This site presents a Pattern Language for Pictorial Assembly Instructions (PAIs), the final outcome of my Doctoral Research into the design of PAIs.

Why Pictorial Assembly Instructions?

PAIs have become part of the landscape of modern consumer society. In a globalised economy where manufacturing is separated from the sites of consumption by vast distances the efficient shipping of consumer products is an important consideration.

One outcome, famously pursued by IKEA, is to manufacture and transport large bulky items in an un-assembled state leaving the final assembly to the end consumer. This saves on transport costs, but transfers the labour of final assembly onto the consumer who may not have a technical background and who may rarely perform assembly tasks.

This has resulted in the development of PAIs to describe the actions required to turn a box of parts into a functioning product. PAIs This has resulted in the development of PAIs to describe the actions required to turn the box of parts into a functional product. PAIs are a common, and apparently frustrating, part of our culture, so much so people often make fun of the assembly instruction style and the problems of tackling unfamiliar and seemingly intractable assembly tasks, particularly when putting together bicycles for children the night before Christmas.

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, so we might as well figure out how to make them well. 

Go to the Overview & Map to start your investigation of the pattern language for PAIs.

Assembly Sample

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