Clarity Trumps Brevity

Dan Sil­ver­man does­n’t like his Avaya desk­top phone1 very much. He explains how its cryp­tic but­tons don’t real­ly pro­vide enough infor­ma­tion to make sense of their func­tion. He also includes this gem on what hap­pens when indus­tri­al design fails (which is almost always, to some extent):

Yes, in the case of elec­tron­ic devices, the design should intu­itive­ly con­vey how it works with­out the need for a man­u­al. But if the design is bad, a man­u­al is the next best thing.

Writ­ing the man­u­al or the help should be inte­gral to the process of design and not left until the end (or worse, after the prod­uct ships). Good man­u­als and help can indeed be the next best thing to an inspired design and make prod­ucts far more usable.

1see how I invent­ed a new phrase to describe an old thing based on the way we do things now?