Examples of Poor Instructions

Examples Of Poor Instructions

If you’ve ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture or operate a new gadget, you know how frustrating it can be when the instructions are unclear or poorly written.

Poor instructions can leave you feeling confused, frustrated, and even angry. In some cases, they can even lead to mistakes, accidents, and injuries.

A cluttered desk with scattered papers, a frustrated person with a furrowed brow, and a broken pencil on the floor

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some examples of poor instructions and explore why they can be so problematic.

Whether you’re a manufacturer trying to improve your product manuals or a consumer trying to navigate a confusing set of directions, understanding the common pitfalls of poor instructions can help you avoid frustration and achieve success.

So let’s dive in and explore some of the most common examples of poor instructions out there.

Common Characteristics of Poor Instructions

Lack of Clarity

Instructions that lack clarity can be frustrating and confusing. It is important to use clear and concise language when writing instructions. Make sure that your instructions are easy to follow and understand.

Missing Steps

Instructions that are missing steps can be a major problem. It is important to include all of the necessary steps in your instructions to ensure that your audience can successfully complete the task.

Make sure that you have tested your instructions and that they are complete before sharing them with others.

Overwhelming Detail

Instructions that are overly detailed can be overwhelming and difficult to follow. It is important to strike a balance between providing enough detail to complete the task and overwhelming your audience with too much information.

Use bullet points or numbered lists to break up long paragraphs of text and make your instructions easier to read.

No Visual Aids

Instructions that do not include visual aids can be difficult to follow. Visual aids can help to clarify complex instructions and make them easier to understand.

Consider including diagrams, illustrations, or photographs to help illustrate key points in your instructions.

Also See: How To Be A Chat Support Representative

Real-World Examples

Flat-Pack Furniture Assembly

Flat-pack furniture is often a cost-effective option for those looking to furnish their homes.

However, poor instructions can make the assembly process frustrating and time-consuming.

For example, some instructions may lack clear diagrams or fail to specify which screws or bolts to use in certain steps. This can result in incorrect assembly and a less sturdy end product.

Technical Support Guides

Technical support guides are meant to help users troubleshoot and solve problems with their devices or software. However, poorly written instructions can hinder this process.

For instance, some guides may use technical jargon that is difficult for the average user to understand. Others may lack clear step-by-step instructions or fail to provide relevant screenshots.

Cooking Recipes

Cooking recipes are meant to guide the cook through the process of making a dish.

Poorly written recipes can lead to confusion and even disaster in the kitchen.

For example, some recipes may lack specific measurements or cooking times, leading to over or undercooked food. 

Others may use vague or unfamiliar terms, leaving the cook unsure of what to do next. Clear and concise instructions are crucial in ensuring a successful outcome in the kitchen.

Also See: Examples Of Excellent Customer Service In Banking

Consequences of Poor Instructions

Poor instructions can have serious consequences for both the user and the product. Here are some of the most common consequences of poor instructions:

User Frustration

When instructions are unclear or incomplete, users may become frustrated and confused.

This can lead to wasted time and effort, as well as a negative user experience. Frustrated users may abandon the product altogether, leading to lost sales and a damaged reputation.

Product Misuse

Poor instructions can also lead to product misuse. Users may misinterpret instructions or skip important steps, leading to incorrect use of the product.

This can result in damage to the product or even injury to the user. In some cases, product misuse can also result in legal liability for the manufacturer.

Increased Customer Support Calls

When instructions are unclear or incomplete, users may turn to customer support for help.

This can result in a high volume of support calls, which can be costly and time-consuming for the manufacturer.

In addition, if the support team is unable to provide adequate assistance, users may become even more frustrated and dissatisfied with the product.

Also See: Customer Referral Program Best Practices

Improving Instruction Quality

When it comes to creating instructions, it’s important to focus on quality. Poor instructions can lead to confusion and frustration, which can result in wasted time and resources.

Here are some ways to improve the quality of your instructions:

User Testing

Before finalizing your instructions, it’s important to test them with users. You can use surveys, interviews, or usability testing to gather feedback from users.

By involving users in the testing process, you can ensure that your instructions are easy to understand and follow.

Feedback Loops

Another way to improve instruction quality is to establish feedback loops. This means creating a system for users to provide feedback on the instructions.

By incorporating user feedback, you can create instructions that are more user-friendly and effective.

Professional Editing

Finally, consider hiring a professional editor to review your instructions. A professional editor can help you identify areas that may be confusing or unclear. They can also help you improve the overall readability and flow of your instructions.


In conclusion, poor instructions can lead to frustration, wasted time, and even safety hazards. When creating instructions, it is important to consider the audience and their level of knowledge on the subject matter.

Clear and concise language, along with visual aids such as diagrams and videos, can greatly improve the effectiveness of instructions.

Additionally, providing feedback mechanisms such as a help desk or online forum can help to address any confusion or issues that may arise during the instruction process.

It is also important to test instructions with a sample audience to ensure they are easy to follow and achieve the desired outcome.

By taking the time to create well-designed and easy-to-follow instructions, you can save yourself and others time and frustration while also ensuring safety and success in completing tasks.

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