Companies are often faced with a major challenge when they first look at the screencast topic.
They are wondering how they can professionally produce video content for the description of IT products, how much a good screencast will cost compared to “off the shelf” technical documentation and where they can provide the video instructions if YouTube is not an option.
We have dedicated ourselves to these topics for you and show in 4 steps why you as a company need professionally create and manage video instructions for, for example, enterprise software, IT services and IT infrastructures.
What is a screen capture or screencast?
A screencast is a digital video recording of your screen. It is like a screenshot, just longer :).
The screen recording is often supplemented by the specific highlighting of certain elements: by zooming in, highlighting in color or by hiding disruptive content.
An explanatory voice accompanies the whole thing and ensures a better understanding. The linguistic support of the video material is, in my opinion, an important part of a screencast and fills the image material into full instructions.
Screencasts are just one of many ways to document an IT system, IT infrastructure, IT services or software.
But where usual instructions in text format alone fail, software videos are an ideal addition to present your users with complex issues in a comprehensible and easily understandable way.
Who needs a screencast and who is not?
According to a 2013 study of young people, young target groups in particular are not aligning their brand awareness with status symbols, but with things that make their lives easier.
They prefer videos for quickly grasping knowledge about products and finding quick solutions to often complex problems.
What is “normal” for users of the younger generations is also enjoying increasing popularity with other target groups such as technical experts and, above all, increasingly in the enterprise software and IT environment.
As a company, you can successfully use screencasts to convey knowledge for the users of your products, i.e. for your customers, but also your employees and potential new customers.
From the initial setup of the notebook for new employees, the functional overview of a digital telephone system, the virtual interactive company tour to familiarization with your complex software products. All this and more is possible with various screencast variants.
Compared to the usual text instructions in technical communication, on-screen or video instructions are also associated with additional work.
A technical writer or technical editor can easily plan 3-6 hours for one minute of high-quality video material. The screencast of complex instructions can often include several minutes of final video material.
A five-minute manual can therefore require between 15 and 30 hours in production. Text instructions for the same instruction, on the other hand, take around 10-15 hours to book.
If your product is designed intuitively and therefore easy to use, the additional investment in video documentation (apart from marketing purposes) will hardly be justified for technical documentation.
In this case, do without the video instructions and invest your time better in the quality of your text instructions.
In short: the more complex your product and the more it requires explanation, the more likely you should include video material in your documentation project.
What types of screencasts are there?
Depending on the product, the context of use, and target group, different types of screenshots of your software or services can be used to support technical communication. Popular representatives of screencasts are:
- Training videos, video courses, or e-learning
- Webinars and presentations
- Product and company films
- Unboxing videos
- Congress and trade fair reports (product news, etc.)
- Behind-the-scenes videos (a look behind the scenes of your product creation)
- Animated videos and demo presentations
What is the added value of investing in good screencasts?
- Properly created, videos are easy to capture, to the point, and available anywhere.
- Screencasts can be interrupted, skipped and then continued at a later point in time. Your users therefore always have their own learning pace in their own hands.
- Your users can jump back to missed passages and view complex action steps several times if necessary.
- If your instructions are available to everyone online on the web, for example because you are in the business-to-customer sector (B2C) and your products appeal to a broad target group, screencasts can also be used for marketing purposes. Targeted distribution of screen video recordings or tutorials via social media can create an understanding of your product and inspire you with its ease of use.
- The user gets to know how to use it before purchasing your product and identifies with your brand, the product and the instructions. This creates additional trust and increases the recommendation rate.
- Create a deep connection between the user and the product, because viewers and potential customers are happy to pass on when they have been well informed and have found a great, simple product for a complex problem. An important factor for a positive purchase decision!
5 Good Screencast Software to Make Your Video Instructions Successful
Tool 1: Camtasia – the popular representative of screencast software
Camtasia from TechSmith home is widespread in the screencast sector and is available for Windows and Mac. What is particularly attractive about the software is that project files are compatible between the two platform versions. It is practical when colleagues work on different systems.
A combination of screencast and webcam recording is possible without any problems and creates closer proximity to the viewer as required. Camtasia comes with a variety of royalty-free, ready-to-use backgrounds, songs, and transition effects.
You can integrate quiz questions into your recordings and draw the attention of your users through annotations or targeted zooming, panning and animation.
The tool is available for $274.99 per single-user license. Discounts for teams and educational institutions are possible.
If you don’t want to install an application or are looking for something simple and fast, the FlexClip screen recorder is a good alternative. With a few clicks, you can make a video recording from the screen and webcam with sound.
It also allows you to edit the clip after it has been created. The FlexClip video editor has all the necessary tools, such as trimming, uploading music and adding various effects. To save the finished video, use the “download” button, which also allows you to immediately publish it on YouTube and in some other services.
The service can be used for free, however, in this case, the recording is made with a duration limit of 10 minutes.
Tool 3: Adobe Captivate – the hidden champion for slide-based screencast recordings
Adobe Captivate is known in the field of e-learning videos and advertises with particularly intuitive operation and fast creation of e-learning content.
With the tool, you can create learning content and virtual reality guides for your company in just a few minutes and create augmented reality scenarios for mobile devices.
But not only that, because Captivate also offers the possibility to take screen recordings and to record your software demos and other videos.
What we find particularly charming at Adobe, in addition to the usual multi-track editing, is the ability to record slide-based screencasts.
Each scene is created as a single slide that can be edited or exchanged afterwards. This may save a minute or two of editing effort in the event of changes.
Even when translating text content within your recording, you are usually faster with text extraction.
The tool is available from 33.99 dollars per user with an Adobe subscription. Discounts for teams and educational institutions are possible.
Tool 4: OBS Studio – The free all-rounder
The Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is an open-source software that was originally developed for the gaming scene and is very popular there in the streaming world. This free product is also justified for screencasts in technical communication.
OBS offers the possibility to manage several scenes in your screencast, edit audio tracks, and export them in several formats.
In addition to the fact that OBS is completely freely available, what speaks in favor of OBS is that the gaming scene has placed various videos, tutorials and instructions for using the tool. This makes it particularly easy for you to get started.
Tool 5: Screencast-O-Matic
With Screencast-O-Matic you can record the screen in the browser as an add-in or download the tool as a standalone app.
Specialized in educational institutions and companies, it is easy to use, like the tools mentioned above, and enables the integration of audio recordings and webcam images for closer viewing.
The tool limits the user to a cast length of 15 minutes in the free version and builds an unfortunately unsightly watermark into the video. In the free version, therefore, it is rather unsuitable for the corporate context.
The paid version starts as a subscription for $4 for the deluxe version or $5.75 for the premier license per user.
More screencast software
There are various other software providers for screen recording tools – it is of course not possible to illuminate all of them.
We have collected a few other representatives in the division for you to give you an overview. In the following list you will find tools for the Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems – which, depending on your requirements, could also be of interest to you:
RecordCast (Fresh on the market | easy to use)
Quicktime Player (For Mac | often already installed)
Screenium (For Mac | for a fee from $26.99)
CamStudio (few additional functions | intuitive operation | free of charge | for Windows)
Screencastify (Browser Addin for Chrome | free with restrictions)
Kazam (For Linux | Modern Interface)
A good screencast of your software does not necessarily require a large budget. Even with a reasonable financial investment, you can create useful video instructions for your users.
What’s more, it is important to approach the project in a structured manner and to create a script. You should also coordinate this with your stakeholders and your line manager and have it approved.
Behind software documentation in video format, there is a little more effort compared to the “commercially available” text instructions. A structured approach saves you from unpleasant conversations.
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