Video Tutorials as Documentation

When you think about documentation, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of paper – user manuals that can be leafed through, skimmed over, and gather pretty piles of dust. But that’s ignoring a large percentage of the population who learn better from videos than printed or on-screen words.

Why use video tutorials?

Video tutorials are often ideal for audiences who aren’t particularly computer-savvy or academically-inclined. But a lot of people simply prefer to watch a video over reading text. If you want to reach out to existing and potential customers and draw them into more advanced use of your software, you might benefit a lot from creating video tutorials.

Types of video

Video tutorials fall into two basic categories: voice-overs and person-on-screen. The former tend to rely a lot on still screenshots or video captures of a computer window; the latter focus on connecting a personality with the information. Voice-over videos are cheaper to produce, but they’re often boring without any sense of personal connection. Person-on-screen videos can be expensive, but there are many options available to bring down the cost while still keeping viewer interest. For example, you could record live Skype lessons or produce short, one-minute tutorials answering common questions.

Tools to use

There are a number of free and commercial tools available for use in creating video tutorials:

  • Skype with video recorder: If you’re running live classes over Skype, using a video recorder plugin will allow you to record the class as it happens. Skype have a list of available voice and video recording plugins here: How can I record my Skype calls?
  • Audacity: This free program is a great little audio editing tool that you can use to clip, space out, and balance your voiceovers. Download it here.
  • Video editors: There are a range of options, and most of the decent-quality programs will cost you some cash. PC Mag have a list: The Best Video Editing Software of 2018.
  • SnagIt: If you’re going down the screen capture route, SnagIt is a popular professional tool for capturing video and still screen captures. Download a 15-day trial version.

More information

Check out my article on how to create a great video tutorial.


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