Best Practices When Creating Interactive Video Tutorials


EDITOR’S NOTE: in this guest blog, Bernard Aschwanden shares key points and insights the he demonstrated in an October 2014. You will find a link to the recording in the purple paragraph above the first illustration.


This session discusses tips to create tutorial videos that enhance the learning experience. I explain the purpose of storyboarding, and detail best practices for storyboarding, and creating, editing and sharing your video content. I also provide a sample of some storyboard screens, and even procedures for creating your first video.


Storyboarding helps you outline video, and provides detailed information on what the people involved in creating a video need to know and do. The reader of a storyboard could be anyone from the SME to a stakeholder reviewing content, so provide a good reference for team members during development, as well as a tool for quality assurance for the final product.

Elements of a good storyboard

A partial list of what you may include in a storyboard follows:

This article supports the eSeminar recorded for Adobe (Sess 2: Best Practices when Creating Interactive Video Tutorial) and explains some core elements of a storyboard, best practices, and common content to include in a video.

Storyboards often include information about audio, visuals, text, and navigation and interactivity.

01 Blog GFX

Audio tips

Include slide-by-slide script and instructions to help developers understand exactly what sound, music, or effects to include.

Sound out specialized words or acronyms so that the narrator, who may not have technical expertise, is given a guide to pronounce difficult words correctly.

Visuals tips

Graphic ideas and notations that describe the screen, such as sketches, text notes or a video link can provide a media team with a helpful starting point to create visual content that aligns with your expectations. Let graphic experts make the final decisions.

If video is needed, don’t just tell the developers the name of it, provide a link. Do what you can to make it easier for others to work with your content.

Text tips

Provide the exact text to display on the screen. Include supporting notes for the narrator such as tone, pronunciation, and demographics of the person doing the audio.

Provide answers to developer questions on course building, such as options a learner can take, requirements that must be followed, logical progression of the course.

Sample storyboard (as a table)

A common storyboard format is Word or Excel table that includes the columns below. This may also include columns, such as: due date, sound added, approved by etc.

ID and topic

Learning objective


On screen content



Basic familiarity with the look and function of a DITAmap, able to ID…

The DITA map is a document that can be compared to a table of contents, or a document plan. ..

Sample DITAmap with basic content, plus sample as code.

Talk to SME to get sample map and as code.


Basics of a reltable with concept, task, reference content.

The reltable, or relationship table is used to define related topics in columns and rows…

Sample reltable with basic content, plus sample as code.

Talk to SME to get sample table and as code.

For more visual SMEs, use a PowerPoint format and provide you notes in the note section below the slides.

It helps to know who uses your storyboard, and what kind of information they need. Knowing the delivery platform for your course, (e.g. web-base, CBT, print), helps you to put information together in the most compatible way. Split the information into manageable parts. Include detailed audio and visual information, and that everyone agrees with the content.

Sample storyboard: How to Change a Password

A helpful storyboard sample is explained in greater detail in the video, and relates to slide 22-27 of the PowerPoint, and was created in FrameMaker, which offers lots of functionality.

Converting a storyboard into a Captivate presentation

To do this easily and efficiently you need the right software. There are many tools out there that build interactive content, however Adobe Captivate exceeds my expectations and lets me complete projects, such as video based training, tests, and content for clients at a professional level.

To get Adobe Captivate, visit . Create an Adobe ID if you do not already have one, download the application, test it and purchase it. If you are interested in other technical communications tools like FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Illustrator, and Acrobat, then consider the full Technical Communications Suite as you get all the above programs, including Captivate.

Preparing to record a video

When creating your first video, use software you are familiar with. Find a simple task to perform, such as how to navigate your company website, how to capture and crop an image with Adobe Photoshop, or use a template to create a Word document. Storyboard how the task unfolds.

This task may be based on existing templates that you have already documented. For example, the task “Create a document based on a template”

  1. Click the Office Button, then select New
  2. Under Template, select Installed Templates
  3. Select Equity Letter
  4. Click Create

Tips before recording

Once you have your task, you are ready to create your first video. Before you do this, it is helpful to create an outline or a storyboard, depending on the complexity of the task. (Self-test: Try to create a storyboard for the video that might be created for the task listed above…)

Plan your steps, configure your screen resolution, and hide unnecessary parts, (e.g. the Windows Taskbar). It is also helpful to perform trial runs of your task, and test the interface. Repeat the task a few times in order to see what happens on screen as you perform standard actions.

Tips during recording

If you need to type, do so in a slow and steady fashion. You later can speed up the playback if needed.

If you are well into your video and you make a mistake while recording, fix the error without pausing because you can always edit the content afterwards.

Tips after recording

Delete any slides that you do not need, and add transition slides if needed. Also, add any notes as text, add graphical callouts, and incorporate audio (if it adds value).

Audio tips

Use a good quality microphone, as well as text in your video to accommodate the hearing impaired. Another good rule is to safe often, and safe backups if needed.

Avoid creating audio dependencies in your actions; complete the task first. Keep your video short, and only pause briefly in appropriate sections of your video playback (if viewers need to see more details, they can click Pause). This video will not win you an Oscar, so please keep your effects simple.

To avoid unwanted audio, do not record in uncontrolled environments and also remember to close your email, and messenger. Take time on your recording, because channels like YouTube only allow a single upload of a video.

Create your first video

Once you have tested your environment and are ready to create a video to share, perform these steps:

  1. Launch Captivate.
  2. Select Create New > Software Simulation.
  3. Under Size, select Screen Area.
  4. Under Recording Type, select Automatic, and Full Demo if required.
  5. Do not pan, and initially exclude narration (add it later if needed).
  6. Click Record, and wait three seconds.
  7. Perform your task.
  8. Press End when you are done recording.
  9. Review your slides, and delete any slides you do not need.
  10. Add audio, or other effects as (and if) needed.

Creating audio

Inside Captivate, click on your microphone and calibrate your microphone and audio if necessary. Record your audio for the corresponding slide, and add effects if required. You can also add interactions, such as instructions and click boxes along the way.

Share the video

To share your video, select File > Publish, set your output options, then create and share. If you wish to create an interactive PDF, it is helpful to have Adobe’s Technical Communications Suite (TCS5). This lets you embed Captivate video into a PDF by using FrameMaker. You can also embed videos in RoboHelp and deliver content using multi-channel publishing to a broad range of formats.


Publishing Smarter can help your business build storyboards, create training videos, and develop interactive content. We can also teach you how to do it yourself.

About our Guest Blogger:

Bernard Aschwanden solves documentation based problems and helps companies generate more revenue. He guides clients through the best processes to create, manage, and deliver content. Once content is delivered, he helps socialize the message, understand and act on feedback, and improve the process and workflow. He is the founder of Publishing Smarter, an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication STC, and the Vice President of STC. Bernard has helped hundreds of companies implement successful solutions. He is focused on publishing better,