Videos as Next generation documentation
Posted by sureshkrishna on March 6, 2008
Have you ever spent hours and hours, reading a document and to get some help to accomplish a simple task. I am sure many of us did this. Many of the product and training material that we have are predominantly in the following category.
- Word Documents
- PDF Documents
- Post Script
- CHM File
- HTML Files
- and others (which i have not used)
We normally take a printout of the document to know the system, functionality, how-to, etc… At the end of the 2-3 hour read, we are still not sure how to accomplish a task and what are the new features in the product. With one of my previous client that i worked with, we did a lot of videos, which seemed to be a very effective way and customers love them. Taking videos of some speaker/presentation and some special demos have been in the industry for a long time. Making a video can be particularly suitable for the following scenarios.
- Task focused training material for a larger audience
- Showcase the preview of your product
- Complex installation instructions
- Knowledge transfer to colleagues (in a geographically-distributed environment)
Following are some of the practical benefits for the company and the end-user.
Product Company :
- Its easy. Instead of spending the $s on the huge documentation, its easy to do a professional quality screen casts.
- Many corporate users are task focused. Its easy to make small screen casts, focused on a single task.
- With the Audio and Video built in, its a value addition in the “Documentation” process.
- Its a pain to make the “screen shots” of the software and then describe each and every step that you would want to do. Screen casts makes it easy as its simple to perceive and understand.
- Installation of a product could be tedious and error prone, if not done carefully. When there is a screen cast describing the installation steps, its not easy to go wrong.
Customer / End user :
- Reading material to find out a specific information is time taking. Task focused screen casts can reduce this time.
- No one would like to repeat installations. Its no fun. Screen casts can avoid this.
- Its easy to grasp certain steps to complete a task by LOOKING at a screen cast rather than reading documents.
Its very important to differentiate the Podcasts, Webinars and Documentation Videos (Podcasts and Webinars are NOT documentation videos). This might not be suitable for the source code and API documentation.
Following are some of the companies that have a very good documentation via videos.
- Aptana : http://www.aptana.tv
- JackBe : http://www.jackbe.com/tv/index.php
- Nexaweb : http://dev.nexaweb.com/home/us.dev/index.html@cid=2502.html
- Tibco GI : http://www.tibco.com/devnet/gi/product_resources2.jsp?tab=videotutorials
I am sure some of the above mentioned points are applicable for your organization too. I would be glad to see your comments and experiences on “Videos as Next generation documentation”.