Video Help System?

Subject: Video Help System?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Kevin McGowan <thatguy_80 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2008 10:01:22 -0500

Kevin McGowan wondered: <<We're being asked to produce a series of
short (1-2 minute) how-to videos using Captivate. The problem I see is
that our client wants us to create all of these how-to videos and then
drop them onto their users' PCs in a folder. I don't see that as an
effective help-system, as the user/learner will have to manually hunt
through dozens and dozens of videos to find what they want. I'd like
to propose a more genuine help system that's easy to use and easy to

Why not do both? That is, create a basic HTMLHelp help system or even
a simple collection of interlinked HTML pages, with each topic having
one or more "click here to watch a video of how this works" links?
That way, you and your colleagues provide the structure that turns a
random collection of video clips into an integrated, organized help

The biggest problem with videos (in my experience) is that they always
run too fast, particularly for long procedures, so I'm forced to view
and review and re-review the video multiple times. Thus, two tips:
First, include a written summary of the steps before the link, so that
you provide an overview of the procedure to "prime" the viewers so
they know what they'll be seeing. Second, make sure to record the
video at a slower rate than you'd actually do the work. I don't know
whether you'll be recording voice narration* (or text subtitles), but
if you do, make sure to stop at least briefly after each step (or
provide video controls that let viewers do this themselves) so viewers
can perform that step before continuing.

* If you do use voice, add subtitles too or make this an optional
setting. Some of your audience will be deaf or hearing impaired, will
lack speakers on their computer, or won't be able to hear the
narration over the noise in their office.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
***Now available*** _Effective onscreen editing_


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Sr Tech Writer job?: From: Peter Neilson
Re: Sr Tech Writer job?: From: Geoff Lane
Video Help System: From: Kevin McGowan

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