In Praise of Staples’ Chair Assembly Instructions

“Some Assembly Required”: three words that will put the fear of God into you.

Whether it’s a Christmas toy for your kid or a treadmill that will soon be gathering dust in your basement, most all of us have faced the nightmare of trying to assemble something out of a box.

Staples assembly instructions

Assembly instructions, done the right way.

We start with a sense of cautious optimism. Carefully laying out the parts to match up with the illustrations, we swear, “This time, it will be different.” But soon enough, all hope abandons us, as we lie sprawled on the floor, wailing about the unlabeled widget or undecipherable explanation in the instructions pamphlet.

Some of us might gather up the courage to call the manufacturer, suffering through 45 minutes of static-ridden Muzak to speak with Product Support. Even that, however, leads to further frustration more often than not. And we curse ourselves for once again foolishly thinking we could ever assemble something like a gas grill by ourselves.

So when I was shopping for a new office chair at Staples last week, I had to make a difficult decision: Do I take this chair home and put it together myself, or do I pay $15 for Staples to put it together — but come back the next day to pick it up?

Against my better judgment, I chose Option A. Fortunately, my faith in Staples was rewarded.

Yes, It’s That Easy

The concept of “easy” is central to the Staples brand. The cover of the assembly instructions is titled “easy instructions,” while the headline on the inside page is “putting it together — the easy way.” And the instructions definitely lived up to the hype.

Obviously, these were written by a professional who is very familiar with the English language (not always a given in these cases). The step-by-step instructions are concise, plainly stated and simple to follow.

The graphics, too, are nicely done. Each part is clearly labeled, while each image has enough detail to communicate what goes where, but not so much detail as to clutter your mind.

The packaging also plays a role. All of the bolts are sorted by size and packaged in pockets labeled A, B, C and D. There’s no ambiguity whatsoever while looking at the instructions and trying to find the corresponding parts.

As a communications professional, I admire Staples’ ability to lucidly articulate how to assemble a chair. As a consumer, I appreciate not being enraged by and/or wasting hours on the effort.

Thank you, Staples.

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