Video Best Practices: Details Matter

Penny Test

I presented these slides at LavaCon 2015. My hope is that people will comment with their experiences and feedback. I’d love to hear of any resources to add, especially if it comes from small businesses.

High Points

  • Consider the details, even if the overall idea ends up being more important than the fine print.
  • Think about content, but also about setting too (visual and audio)
  • Rehearse and practice


Alright, here’s a test. Which penny is the most accurate? (The answer at the bottom of this post.)

Penny Test
Which penny is the REAL penny?

Why am I doing this test? A penny is a common element. We all see and use it on a regular basis. But how many of us really look at a penny? Does President Lincoln face right or left? What are the words? Where does the date go?

Pay attention to details. You’re a proficient user. When you get good at something, you forget some of the small things that may trip up your user.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe all your user needs to know is that a penny is copper, circular, and has a face and some words. As long as it’s basically recognizable, you just count it and move on.

As you write your script, think about all the actions that really go into performing the task.

When recording your screen, think about your icons on your desktop and in your taskbar. Clear out non-relevant items. What picture are you using as wallpaper?

If you’re typing a URL into your browser, what other suggestions come up that might influence your user? What other folders and filenames are on your computer? Anything embarrassing? Anything that could compromise your security?

And it’s not just content: think about setting too.

  • Visual: Screencast – clean your desktop. Real life – lighting, how you fit in the frame, and can you see everything that’s important?
  • Audio: Is there a fan by your desk? Crowds? Wind in an outdoor setting?

Photo credits:


For further reading:

  • Techsmith’s tutorial on Camtasia: clean up your desktop, write a script, practice, and record good audio

Quiz answer: The answer is the penny in the upper right corner.