“Best practices” and “efficiency” are buzz words that have been floating around for quite a while. It seems like everyone—from manufacturers to installers—has their own best way of doing something. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the “right way,” or, we might put it like this: There’s the Draper way, and the wrong way (where you fill in your own name in place of Draper).

Lee Distad recently wrote about best practices for rAVe Publications, and it reminded me of my early days at Draper, writing installation instructions and other technical documents.

“Step one to carrying out best practices,” Lee said, “is being informed.” That means reading the manual.

“Understand what things are supposed to do before designing around them and understand how to install them,” Lee’s post said.

My wife always has a good laugh at my expense when it comes time to put together a new toy or piece of furniture, or complete some maintenance task on the lawn mower. Why? Because the first thing I always do is read through the assembly/maintenance manual to make sure I know what I’m doing. And then I actually use them to guide me through the project! Apparently this is behavior my wife has seldom seen.

This is also a discussion I’ve had with our current technical publications specialist, Josh Shopp. Sometimes it feels like being a straw salesman in a town where the pigs have already moved on to brick. What’s the point? In the end, we usually agree that the point is to have the information there for people to access when they need it, even if we can’t control when or if they actually do so.

So why don’t people always read the installation instructions? I’ve never been able to come up with a good answer to that question. Perhaps it comes down to hubris. Or maybe people have done similar projects and installed similar equipment hundreds of times. But I suspect the closest thing to a universal excuse would be time. Everyone is always in a hurry. Reduced time on site equals more profit.

But, in saving time the first time around, we are increasing the chance for return trips and follow-up troubleshooting, which wind up costing more money and time.

Or, as Lee said, “It’s always better to be right than to be quick.”

Draper tries to allow designers and installers to do both. We try to get all the pertinent steps, warnings, and relevant information into our instructions, along with helpful, clear illustrations, in a way that doesn’t overcomplicate or muddy what we’re trying to get across.

You’ll find all of our installation instructions online. In addition to posting them on each relevant product page, we created this handy product document tool so you can search for what you need.

To read Lee Distad’s full post, click here.

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