This week each business gave us their persepctive on how things were going with Camtasia today versus during the first week. Are they using it in ways different than they originally thought they would? Are there new barriers that popped up? What’s been the initial reaction to their finished screencasts, both internally and from their clients?
CiesaDesign consists of 16 staff members with a wide range of skills in print and digital communications. Chris VanWyck and Thomas Ro gave us their perspective on week three.
Have you thought of new ways you might use screencasting in your business?
Thomas: Our training-oriented screencasts feature a lot of in depth demonstration on the use of our sites and technology. Visually, this could also contribute to capabilities demostrations or self-promotion–not just for web-based applications, but the use of any visually striking software such as graphics and animations tools.
Chris: We have almost exlusively used screencasting for technical training in the past. From the creative side of the business, I will be looking to use it in a much braoder sense as a story-telling tool. As brand development experts, we are tasked with positioning our clients’ brands in the most authentic and consistent ways possible. I see adding screencasting to our list of tactical communication vehicles.
From a time management/people management perspective, do you feel like screencasting will be a realistic addition to your arsenal?
Thomas: We’ve found great value in being able to record on-screen activity because it makes our message easier to understand for our clients. When demostrating a particular process, there is no longer the abstraction of written instruction, because the process itself is unfolding for the viewer. For us, it also saves time in preparing this communication, because it’s now a matter of doing the thing and not having to write and proof large paragraphs of text about it.
Chris: Yes, as our client base becomes more and more international in scope, we have a greater need to use tools that allow us to communicate at a distance without losing that personal touch. Screencasting allows us to bring our process to clients in a more efficient and effective way.
Would you recommend this software to another small business professional?
Thomas: As one whose duties are primarily focused on technology and development, I would recommend it because it allows me to represent myslef and communicate without the effort of ‘translating’ for those not familiar with said technology.
Chris: Yes, I can see this software being used for everything from technical training to community outreach.
Have you shared any of your screencast work so far? What’s been the initial reaction?
Thomas: We’ve shared screencasts with many clients and with one another, and the reactions have been very positive. The level of understanding between every party has been markedly better than when we’ve done verbal, in-person, or written demonstrations.
Chris: Clients also love that they can go back and use screencasts as tutorials whenever they need reference.
What other software have you recommended to other small business professionals?
Thomas: For those that use Tickspot for time tracking, Tick Desktop Timer is an essential tool for professionals that find tracking their time to be a hassle.
Chris: BaseCamp from 37 Signals for better team organization and transparency in process and workflow and Skype and Google + Hangout for more authentic personal interaction. Additionally, I use an online tool called WhatTheFont to identify unknown fonts quickly.
Lauren Colton, Information Architect and Editor at Gravity Works Design & Development, gave us her thoughts.
Looking back on the past few weeks, have you come across of new ways you might use screencasting, different than what you originally thought?
Everyone at Gravity Works is constantly looking to learn new things. We’re approaching the Camtasia Challenge with the same drive that has us developing Android, iPhone, and iPad applications the very month new devices hit the market.
Gravity Works Design & Development has a very open and collaborative environment, so I am most likely to walk over and talk to team members about where this button should go or how that menu should appear. And things move quickly: in a given day, I could be working with a local business (American Flooring), statewide organization (Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists), and a national advocacy group (Lupus Foundation of America).
Camtasia isn’t as helpful for internal design collaboration as I had expected. But for quality assurance, Camtasia has a few benefits I am starting to tap. Even if an error is simple to replicate, I give developers more to work with by recording quality assurance tests. Instead of creating multiple Jing videos—once I have replicated a bug—I can create one Camtasia recording of my tests, and edit that video to share highlights with developers.
We know that every client deserves a personalized answer. If two clients ask how to add an image to their website, they will receive a personalized answer. While Jing has been my go-to option for quickly responding to questions, Camtasia does seem to offer more polish. For initial training documentation especially, we are always pushing for more clear and precise communication.
It was very useful to embed screencasts in my talk, Your English Teacher was Wrong, which I gave in February at Refresh Detroit. Words connect people in phenomenal ways, but it’s easy to get distracted by compound modifiers or gerunds. I can use Camtasia to help engage people with the concepts of plain language.
