Easy Workflow + ROI

I developed this poster to replace a setup booklet for the Apple Performa computers.

The poster cut support calls and reduced Cost of Goods Sold for Apple Performa computers by $0.11 per unit.

The next iteration of the setup poster was a graphic-only version—eliminating the cost of translating into 5 languages.


Setup Poster


Apple’s Performa computers were high-volume products targeted at first-time computer owners. The user brought the computer home in a box and set it up himself. Apple discovered that the Performas were costly to support because so many users called for help during setup.

Solution—Design + Usability Study

First, I worked with Apple’s support center to identify “call driver” issues that could be fixed in the user documentation. Then I observed open-the-box tests, in which first-time users set up their own computers. The data suggested that users needed a picture for each step in the Getting Started booklet. Better yet—why not a one-page graphic workflow with very little text? So I worked with a technical illustrator to develop pictures and layout for a setup poster.

To test the poster, I staged more open-the-box studies. To get information on behavior, performance, and preference, I used a field ethnography approach—sitting with the users, observing actively, asking them to think aloud, and occasionally asking clarifying questions. Rapid design iterations helped to quickly identify solutions that worked. Once 2 or 3 users had a problem in the same place, the illustrator and I made a change and tried it out on the next user. The design was declared complete when 5 users completed setup without problems.