Simon Fraser University, SIAT, Everyday Design Studio, Summer 2013 – Summer 2014

Aiming to examine the quality of DIY tutorials, we put ourselves in the position of DIY enthusiasts, attempting to build ten DIY projects by following their tutorials. We documented this process and analyzed our experiences and observations. In the context of our study, we believe that the process of following the tutorials ourselves is a straightforward way to investigate the challenges and opportunities of DIY instructions.

We will be presenting a paper using findings from this study at CHI 2015:

Wakkary, R., Schlling, M., Dalton, M., Hauser, S., Desjardins, A., Zhang, X., & Lin, H. (2015). Tutorial Authorship and Hybrid Designers: The Joy (and Frustration) of DIY Tutorials. In Proceedings of the conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, (forthcoming, April 2015). (10pgs).

Here is the abstract:

Tutorials are critical to the success and vitality of DIY practices. In this paper, we elevate the importance of tutorial authorship as one way to maintain and improve the quality of tutorials in DIY. We discuss the role interaction designers can play as hybrid designers, mediating between author and audience to contribute to the improvement of practices of tutorial authorship in DIY. We examine the quality of tutorials through the building and analysis of ten DIY projects and tutorials. We analyze key issues across three categories: 1) competences, components and tools, 2) sequencing, 3) and communication. We offer findings that are both practical guidelines for detailed improvements of tutorials and structural themes for improving tutorial authorship including the themes of accurate information, competences and tools, and tutorial format. In conclusion, we discuss the potential for interaction designers to simultaneously mediate and shape tutorials and tools in a form of hybrid design