A colleague and I recently spent part of an afternoon attempting to assemble paper cranes. Yes, paper cranes.
We had been cleaning out old design records in the office and had come across a direct mail piece that had instructions on it for making a paper crane. So naturally, we needed to try it out and see how well we could understand the instructions. Plus I’ve always wanted to try making one, so that didn’t hurt.
Turns out it’s not easy!
Also turns out, it relates a lot to the design process. Gotta love those hidden educational pieces.
Here’s what can be related back to the process:
1) Communication is key. Directions need to be clear and concise otherwise, you might not get what you wanted.
What we found out was without written instructions, the tiny pictures showing each step were very difficult to follow and we had to restart a few times to get where we needed to go. Each time being more discouraging
2) Always look at the big picture
Throughout the entire process we kept looking to the finished piece to see if we were heading towards the result we wanted. Keeping the desired end result in mind really helped as we folded and flipped the paper, crafting the crane.
3) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
You can always grab a new piece of paper. And maybe the error you made gives your crane a unique feature that you wouldn’t have thought of?
4) What might make sense to you, won’t make sense to another
There was multiple times where one of us would understand what the diagram wanted us to do and the other would sit there confused. Sharing information is what got us from point A to point B. If there is a dividing point in interpretation of the design, figure out why. For us the problem came back to the user interface not being ideal. If we could, we would have fixed it.
5) Choose the right kind of paper for the job
Paper cranes require so much delicate folding they need to be made out of thin paper. Thicker paper gave bad results. Lesson learned: Stock selection can make or break your product.
6) Test before going into production.
Because of the difficulty in interpreting the instructions, we believe it wasn’t tested or there was very limited testing done before the product went into production. The confusing instructions could have been improved upon with results from test groups.
I’m sure there are other lessons to be learned from this, but these were some of the main ones.
One final lesson: Be proud of your work!