Creating a video tutorial series is a great go-to strategy for any training program. When done right, it creates a more manageable learning experience, with content that’s easily reusable.
To get started, check out our six steps to start making a video tutorial program.
#1 Get to Know Your Audience
The first step in creating a great video tutorial series is to get to know your audience.
To start, determine who your target audience is for this video tutorial series. Are they new users, or intermediate users looking to level up? Your focus should be on narrowing down your audience so that your videos can be focused and provide the best instruction. Series that target too broad an audience usually end up missing the mark by making things too easy for some and too hard for others.
If you don’t have access to your users, create a list of everything you already know about them. You might surprise yourself by knowing more than you realized. At the very least, try to establish your target audience and roughly determine their average level of expertise and familiarity with your software.
Here are a couple of questions to help you focus:
- What’s driving you to make this video tutorial series?
- Who would benefit the most from these video tutorials?
- Is your audience mainly first-time users or seasoned veterans?
- How experienced is your average user with technology in general?
With your audience established, you’re next big task is to identify how your audience uses your program. What are the most common workflows and common pain points? These questions should shed some light on where your users need the most help, and what you learn should help you put together a content plan to support them.
#2 Establish Goals for your Video Tutorials
When creating goals, start with the end in mind. Think about what you want your users to be able to do when they’re finished watching your video tutorial series and work your way backwards. Figure out the most important concepts and skills a user needs to know in order to be successful.
To help you get started, here are a few key questions to keep in mind:
- Do my goals cover the most common pain points?
- Are my goals appropriate for the skill level and knowledge of my audience?
- Will my goals fit into the scope and budget for this project?
#3 Create a Content Plan
Write down all of the topics you need to cover for your user to accomplish the goals established above. This list should include everything from large, overarching concepts to small, essential skills.
When finished, walk through the list and mark any natural stopping points in the user workflow. These points signify places you could potentially end one video and start another.
How many video tutorials should you make?
From here, you’ll need to decide how many videos you plan to create and how much content to include in each.
When deciding how much to include in a video, there’s one concept that’s more important than the rest: cognitive load. Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory, which essentially means there’s a limit to how much you can teach and how fast you can teach it. Teach too much or too fast and you’ll frustrate your viewers, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and less likely to continue. Here are a few things you can do to avoid overloading your users.
First, consider the complexity of what you’re teaching. If you’re tackling a really complex concept or skill, you might have to slow down your instruction in exchange for more explanation. Essentially, the more complex a topic, the fewer topics you can teach in the same video, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
- How complex is the topic(s) for this video?
- Can I teach more than one topic at a comfortable pace?
- Do all of the topics in the video relate to one another?
- Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
- How much can I teach before my audience becomes overloaded?
Second, find some people who are willing to provide feedback and walk them through your content plan. It’s best if they vary in skill level and program experience, so you get a broad range of opinions.
Ask them straightforward questions such as, “Now that you’ve watched this video, do you feel confident completing X task?“ Or, from a high level, can they tell you what they learned from the video, and do their answers align with your goals?
Then listen closely to what they say. If you notice any trends in their feedback, you’ll know you need to make some changes.
Lastly, see what has worked in the past. Are there videos similar to the ones you’re creating? If so, give them a look and see what worked and what didn’t.
#4 Structure Your Video Tutorial Series
There are three main points to think about when structuring your video tutorial series:
Order – Does the series need to be watched in a specific order? Or, can the viewers watch each video independently and still accomplish the learning goals? If you plan well, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds.
Participation – What do you expect your viewers to do while watching your series? Should they follow along with their own project/software, or should they simply watch and learn from what you’re doing?
Assessment – What do you want your viewers to do when they finish watching your series? Will this series have assessments that occur throughout or at the end? If not, where do you want them to go after or what do you want them to do when they finish?
#5 Create Your Video Tutorial
Creating the videos is the most time consuming part of the whole process. That said, if you put effort into the planning process, it should dramatically cut down on production time. To get started creating your first video tutorial, check out the video below.
#6 Evaluate and Improve
Finishing your content and publishing it is kind of like sitting in on the opening night for a movie that you created. This is your chance to see what the audience thinks. The information you gather can help determine the success of the content and can help shape its future direction.
Based on what you learn, you may end up making major changes to the structure and pacing. With this in mind, it’s important to come up with a plan for gathering feedback.
Did your video tutorials work?
The first thing to decide is what success looks like. How will you know if your viewers have accomplished your instructional goals? This is a good time to sit down with stakeholders, collaborators and anyone else that has skin in the game, to create a collective response to the question above.
In the long run, this will streamline communication and make it easier to speak to the successes and failures of the project.
Finally, decide what feedback you need to accurately measure the success of your video tutorial series. Not all feedback is equal and it’s important to think about what information is most valuable to you.
For example, is it more valuable to have informal conversations with real viewers, or is it more valuable to look at data points, such as usage analytics and assessment results? Which will help you understand if the viewers have achieved the instructional goals?
With your feedback in hand, start analyzing the success of your series and put together recommendations for improvements moving forward.
Start your video tutorials
If you followed the six steps outlined above, you’re well on your way to creating an amazing set of tutorial videos and your learners will thank you for it. Video is a highly effective medium for instruction, and by breaking the learning into a series, you have a set of reusable content that your users can easily navigate.