Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

Photo of a page in an IKEA instruction manual that uses no words--only drawings--for how to assemble a bookshelf.
IKEA picture instructions.

I love IKEA.  Do you know one of the things I love most about IKEA? Their instructions. They are universal and easy to understand. This $10 billion dollar company has nailed one of the factors that I think contributes to their success: Simplicity. This Scandinavian company located in 38 countries primarily uses pictures in their instructions, and these pictures rival the artwork of most ten-year-olds. The instructions are surprisingly straightforward and universal, so everyone from the astrophysicist to the 18-year-old college freshman can follow them with little-to-no trouble.

How important is simplicity in communication? Very. Taking a page out of IKEA’s book, the short and direct approach, which in their case includes pictures, is key.  (On a side note, I find this approach key when it comes to explaining to my husband how to properly separate clothes before he washes them, but I digress.)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, learn from IKEA and make sure you can communicate a comprehensible message to the widest-possible audience.

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