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Design Litmus on EE User Guides with Screencasts

My buddy Matt Crest at Design Litmus posted a great article about how to create screencast user guides for your clients. In the past, as I’m sure is the case for most people, he created written documentation or did in-person training to help clients get the hang of managing content on their brand new website. Neither of these solutions is particularly ideal, so he tried something else:

A better setup, however, is to create simple screencast videos of each capability or action a client would use. This way, they can see every hover, click, and keystroke so they know exactly how to do something. You can’t leave out a step in a video demo.

I think this is a stellar idea. I even mentioned this during our EE 2.0 talk at SXSW this year. Imagine a client who only needs to do a couple simple tasks on the site once every month or two. How annoying would it be for them to have to consult their notes or your long-winded how-to PDF just to try to re-remember how to do these things? A simple screencast is definitely the better option.

Matt goes on to explain his setup for doing screencasts, followed by a clever “Choose Your Own Adventure” feature in his post, letting you chose which way you want to embed the screencasts on your site, either in the front-end templates, or as an EE Control Panel Accessory. Your choice determines which tutorial you get. Awesome.

Design Litmus: ExpressionEngine User Guides with Screencasts

Posted on Nov 10, 2010 by Brian Warren

Filed Under: EE Add-ons, EE Accessories, ExpressionEngine 2

David10:47 on 11.10.2010

I have to disagree.  Screencast, documentation in .doc or PDF- all of that just sucks.  You need to put energy into removing unnecessary options and making it drop dead simple to manage.  All documentation should be inline and things should be as simple as possible to understand. If you need to make a video, then you are doing it wrong.

Adam Smith11:39 on 11.10.2010

I love this idea.

I’ve been thinking about switching to screencasts for our clients for a while now. I feel like most generally don’t like reading instructions, but they wouldn’t have a problem watching a 2 minute video.

The idea of making it an accessory makes it an instant win IMO.

Matt Crest16:32 on 11.10.2010

Thanks for the link and commentary Brian. I remember your SXSW talk and you mentioning screencast tutorials - obviously I’m a big fan of the idea.

@David - As dead simple as a system can be, I’d be amazed if you’ve never run into a client that just plain can’t figure something out. I have to say, the clients I’ve provided simple screencasts for have really loved it. To each his own I suppose.