After Syften reached 200 signups me and Sean started doing user interviews. We’d jump in on a video chat and ask questions. One of the questions I kept asking was “was the documentation clear?”. Half of our interviewees responded “I didn’t read the documentation”, and the remaining said “Oh, I didn’t know you had documentation”.
Half of our users didn’t notice the blue link to the documentation.
Great Artists Steal
Another service that requires some work before you can use it is snov.io. It’s not very useful unless you install their chrome extension. I don’t expect that their users are eager to read documentation any more than our. How did they solve that problem? Curiously, there is no link to the documentation on their page. And they can get away with that because…
On your first login they greet you with a pop-up with an instructional video. The second I saw it I had my a-ha moment. “I need to have that!”.
My PC and Laptop run Gentoo and Ubuntu respectively, so I had a few free tools available. To record the screen and audio I used SimpleScreenRecorder – ridiculously easy to use.
To capture my voice I used the same headset I used for my video calls.
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William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well has this to say to aspiring writers:
“Writers must therefore constantly ask: What am I trying to say? Then they must look at what they have written and ask: have I said it?”
I thought it prudent to apply the same principle to instructional videos. I needed to figure out what our users struggled with, and how to explain it concisely. And then actually explain it.
So I wrote a script.
I found the best way to go about recording the video was to split every line of my script into two parts:
- moving the cursor/performing actions
- reading the text
After I’ve recorded it I used Shotcut to make the voice overlap with the on-screen actions. I exported it (this step took longer than editing), and uploaded it to YouTube, learning in the process that the video will be low quality after upload, and highier resolutions can take more time to process.
In total I spent around six hours making this video, including four picking and learning the tools, doing a few tests, and learning how best to go about recording it. I think that in the future I’ll be able to make new videos from scratch in just two hours, most of that time spent on writing the script.
See the result (oh how I cringe when I hear my own voice):
Make a video only after you’ve learned what your users struggle with, then focus only on that. And never stop marketing.