I, like most geeks, am always happy to learn more about space programs. Recently several friends went to Houston and the Space Center there. They met astronauts and did other things I’m deeply envious about.
One of my friends took pictures of the documentation for the space shuttles that I thought I’d share. Click here to see the pictures.
Why do we care?
The shuttle people are very smart people. So the actual instructions are probably written at a high level of knowledge because you can trust these smart people to know a lot.
But what I found interesting was, as my friend wrote,
the formatting and layout of these. The books are printed in a large, san-serif font on card stock. The binding is open rings, so they’ll lay flat without any argument. Remember that 95% of the time, these are going to be in zero-G, so any slight tendency of a book to snap shut (from a perfect binding that would normally be fighting against gravity) would cause the book to close.
The page layout is very loose and open, and could be written on with a pencil easily. The blue tape is velcro (NASA just lives for velcro!). As you can see in some of the later pix inside the shuttle simulator, the books are velcroed in place everywhere so they can be seen easily.
Audience is everything, except when environment is everything
So, not only do we need to think about what information our users need, we also need to think about how and when they will be using this information. Most of us are not designing information to be used in space, but what an interesting problem to solve. And what an ugly but perfect solution they found. (You have to admit, the blue velcro is ugly but very visible.)
Talk about tailoring the information delivery to the needs of the audience!
What unusual environmental information delivery problems have you solved?By Sharon Burton