A client recently needed some help on setting up video tutorials on her website. I realized that this info is probably of value to just about everybody, so here it is. Disclaimer: these are my opinions as to what constitutes an effective tutorial and this is by no means authoritative.
- Initial capture:
- Script out the mouse clicks and screens that you want to hit in order (sometimes I do this in PowerPoint)
- Capture that workflow in a video with Camtasia or Captivate (possibly run the PowerPoint in another window for visual queues OR just print it out)
- Edit LIBERALLY to get tutorial down to final runtime
- Play video and record VERY rough voice over to get the basic structure down
- Replay voiceover and transcribe into a script, editing for brevity
- Read your script while the final video is playing and capture audio
- In Captivate or Camtasia, marry the audio with the video
- Stay away from the post-it style popups that are so popular in Captivate … people are way too impatient to read in a video, so these are not effective (example: subtitled films don’t do well)
- Instead, to highlight content or actions, perform a ZOOM in the video editing software
- When doing the VO, keep a consistent distance from the mic. I’d say 12 – 14 inches if you have a standalone mic. If it’s clip on or headset, then ignore this.
- I like audible clicks and typing sound effects in tutorials. In Camtasia, this is one click box.
- Make sure the volume is fairly loud, but not blaring on the final version … people always have their speakers wayyy too low
- If this is an intro-style of video, it should be really fast, like 30 – 45 seconds (you are telling your audience that your service or product is as easy as 1-2-3 … so REALLY make it as easy as 1-2-3)
- Unless you have an insanely complex form (and if you do, you might consider redeveloping it), when demoing a form being filled out, show the beginning of filling out a form, then do a blur transition to “fast-forward” to the completed form. If you must, fast-forward blur to the challenging parts of the form and in your voiceover, give users clear, concise direction. Or, like I said, redevelop.
- Break non-intro tutorials into 1 minute to 1:30 chunks
- Use an SEO-friendly player like Longtail
That’s a messy, incomplete set of guidelines to making an effective tutorial.