Has anyone else noticed a significant trend lately away from words? Obviously we need words for many things, but more and more often, we’re seeing graphics take a larger role in communicating ideas. I don’t mean just additional screen captures in user doc (see Scott Nesbitt’s recent post arguing against using too many screen shots). I’m seeing more and more graphic formats become the primary mechanism of communication pieces. I’ve written before about the increase in comics as a form of technical communication, and the lessons we can learn from successful comic authors. I’m sure we’ve all heard the buzz about Google’s Chrome comic/manual.
This isn’t entirely new, the amazing Patrick Hofmann has been talking about using graphics to replace wordiness for years. If you ever get a chance to see him, you should go! If you don’t get the chance, you can always look at some of his work through the STC prior conference proceedings or Patrick’s own site.
And once I started noticing increasing graphic use, it seems to pop up everywhere. Recently, I was talking to a friend about a form of crochet patterns from Japan that is more graphic than not. Of course, since I can’t read or speak Japanese, the few text characters they do have don’t help me at all. And yet, I could follow the pattern. Check this out. First, the stitch (in this case, a reverse post double crochet):
Note the little symbol in the upper corner. Then look for that symbol in the pattern instructions:
And finally, here’s what the finished thing should look like: