top of page

Videos and/in documentation: a match made in heaven?

“We would like to provide the documentation in video form, is that possible?”

To that we reply: “It sure is! At Flow we happily take on that question.”

The underlying reason for the question is perfectly valid: Plain documentation instructions can be rather indigestible. Even if the instructions are compiled perfectly content-wise and contain relevant illustrations and screenshots, they can still be less appealing or inviting to some people than a – potentially flashy – video with background music.

TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram…

For years, YouTube has been one of the most popular online video platforms on the planet. These days, other social media (TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram) also offer a wealth of instructions videos for just about every pastime activity imaginable. There is quite some potential to convey information more visually and dynamically.

Why use videos?

Informed decisions are valuable, which is why you need to find out the purpose of the videos: Are they meant to completely replace the written documentation, or rather clarify certain aspects of a subject matter in an alternative way? How you answer the question will help determine the strategy and set-up of a series of instructional videos.

The user advantages

Before boarding the video train, everyone involved should be aware of what providing documentation using videos has to offer. Instructional videos certainly beat written texts with pictures in several ways:

  • Faster: A video takes you by the hand, so to speak, and requires less concentration. This is especially true when the videos are brief, taking no longer than a few minutes.

  • More clarity, less ambiguity: Certain specific operations are hard to put into words. Moving pictures help convey this type of information more efficiently.

  • Easier to understand and more inclusive: Using specific video tools that allow emphasising, zooming in, speeding up or slowing down, etc. makes specialised information accessible. This also helps people with dyslexia or a language delay to receive information correctly.

Some remarks

There are a few remarks that can prove to be important, especially in the long run, for technical teams who (want to) use videos and for people who produce video documentation:

  • Not or barely searchable: If the video is used as an alternative, keep in mind that you cannot search the actual video images. A possible partial solution is adding a navigation pane and a transcript. However, this takes more production time.

  • More time-consuming: On average, an instructional video easily takes one or several hours of production time for each minute of footage. An important factor influencing production time is that processing feedback on a video takes more time than processing feedback on a written text. You should also think ahead about possible adaptations and translations.

  • Less reusability: Smart reuse of text has become commonplace in modern documentation (tools), but for videos the situation is different. For each snippet both the voice over as well as the image have to fit.

Videos and/in documentation: our conclusion

We are convinced that video as a documentation tool belongs in the toolbox of everyone who conveys information, helps users, or manages knowledge. Just like you cannot build a house with just a hammer, making smart combinations is key. No either-or situation, but for example, you can enrich a regular written manual containing concepts, instructions, and screenshots with a few cherry-picked videos.

Images from a video series for Vandersanden, which are a part of an employee’s knowledge retention. The videos demonstrate the working method as an addition to a set of written instructions.


bottom of page