Hi-Tech Solution For a Low Tech Problem: Improving IKEA Instruction Manuals

Hi-Tech Solution For a Low Tech Problem: Improving IKEA Instruction Manuals

Gregory Han
Aug 12, 2010

You've just spent the last 3 hours assembling your new IKEA BjornSmjorgnLorganLightnUppen, only to discover the legs are attached incorrectly, the end results look only remotely related to the showroom sample, and you've got a worrisome amount of extra bolts, hinted by the wobbly finish threatened by even the most gentle of breaths. You swore you followed the directions perfectly (again), but that stupid smiling instruction manual blobby dude makes it clear you most certainly didn't follow directions correctly. Sound familiar?

The problem with most any build-it-yourself furniture piece of moderate construction is the instruction manuals can only do a fair job at best communicating the physical connections and installation procedures needed in assembling anything beyond installing a light bulb. Three dimensional instructions are easily lost in translation on a piece of paper, as anyone knows while trying to "look around the corner" of a 2D illustration; the process undoubtedly ends up being a furniture-building Kama Sutra of sorts, with an inordinate amount of sweating, dirty language and plenty of guesswork of "let's try putting this in here...no there!", except this manual would be filled with positions labeled with names such as, "Upside Down Ratchet" or "Falling Washer, Rising Temper".

The how-to video network, Howcast, recently pitched an innovative (and arguably no-brainer) hi-tech solution to IKEA for this common dilemma for the build-your-own marketplace. Smart phones are as common as LACK bookshelves, and by utilizing QR Codes (matrix barcodes that can direct smart phones and computers to specific websites/media sources) the clarity of instruction manuals could be fortified with embedded videos specifically illustrating how to correctly assemble Part A with Part B, reducing a lot of the guesswork usually involved with putting together your own furniture. Seems like a perfect solution that should improve the quality of both the customer's experience and also the durability of the product they put together. Watch Howcast's sample video pitch below:

Screener: Ikea on Howcast

(Photo used for photo illustration top: Flickr member Fuschia Foot licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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