Creating one-off videos for a given set of features or a specific release of your software can be done without planning for the future. But if you want to create a sustainable process to maintain your videos with every software release, having a strategy for your sample data is necessary for product documentation, customer education, and customer success videos.
In an earlier article we discussed the importance of quality scripts as part of a sustainable video production process. Whether you use a narrative style template (great for Explainer videos) or a table style template (a popular option for How-to videos), when an action requires filling in data or selecting a value from a dropdown, an important but sometimes overlooked part of a script is defining the data that will be used during the recording.
Videate offers several solutions to this challenge. You can add annotations or tags to your script and define the data to use along with the narration. To make sample data easier to maintain, we recently added the capability to externalize data into files that can be referenced directly from your tech doc or script. You can reference the same data from multiple scripts so that if the data changes you only have to update the external files. This also greatly simplifies taking your existing documents and adding the data necessary to drive automated video production.
Another thing that can be particularly important when recording videos is when one video depends on data or settings processed in an earlier video. For example, if you were recording a purchase order process, you would have (1) the entry of the PO, (2) the receipt of the goods, and (3) the entry of the supplier’s invoice. If you had to re-record the last step, it could require starting at step 1 again and starting with a fresh purchase order in order to re-record the entire sequence. The same is true for other scenarios such as setting up a network or managing infrastructure.
We’ve noticed that many organizations leave the sample data and configuration settings up to the video producer, which is not really a great way to ensure consistent data across videos. An increasing number of companies we speak with now have tools to refresh the database or preserve state so that the values can be reset when they need to re-record a sequence of videos in a specific order. If you want to make videos at scale, you always need to define the data to make the videos.
If you think about the sample data when you create your script template it will make recording a lot easier. A great way to organize How-to video scripts is in a simple table format with four elements:
What to say (narration)
What to do (click path)
Special Effects (Zoom, Highlight, Box, etc)
Three things really matter to make great software videos; Consistent script templates, sample data, and a way to refresh your database so the next time you record the data is in a clean state. Videate supports multiple script formats including Google Docs, Word, XML (inc. DITA), and AsciiDoc. And remember, whether your record manually or via automation sequence matters.