During my 6 month internship at Bosch Building Technologies (BT), I
worked on a concept for how-to videos. The company was publishing
their software documentation in PDF format and as on-screen help. The
idea was to establish a new format in addition to the existing docs:
Use case-oriented videos to guide the user through a specific task.
Bosch BT sells a range of surveillance cameras and software to manage
them, which is called BVMS (Bosch
System). Since BVMS aims to be a solution for
everyone, from small shop owners to video operators at an airport, it
has a lot of different functionalities and is rather complex.
In fact, the complexity is so high that customers can book specialized
training courses to get their use cases optimally covered. The
documentation is a PDF with more than 300 pages and describes what
each and every button does, rather than focusing on tasks. That might
leave the amateur video controller with more questions than before. To
fill this gap, I came up with a concept for user-centered how-to
The project had two goals:
Create videos covering the most frequent tasks to support new users.
Enable all technical writers at Bosch to produce how-to videos for
The project took about 4 months from collecting use cases to the first
upload. I'll explain the process and which problems I had faced in the
Gather use cases
To create a backlog of possible videos, my supervisor spoke to the
product manager, customer support, trainers, and local market
Select use cases
Together with the product manager, my supervisor selected the most
important use cases. I worked on the use case: 'As a configurator, I want to
set up motion recording for nights and weekends so
that I can save storage'. With motion recording, the camera only writes to a hard drive when
it detects a moving object. The video walks the user through a
configuration scenario for nights and weekends.
Write a script
A script helps to record and edit more efficiently because you need to
think about the concrete steps in the correct order. My template
contains four columns:
Instruction: This column mainly serves as
guidance for the creator. I inserted the steps from the
documentation to outline the general structure.
Comment: This column provides additional
information that is not obvious from what you see on screen. I
placed callouts in the video based on the comments.
Sequence: The sequence column is used for the
actual recording. U means user and describes the steps I performed
during the recording session. S stands for system and describes
CC: CC is short for closed caption. I provided
subtitles so that an audio file can be recorded if desired.
Furthermore, search engines can index subtitles, and therefore,
Create and edit video
Before recording, I made sure I had the necessary equipment (camera,
encoder, and storage). After a dry run, I recorded one chunk at a time
to make editing afterward easier. I used Camtasia to record and edit
the video, as it was designed to create screencasts efficiently. The
editing process was straightforward, so I won't go into detail here.
Feel free to
reach out if you want to know
Create a style guide, templates, and work aids
There was no specific style guide for how-to videos, which is why I
created a new one based on Bosch-specific design rules. To facilitate
the video creation process, I provided a template for the script, as
well as reusable elements for Camtasia, see fig. 4.
Since my goal was to enable every tech writer to create how-to videos,
I created an in-depth video creation guide on the internal wiki. It
covered everything from writing the script to basic editing techniques
and advice on using the style guide and templates.
Ask for feedback and incorporate it
I was asking multiple people to provide feedback to get many different
aspects. I included my supervisor, the product manager, UX designers,
marketers, and users.
Since the marketing team was in charge of the YouTube channel, I
handed over the video, the closed caption file, and suggestions for
hashtags. Feel free to have a look at the final video.
Since I introduced how-to videos as an addition to the existing docs, I
had to do some groundwork and encountered these challenges:
Initially, the product manager wanted the videos to be as low-cost as
possible. Therefore, he did not plan for narration. A user test that I
conducted, revealed that half of the users didn't miss audio, whereas
the other half felt that it might be useful. After some research, I
found that text-to-speech processing using an AI voice would be a
possible solution, as it is fast, produces consistent results, and the
only cost is licensing. Due to budgeting, Bosch decided not to
purchase a text-to-speech license. Nevertheless, the closed caption
boosts findability in search engines.
Issues with Camtasia 2018:
A bug in the software randomly drops one to four frames at the
beginning of a screen recording. Since the department hadn't bought a
new version of Camtasia yet, I worked around the problem by starting
the recording and doing nothing for the first few seconds. This way,
you create a margin from which you can cut out the black frames
without losing important information.
Another issue was consistency. Since the videos are customer-facing
documentation, a uniform look and feel is very important. However, I
discovered that some stakeholders were already creating how-to videos,
but were using a different template or no template at all.
I reached the first goal, as the video provides a step-by-step tutorial
for new users.
The second goal was to enable tech writers across Bosch BT to create
their own videos which I did by documenting the video creation process.
Furthermore, I facilitated video creation by providing video editing
templates. However, it did not lie within my power to decide how many
videos should be produced, since the managers are in charge of capacity
I also tested the how-to video in a
documentation user test. The
screenshot below illustrates the potential applications and benefits of
this new form of documentation. The customer support even turned my
video into a
knowledge base article
(long after I was gone).
Communication is key. Getting everyone on board
requires a lot of talk and negotiation. Sometimes, my stakeholders would
feel left out of the conversation because I wanted to push forward when
they needed more context. I learned to address all involved stakeholders
and listen to them. This way, I overcame internal resistance and got
Version control is a challenge. To speed up the video
creation process, I provided templates. During this project, I focused a
lot on the editing process but did not think of a workflow for updating
templates. As it turns out, importing and using templates in Camtasia
2018 is a manual process. When a template changes, you need to replace
all elements by hand - a tedious process. In retrospect, asking
questions like "How to incorporate changes in tool XYZ?" and "How will I
make sure everyone uses the same version?" would have gone a long way.