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Expand on measuring options

So you have a product and customers have to mix it in some way, and you want to make it easy for them to get good results. What are your options for doing this?

This is to follow on from my post on tile adhesive instructions being less than ideal, and I thought I’d explain some ways to make mixing instructions easier for your customers.

Why expand on instructions?

Pipette dripping into a test tube

You may not need scientific precision measurements, but clarity is critical in making the right mixture.

Yes, you could copy the tile adhesive company and give very basic instructions. And that would be fine for some of your customers.

Or you could aim to help the majority of your customers with more detailed, clear instructions as they will be happier and get better overall results. And happier customers will come back and/or recommend you to others.

Better instructions could also mean fewer calls to you asking for help, too.

How to give useful information

Depending on your product and audience, you may be able to use one or more of the following options.

  1. give specific measurements
  2. give a simple ratio for mixing
  3. give a range of measurements
  4. give instructions that allow for varied quantities

Give specific measurements

Obviously, the simplest approach is giving exact measurements like a cake mix packet – ‘add one egg and 1 cup of milk to the cake mix’.

Of course, it is best to avoid ambiguity and use clear measurements. For example, 250ml is safer than 1 cup as non-Australian cups are not 250ml.

Give a simple ratio for mixing

When you have a packet and people are likely to use part of it each time, a ratio can be a handy measurement tool.

For instance, ‘add two teaspoons of fertiliser per 3 litres of water’ can be used by someone wanting 3 or 30 litres of fertiliser. And ‘mix a 1:1 volume of powder and water’ is easy to convert to any quantity of the mixture.

Give a range of measurements

When you provide a large quantity of the product and people are probably going to use it in batches, it is important to give them realistic numbers to work with. For example, no one is going to use a whole box of washing powder in one go so why bother saying ‘tip the box into a 7,000 litre washing machine’?

Even if you do provide a ratio of components, some examples or a range can be very useful for a consumer.

A range could be in a table form:

powder water area covered
1 cup 2 litres 1 m2
2 cups 4 litres 2 m2
5 cups 10 litres 5 m2

Or as text ‘To cover a large area, mix the entire bag with 6 litres of water; to cover 1m2 area, mix 1 cup with 2 litres of water.’

Give instructions that allow for varied quantities

Sometimes an exact measurement isn’t feasible, but this can be hard for a user to understand.

Instead of saying something like ‘use one to two cups of water’, it is clearer to write:

– add one cup of water and mix
– slowing add more water (up to 1 cup) until the mixture runs as slowly as honey

or maybe you can add notes like ‘Add 1 cup of water and mix. Note that in high humidity or days over 35°C, an additional 1/2 cup of water may be needed.’

So when is it?

I just followed a link to a site about a small business expo/summit to see if it would be of value to me.

The link showed a list of presenters but where and when were more important questions for me. Fair enough, I followed a link so I didn’t go to an introductory page so clicking to another page is reasonable.

time dates linked

Link important information carefully

“Where is event” is in their menu which is fantastic so I now know it is in Sydney.

It took 5 more clicks (including clicking on the “program” link in the menu – the program just lists times on a Wednesday…) before I found it is on July 27. To be fair, I then checked the home page but it isn’t listed there either.

It’s a  pity an event supported by big business and with Government speakers can’t make it easy to find critical details on their website, but it’s another lesson for those of us responsible for communicating to clients and prospective clients – identify the key information and make it easy to find.

Making key data easy to find is more than putting in on one page, too – if people enter the site at different pages or read a few pages before looking for the key data, you want them to find it easily too.

So include key data on every page (in a footer or a graphic for example) or have a clear menu item on every page.

What is key data? Well here are some examples:

  • contact details
  • location where relevant (don’t assume an online store doesn’t need this as people like to know which country they are ordering from if nothing else)
  • event details like dates and locations
  • who you are – a business, organisation or personal name should be prominent
  • shipping information (for an online store)
  • terms and conditions (it may not be the first thing I look for, but when I need to know the terms I must be able to find them)

How do you react when a website lacks (or hides, deliberately or by poor thought) key details you are after? And, no, I am not going to that expo (although not entirely because the date was obscured).