If they are all that common, why did I have to search to figure out what they mean?

I have two pairs of pants that got a bit dusty when moving around computers this week.  It’s amazing how many dustbunnies can be inside a computer isn’t it?  So the pants I was wearing were a bit dusty so I was checking to see if they could be washed or only dry cleaned.  And from the tag in the clothing, I couldn’t tell.  Granted the tag was small (not as small as the Certificate of Authenticity tags on the side of computers mind you) but still, and they were all in icons.  And Saturday night at my house is laundry night.  Do I know how to paaarrrty or what?  So I’m sorting colors and clothes and get to these two pairs of pants that have never been washed before, and I honestly don’t know if they can be.  And the only “manual” they have instructing me what to do when or if I should wash them is on that tag with a bunch of icons.

Okay… great… but what if you don’t know what the icons mean?  

So I do what every self respecting geek does when facing laundry issues.  

http://www.textileaffairs.com/c-common.htm and so I had to search to figure out what the symbols meant.  Sometimes we’re like that in technology when we communicate to those that don’t live and breathe this stuff.  We use jargon and words that we assume everyone will understand….because of course WE understand what we mean.  But if you aren’t in the business… in this case … I’m not a specialist in laundry (or at least try to only do it once a week or as necessary) and my entire world doesn’t live and breathe around laundry, it’s no wonder that I’m looking at this laundry jargon going “Huh?”.  Is that a W for wash or a Crossed out washing machine?

Don’t forget when trying to explain something new to a user that they may be not understanding what you understand.  Ensure that you are communicating on the same level, with the same understanding.  Ensure there are visual instructions when someone starts to use something new.  Ensure that the instructions you give are clear and jargon free (as much as we can in the Information Technology world).

And in case anyone is wondering, Do not wash, No bleach, Do not tumble dry, Light iron, Dryclean, Any Solvent Except Trichloroethylene.

Hmmmm, maybe I can use a lint roller and get the worst of the dust off of them?


One Thought on “If they are all that common, why did I have to search to figure out what they mean?

  1. Do you really think anyone in the dry cleaning business would bother to look up what those symbols mean. IF they even looked at them at all. No, they would just toss them in with the other peoples stuff and then find out after the fact that you can’t use Trichloroethylene. Oh, so sorry.

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