Video content drives modern marketing. It enables you to show the essential stuff in a matter of seconds. All information is thoroughly picked and composed in such a manner that a prospect doesn’t need to look for things themselves. It is all crispy and clear and packed into one video.
Videos can add a lot of value to technical documentation, as well. Let’s look at possible video types that you can use in user manuals.
Such videos are, as a rule, created by marketing teams, and their purpose is to briefly explain what the product is about, showcase the main functionality, and get people interested.
A product overview video is the most difficult and complex video type out of all the types we are going to cover today. It should be visually appealing and get prospects interested in buying the product.
Usually, such videos are produced to be less than a minute long not to bore the watchers. This ‘boredom’ is perhaps the biggest concern here. The aim is to make a person watch it (ideally till the end). But you can’t really make anyone do it unless they are sincerely interested. That’s why product overviews are loaded with animations and special effects.
Another important part is wording. The world has seen it all and it is hard not to be a cliché or a rip-off, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to try. Creating text for overviews looks like a perfect job for a UX writer.
Overview videos are added to the main website, they are referenced in emails, and they look good in the introductory parts of technical documentation.
What’s the purpose of content like gifs, screenshots, tables, graphs, schemes in technical documents? To support what’s written. Not to replace it, but rather make it easier to comprehend.
The same is true for videos that provide feature descriptions. They are usually added to the relevant help topics to serve as another way of delivering information.
One feature per video is a rule of thumb, while the length of feature videos is debatable. We would still recommend keeping it short. A five-minute monster will most definitely scare away a good slice of your audience. If you feel like some features are hard to explain within a couple of minutes, consider breaking down your videos into parts but first make sure to really polish the videos: cut out every load screen, delete every unnecessary hold-up. Seconds upon seconds turn into minutes. If the video is flowing and more cutting would hurt its consistency, go ahead and divide it into parts.
Tutorial videos mostly appear in the form of a series. You probably already have some getting started tutorials in your user manuals in writing. They help novice users with product adoption and explain more complex functionality of your product.
BTW, several consecutive feature videos can make up a complete functionality tutorial.
Make sure to include the information on how long the tutorial is to the page where it is located. Otherwise, people would need to count this manually which is totally inconvenient and not user-friendly at all.
You can even go as far as adding a short quiz at the end of a tutorial — this part depends on the content you are teaching. If you are creating internal documentation for some company processes and rules, for example, a quiz can work. At the same time, it will look odd in software documentation.
Again, don’t make the series long. 15 minutes look like a realistic time investment you could expect from your readers, we wouldn’t recommend going beyond that for one topic.
Videos are hard to make and they require not only human resources but additional expenses to buy equipment and software. But the value they bring make up for it. Another positive thing here is that plenty of high-quality video content helps your clients view you as a more professional and, therefore, serious and reliable partner.
Good luck with your technical writing!
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