Jeff Siarto, Co-Founder and Director of Analytics, told us a little more about their third week of the test drive.
Have you thought of new ways you might use screencasting in your business, different than what you originally thought?
Screencasting remains our primary method for demoing software to new and potential clients. As we grow our business, I see us pushing more screencasts internally to help train new employees. Given how much of our work is in the browser, screencasts remain the best way to quickly build high-quality training.
From a time management perspective, do you feel like screencasting will be a realistic addition to yoru arsenal?
Definitely. Our only other option for training is in-person–and while this is fine for our local team–we have employees all over country (and the world, occasionally) so face-to-face training would become cost prohibitive. Screencasting is also a very powerful internal communication tool. Given the low barrier to entry, everyone on the team can quickly share ideas via video without a ton of training overhead.
Would you recommend this software to another small business professional? How would you introduce and encourage screencasting to someone else?
Yes, in particular small businesses that have a web presence or rely on web traffic for business. I think the best way to introduce someone to the concept of screencasting is to just make one. Sit down at the computer and record a video of yourself buying something on Amazon, quickly edit the piece and publish. You could probably do this in less than 10 minutes, and I can’t think of a better way to convince someone that this is an important communication medium for their business.
Have you shared any of your screencast work so far? What has been the initial reaction?
We have shared our videos both internally and with our clients–the feedback is always good. I know our developers appreciate the clarity of seeing bugs actually happen instead of having to decrypt a sometimes vague description of the problem. Also, our clients are busy people and screencasting remains the quickest way to demo software or explain new features.
What’s in your professional “toolbox?”
Including analysts, programmers and designers, here is our top 5:
1) Skype — Video, voice and especially chat. This is the lifeline of our business.
2) EchoSign– Paper contracts were so last decade. Saves tons of time and paper, and we get our contracts signed a whole lot faster.
3) Basecamp — Not that this needs any introduction, but we use Basecamp for some project management and posting invoices to our bookkeeper source.
4) GitHub — This is where we keep all our code (closed and open source).
5) Radian6 — One of the top providers of raw social media data. We’ve tried almost every aggregator and social media dashboard out there and nothing holds a flame to the quality and quantity of Radian6′s data.
Adam Henige, Co-Founder of Netvantage Marketing, gave us some insight into their third week of the test drive.
In your third week of the test drive, what new ideas have come about, knowing that screencasting is an option for you?
This week we were discussing some ways to improve the services pages on our website, and amongst our ideas was to make them less wordy and more visual. One of the difficult things about what we do is that it can be hard to explain, so I started thinking about doing a case study using Camtasia. I assembled a handful of opened web pages for a case study for one of our clients – Swimtown Pools.
It took me a couple of takes to get through everything, and for the first time I dove into the editing features. I was able to add emphasis to key points in my presentation and zoom in to highlight the relevant areas of the screen. The more I worked with it, I realized what an effective sales tool this could be. After discussing it internally, we love the idea of following up with people at networking events with a link to check out our case studies. It can be hard for us to get people to understand how we build links and what type of results they can get from using our services, but a screencast makes this incredibly easy.
Our first attempt is still a bit rough around the edges, but we will likely be assembling these to go along with a variety of other case studies we will soon be adding to our website. Again, the more we use Camtasia the more exciting possibilities we find for our business. I would definitely recommend this to other small business owners, as I think it provides the ability to quickly and easily produce professional looking educational and sales presentations. Not everyone small business has someone with the skills to shoot and edit video, but anyone can create a screencast. Though, if you pick up software pretty quickly and aren’t afraid of video and audio equipment, I would definitely recommend picking up Final Cut Pro if you wanted to combine professional video editing with your screencasting, as I think that will be our next video venture.
Watch Netvantage’s case study on Swimtown Pools:
Andrea Poole is a customer content specialist at TechSmith. She enjoys singing and playing the ukulele, a cappella music, running, and a good game of Euchre. Tweet her up @andiepoole or put her in a Google+ Circle.