Today, I`d like to talk to you about how videos are used in technical writing. We all use video instructions. They have become an essential part of our everyday life. We watch YouTube and learn how to repair something, how to cook, and many other how-to things. It means that it is effective. Why not using videos in online technical documentation? That sounds great!
So, when can we use videos instead of other visuals?
- To demonstrate a process that cannot be shown on photos or described in text
- To demonstrate sounds
- To demonstrate a state that cannot be described with photos or text
In these cases, videos are much more effective than other visuals. It is true. But does this mean that videos can be used universally to solve all the problems of technical communication? I should say, it is not a global solution. When a video is used where a picture or a diagram could tick along — documentation becomes overloaded with unnecessary information and it loses its efficiency. Everything is good in its place and at the right time. If you want to use videos, make sure that it is the only suitable way of conveying information. Moreover, make sure that your videos are not too long. They should contain relevant information only and be as short as possible. Sometimes, 3–4 seconds is enough. If you want to convey more information, the optimal duration is about 30 seconds.
How to make your video more efficient, convenient, and accessible?
- Verbal instructions in videos are not always informative. Especially, for users with acoustic disturbances and non-native speakers. It is a great idea to avoid verbal communication. Videos can be informative without it.
- Use subtitles or text to describe your videos. That will be helpful to clarify once again what is on the video and to find the right moment when you are looking for a specific part or information.
- Use videos for targeted information only
In this article ‘Types of Video Content in Technical Documentation’ you will find more information on how videos are classified in technical writing if you want to choose what type of video is suitable for your documents.
In conclusion, I`d like to emphasize that though video adds value to documentation, it cannot substitute it. It can only be used to contribute to the clarity and informativity of documentation. It should be used in the correct way: in the right case and in the right place. Keep in mind this information and create brilliant documentation!
Have a nice day!
Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors