High comprehensibility, low translation effort and an improved user experience:
Low-language instructions with professionally-created graphics offer many advantages. We were able to provide Sita Bauelemente GmbH with the necessary methodological tools in a workshop, lasting several days.
The initial situation
Sita has been a leading manufacturer of system solutions for the drainage and ventilation of flat roofs (for industrial and commercial buildings) for over 40 years. In 2021, Sita was faced with the task of completely revising the installation instructions for its various products.
The challenge: The documents, which had grown over time, existed in different graphic layouts and were exclusively in German.
Ensure multilingualism and standardise and optimise the design: For the Sita team, these were the central requirements in order to be better equipped for the international target markets and to be able to set up the technical documentation for the future. kothes was commissioned as an external partner and specialist service provider to develop the new documentation and visualisation concept.
Particularly important: We were not only tasked with developing the individual improvement measures theoretically, but also communicating them practically to Sita employees.
The meat of our collaboration was a four-day workshop at Sita headquarters, led by kothes coach Dirk Meissner, who, as a technical editorial and graphics expert, provided the technical and methodological input and acted as a source of ideas and an aid in reflection.
The following milestones were achieved during the workshop:
Analysis of the current state
What content is needed for assembly instructions that comply with regulations and are also comprehensible? At which points in the documentation is there still a need for optimisation in this respect? Which information can be illustrated and which would be better prepared in text form?
The first step was to jointly evaluate the current state of the documents and the regulatory requirements. This enabled the core objectives of the workshop to be defined and the starting point for all further measures to be created.
Conception of new text contents
We developed the following concept for the textual content of the assembly instructions:
The actual "action" section is preceded by an introductory chapter with general notes and safety instructions.
Our coach was able to work out the structure of this chapter, as well as the new wording of the associated texts directly during the workshop with the Sita team. The future translation of the preliminary remarks also ensures the multilingualism of the instructions.
Definition of layout and visualisation concept
The core task of the workshop was to optimise the layout and illustration of the assembly instructions. To this end, a new master layout was first conceived that was consistently aligned with Sita's corporate design specifications.
The next step was to develop a new visualisation concept for the language-neutral Installation chapter. The main goal: All action steps should be visualised by high-quality graphics that work without additional text. To ensure a methodical and consistent approach, our coach defined the key points in the creation of graphics within a guideline. These include aspects such as graphic style, color scheme, perspectives, and defined characteristics of pictograms, symbols, and icons. This creates a consistent visual language and makes the creation process much simpler.
Training in the illustration tool
Practical relevance and applicability: Our coach explained the specific procedure for creating graphics directly in Corel Designer. In this way, the Sita team was trained in working with the tool, in the context of a real project, and were optimally prepared for future illustration tasks.
The benefits for Sita
Seven-language installation instructions in one document – thanks to clear graphics, the installation; all the way from flat-roof gully to drainage posts is explained in a language-neutral manner.
In only four workshop days, our coach succeeded in setting up and practically implementing a new technical documentation concept.
In doing so, all goals of Sita's technical editorial team could be successfully implemented:
- Uniformity and multilingualism for the introductory chapter
- Revised master layout according to corporate design specifications
- Language-neutral (built-in) chapter, based on a professional visualisation concept
- Editing and graphic know-how for the creation of the instructions on their own
How does the Sita team assess the course of the project and the result?
Product Manager Christian Behr looked back on the cooperation with kothes in an extremely positive light:
"We as Sita are very satisfied with the workshop. The strong practical relevance and the high degree of flexibility in solving the various tasks were particularly positive surprises for us. Another bonus point: Thanks to rapid support, we were able to lean heavily on kothes' expertise at any time and without complications, even after the workshop."