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Show pictures

As our audiences grow to approximate the general population, people who have trouble reading join the ranks of people who just resent being forced to read on-screen. So even if your work revolves around text, think visually. If possible, make up a storyboard for each important answer, showing the key concept, or diagramming the process.

Where you have a series of forms you want people to fill out, put a series of numbered instructions at the top of each page, with an illustration, and highlight the form the user is on. In that way, as the user moves forward through the sequence, the visuals show progress, while explaining each major step.

Bring that kind of thinking back to the FAQ. Look at Macintosh manuals, where each step starts with an image on the left, shows a giant number in the middle, and, finally, over on the right, explains the picture with, uh, text. Pictures first, text second--that ought to be your mantra in FAQs.

  • Show pictures of icons.
  • Show tools.
  • Show screenshots.
  • Show diagrams of complex concepts, process flows, and relationships. When the text inside the diagram acts as notes, you are getting through.

When the art is so expressive that you do not need to add any text, well, you've achieved the high level of Lego manuals.

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