Software training is a common focus of online learning. Within an organisation, new employees often have to become familiar with many software platforms. Software training, therefore, represents a significant part of internal processes. Software training can also be used for software providers as part of onboarding, user support or service packages for that software. Providing training for the users of your software often reduces support needs and improves the initial experience for your users.
In this article, let’s review six tips for creating software training to help you create training which is effective for the task at hand. Teaching participants how to use software has some unique challenges compared to, say, compliance training or soft skills training.
Use the right structure for software training
The very first thing to consider when constructing software training is the structure of the training.
- First, you could structure the training in around the software features. This might be menus, buttons or tabs within the software. This aligns the training with visual navigation within the software.
- Second, you could structure the training around user flows. This means thinking about how users interact with the software and structuring the training around their most common interactions. This might combine a series of features, menus or tabs which are used within a single flow by the user.
There’s no right or wrong choice here. It depends on the software, the uses and your objectives. However before any considerable time is spent creating training content, it is important to make a determined decision about the training structure. This might involve talking with users or mocking up the training titles and agendas.
Of course, the decision made around the training structure will significantly impact the way training content is created, so it’s definitely best to get this decision right up front.
Software training doesn’t need to explain everything
The next thing to consider is the scope of training. Software training doesn’t need to explain everything. Some functions or features within software are self-explanatory and don’t require training content. Software training needs to focus on features or functions which benefit from a training intervention. This tends to be things like…
- First-time user experience
- Software setting and options
- Complex features
- Integrated functions
- The most common user flows
- Powerful features which are not easily understood
- Features which often result in user error or common mistakes
Remember that some aspects of your software can be covered with articles in a knowledge base. Software training needs to focus on areas of your software which would benefit from interaction and explanation.
Use video sparingly
It’s very tempting to use a lot of videos when creating software training. That’s usually a mistake.
While it seems easy to create video from screen capture tools, don’t be tempted to overuse video. Videos take a long time to create and edit. More importantly, if features of functions in your software change, it can be very difficult to edit a small part of a video. Typically you need to re-record the entire video.
This is the big problem with software training and video. Software platforms are easy to update but a video is not.
In addition, video benefits from movement. For example, if your software is largely form-based, would little actual movement on-screen movement while forms are filled in, a video was actually quite boring to watch. However, if your video involves lots of on-screen movement, like video or image editing, then a video is quite useful to follow the flow of the interaction.
As a result, choose your moments of video carefully. They can make a great impact and engage your users when the video content shows action and is relevant to the feature or user flow that you are describing.
Images are the key to software training
A little secret when it comes to software training is that images are the key. Images are far more important than video.
First images are easy to update. A series of six or seven images which represent a user flow in your software is very easy to update if a small part of that flow changes. You can just switch out the relevant image. Capturing and updating images is also far easier than editing an entire video.
Second, there are also benefits for your users. Often uses will be interacting with your software while they participate in the training. This is particularly true if the user returns to the training module at the later date for a refresher. In these cases, a series of images is actually easier for the user to interact with then to be continually pausing and playing a video.
Finally, images can be included in printable materials. A cheat sheet or workbook to accompany your online training can include images, but it cannot include video.
Tribal Habits Narration element is perfect for software training
Another valuable option when creating software training within the Tribal Habits platform is the use of our narration element. Our unique narration element is a hybrid between images and video. It gives you the best of both worlds.
The narration element allows you to combine up to 10 slides of text or images. At the same time, you can write an audio script to be heard with each slide. Tribal Habits automatically assembles your slides and scripts into a fully narrated video with voice over.
To training participants, the experience is just like a video. They can pause, play, skip and rewind. They are built-in captions and video transcripts. Your slides appear in your organisation’s branding with built-in transitions and navigation.
Unlike a video, narrations can be created in moments. The audio for each slide can be read aloud by our built-in high definition artificial voice, or you can upload your own recorded voice-over. You can change images or words in a script and they are immediately applied to the final narration. This makes editing or updating small parts of a narration very easy. If your software changes, you can easily edit one slide, save the results and it’s instantly updated for all training participants.
Narration provides all the interaction and movement of a video but with the ease of creation and editing of text and images. It’s a powerful option and one of the reasons why Tribal Habits is very popular for software training.
Consider assessment options
If you are creating training online then you also have the option to add in some assessments. Assessments serve two purposes.
First, Assessments can include the traditional confirmation of understanding. This might be a part of software certification or user acceptance testing. You can confirm that your training participants understand how to use your software features, how to avoid common mistakes and have a degree of proficiency with your platform.
Second, Assessments can also be used to simply improve understanding. After providing training on a particular feature or functions, you can use interactive elements to check 20 participants understood the material just provided to them. I’ll pass or fail is not the goal at this point. Rather, we use assessments as another way to help training participants understand the content. It allows you to present the same information in a different way, which is often beneficial for different learning styles between participants. Short interactive assessments can also help users calibrate their understanding.
Tribal Habits is the ultimate software training solution
Tribal Habits, as a learning creation platform, is ideally suited for software training.
Tribal Habits allows anyone to capture and transfer knowledge about software. This means your employees or support staff can create software training directly. This allows them to capture not only the process of using the software, but also the little tips and tricks knowing to expert users. All without the need for expensive customised elearning creation.
With Tribal Habits, it’s easy to add both videos and images to your software training. As we mentioned above, our unique narration element is also an extremely valuable tool for software training. Your software training can also include both online and offline assessments too, to boost participant engagement or allow for certification or user acceptance testing.