Internet Psychologist Graham Jones addressed this question in his most recent weekly email.
Video is everywhere online. Indeed, YouTube is now the second biggest search engine, according to recent figures. When people can’t find what they want on Google, they turn instead to YouTube to find an answer, before they head off to alternative search engines such as Bing or Yahoo…
As you read this, 2,200 videos are being watched online at this very moment in time. Every day 184m videos are downloaded…
Who, for instance, would have thought that a video showing how electricians can use a tool for wrapping wires would be interesting? Yet, it receives an average of 8 views per day – so far totting up over 7,000 views on YouTube alone. True, this is not viral, but take a look at the statistical graph that YouTube shows for each video like this. In other words, even with comparatively boring topics, video is becoming more and more important online. If video were merely something interesting to add to a website as part of the furniture you would not expect the growth in viewing that videos like this receive.
Graham argues you cannot afford to ignore video. Whilst it is a requirement for your company’s online (i.e Web site) presence, do audiences expect it in the online Help and other forms of support documentation? Possibly not yet, but how long will it be before video is a fundamental part of User Assistance?
I have a great respect for Graham and his expertise, and video is something we’ve been implementing for a while (as an aside, we are both speaking at an event on Social Media later this month).
I’m sure neither of us would argue that video will replace text. Instead, people will expect information to be delivered through a variety of media.
The questions for Technical Authors are:
- Can they be sure they will be the people creating this type of information?
- If someone else does the work, will the Technical Author’s relevance and importance take a step down the corporate ladder?
- If they are expected to do this work, do they have the skills to do a good job of it?
- Which will come first – the video or the text? Will it be easier to create the video and transcribe the text, or to create a video from the information provided in a user guide?
YouTube was founded as recently as 2005, and the growth of video has been stratospheric since then. The need for Technical Authors to develop their video strategy may come sooner than they think.