Instructions Project Overview

For this assignment you will write instructions for users of a traditional spring-loaded mousetrap. You will be working in pairs for this project. The documents you will produce are:

  1. mousetrap instructions,
  2. a cover document for the client, and
  3. a collection of your draft materials for me.

The Project Scenario

Your technical communication consulting firm, Indelible, Inc., has just been contracted to write new sets of instructions for an international pest control company. The company, Vector, is based in Britain and produces a variety of pest control devices. One of their most popular is a standard mousetrap, but currently no written instructions exist for the traps. In addition, the pest control company is concerned that their entrance into the international market (in this case the U.S. and Canada) will heighten the need for clear instructions. They also are concerned that the traps meet safety standards because of potential liability issues. The requirements sent by Vector follow.

Document Requirements for the Vector Spring Loaded Mousetrap

The instructional document and the process for creating it must meet the following requirements:

  • The instructions must be reproducible in black and white print,
  • The document must fit into the trap’s cellophane packaging (it can be folded),
  • Adequate warning and safety information must be included, and
  • The instructions must be user tested, complete with a documented record of the testing procedures and results of the tests.

A Sample Process for the Instructions Assignment

Your collaborative composing process should involve the following steps:

  1. Analyze your context and users. In this stage you make the key decisions about the mousetrap users and the contexts that those users will be working in.
  2. Conduct a task analysis. Once you've looked seriously at the users and context, you can then begin to outline the tasks that the user will perform in using the trap and what information that your instructions can provide to help the user with the task..
  3. Design lo-fidelity prototypes. For this step, you use the information you developed in the previous two steps to make decisions on the format and overall layout of your instructions. After your group members approve of the way the document designed, you can go on to complete developing the content and draft the instructions.
  4. Design and conduct a user test. You will carry out a rudimentary test to analyze the accuracy and usability of your instructions on at least one person, revise the instructions accordingly, then test the instructions with several other people.
  5. Complete the instructions and compose the final report and cover doc. These documents will be handed in together by each group at the completion of the project. Evaluation criteria for the final instructions and report are available here.