Home Depot over the years. (A clamp to help you drill doorknob holes - who knew?)

I live in a rental and have no business improving anything (as badly as the apartment may need it). And I generally don't tackle large (and many small) projects without the supervision of those more skilled, more patient and less klutzy than I. This many years later, I still find home improvement shows endlessly fascinating.

Thinking about it, I realized that these gentlemen (don't see too many ladies on This Old House, I'm afraid) are able to pay attention to this level of detail (a DOOR for pete's sake!) and still manage to get projects done in a reasonable time. Multiply all of the little details, still keeping an eye on the big picture, and you can see how the overall quality of the project goes up.

I see this in eLearning tutorials. A little bit of attention to details goes a long way. Removing the clicks and breathing from the audio track. Checking navigation for consistency. Making sure the captions are the same color and font specified in the style guide. Building a style guide in the first place. The little things that add up.

I find that when I don't take the time to do these little things, it eats me up every time I take a look at the project. And, invariably, someone more retentive than I am notices....

OK - so I'm a bit of a perfectionist.

Of course, I do these things with an eye towards the important goal - helping to teach someone to do something.

Much like building a house - it's pointless to pay close attention to doorknob placement when the wall is falling down. But when you have a sound structure, the little details really do make all the difference.


Janet Clarey said...

I am so glad to know someone else who can sit through 'this old house' marathons! I've been doing it forever too. It's what made me want to buy the old house I'm getting ready to move into. And, you're so right about the details in elearning. I still struggle with 'good is good enough' and 'get it right' thing though. I've been guilty of using shims in the elearning when I didn't want to screw around with the level. ; )

Wendy said...

'Good is good enough' vs. 'Get it right'. Yup - that's pretty much been the theme of my blog (and my career). Sadly - I don't think I'm any closer to figuring it out. And, like the rest of us, I've used shims too. Just don't look too closely at the handiwork....

And isn't that new host adorable? :)