(I Am) Discovering Screencasting

If you’re not familiar with screencasting, wikipedia has a helpful entry. Screencasting has been around since at least 2004, and maybe even earlier, but I just have gotten into it in the past month and I have a sense that it could be an excellent freelance business that has yet to really hit the mainstream. I wonder if in the future every software product will strive to present themselves through well-designed screencasts. I’d like to be a part of that. You can check out a few videos I’ve made that are public work product for Pelago, and I have a lot more in production now.

Introspection. Making a video under three minutes in length requires a clean distillation of the key ideas behind a product or feature, which can be very revealing when someone who isn’t as close to the product tries to do it. For example, sometimes I give more attention to certain areas than the product creators would like – simply because those are the parts of the product with a value proposition I can grasp, get excited about, and explain to others with confidence.

Engagement. Show instead of tell and even ADHD viewers will engage their brains actively for a short burst of focus, as long as the content is interesting and well organized.

Portability. Video is unbelievably easy to distribute on the web, and can immediately influence SEO for your product or product blog as well. Embedding video into blog posts, FAQs, and licensing it under creative commons can virally promote your product for free if the content is worth watching.


  • Greg Jagiello

    Hey there, saw you are getting into screencasting, very cool. I’m an interaction designer and work on many web-apps, and during the course of my work engagement I end up learning the apps really well, yet still having that outside perspective you mention. So making screencasts for me became a natural extension of my client deliverables. I agree that they are really valuable…especially for visual learners, or those who are averse to just jumping in and trying something.

    Here are a couple I’ve done fairly recently:

    TripIt (an online travel itinerary site):
    JobScore (careers and jobs):

    I realized that if I wasn’t already working on the products, I just wouldn’t even offer these…it would take too long to ramp up and understand that my clients would likely balk at the end cost. I also find that anything over 60 seconds becomes very unruly if you are working from a script or have others involved (I always do), so I try and cap them at 60 sec myself.

  • Danielle Morrill

    Hey Greg, I’m finally getting around to watching your screencasts now. I am really impressed by how short and to the point each of them is, definitely something I’m striving for. These definitely are a little more polished than what I’m currently doing, and I usually include some video of people as well, but I am guessing part of the key to such short videos is keeping the production dead simple.

    I’ve felt like the ramp up for producing video on products I’m not very familiar with is so much as to be prohibitive for some – the best person to create a video about their product really is someone who is intimately acquainted with it. It would be fun to build a product with a toolbox for generating product screencasts and a network for distributing them. Thanks for sharing!

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