It seems as if the assembly of flat-pack furniture is so complicated and difficult that there are entire web pages, jokes, and nightmare stories regarding this topic. Guardian Newspapers states, “But people assembling the furniture often find the instructions confusing, so they end up putting parts together in the wrong order”. Washingtonpost.com has an article which has the details of a contest from a comical class: Engineering 382, Setting Up Ikea Stuff: Students will learn to piece together a particle board coffee table using an Allen wrench (provided) and a diagram consisting of dotted lines and arrows but no words. Prerequisite: Lego II. This week's contest was inspired by Don Troop of the Chronicle of Higher Education, who told the Empress of a British college that was offering a class in "assembling flatpack furniture." Your challenge: Come up with a comical college class, along with a description for the course catalogue. ...
Most people simply think that both text and graphics are
impossible to follow.
In other to determine which set of instructions are easiest to follow, or
perhaps a combination of graphics and text instructions, the "Think Aloud
Method" was used. This method requires participants to "think aloud", or talk,
while they are following the instructions. Participants are to say what they are
thinking before they start performing an action, during the task, and provide
feedback. The entire time of task performance, they will speak their thoughts. It
is very important that someone prompts the participants to continue talking
throughout the entire process as it is not natural for one to verbalize each thought.
A digital recorder was used as handwriting each person's thoughts/words
would be quite tedious. Three participants were chosen. One followed the
instructions that were only in graphics. Another followed text instructions. The
third person followed instructions that were displayed by illustrations and words,
or in other words, a combination of text and graphics. Each participant was given
the choice to choose a helper; someone who could assist him/her in the
assembling of the flatpack project. One participant chose her teenager. Another
Usability Study 3
participant chose a spouse. The third participant selected a family member. This
seemed necessary because most people tend to have help when assembling such a
project and usually, they (the participants) would be the ones to choose who
would help them in a normal situation.
As stated earlier, a prompter would ask questions to insure that the
participants continued to verbalize their thoughts. Questions could not encourage
or direct answers in any