How-to Videos

2013-07-01 07:08
Written by

Returning to CiviCRM videos after some time on other projects, the team at Circle Interactive are now starting to think again about developing a CiviCRM community video project based on the ideas in Young Jin’s blog of Feb 2012.

We specifically see the need for the short instructional videos aimed at the new user (identified as Type C), ideally, less than three minutes long covering common aspects of configuring and using CiviCRM in bite-size pieces. We think this would provide not only a useful set of how-tos but also if they’re done in the right way it will contribute to general marketing - providing more reassurance to decision makers that the support network and documentation is actually just as good if not better than commercial products. We also want everyone contributing this type of video to work on a standard demo site for consistency. We think this should use the Seven theme on Drupal with some minimal modification to bring in some CiviCRM branding across the top. Seven works well with Civi and gives it a clean modern look. We've got a site together and will give anyone who wants to help, a login to this. Ideally we'll move this to 

After some discussion we thought the best way to put the videos together should be in an open modular way, that can be reassembled in translation. It should be easy to create new content and produce translations of existing content. 

We're starting with a list of videos that we think will make a good basis for people to get started with Civi.This is currently

  • add custom field set
  • add contacts to group
  • use advanced search
  • create a smart group
  • send mass mail
  • view mailout reports
  • record an activity
  • create custom activity
  • create event
  • configure a membership
  • simple import contacts - include debugging

But we're happy to listen to any other suggestions and have a longer list for the subsequent 20, 30, 40... Each video will have a public project page perhaps on Google Docs to start with, though we might move this to the wiki or elsewhere on There should be the following for each

  • Video Title and an introduction to the topic
  • A script probably in English first, but eventually translations in other languages
  • Any translated scripts
  • An audio-free accompanying video based on the script, (ready to have a soundtrack added)
  • An audio file for the soundtrack
  • Any full versions with audio editing already done
  • Links to generic resources such as top and tail graphics

We’re also planning to document the production process in more detail and make the demo site available for anyone else who wants to contribute.

We have made a start on this and hope to have a set of videos ready for the next European Civicon. We’ll keep you up to date.




Dave - kudos for getting this rolling. The plan's support for adding translated audio and providing resources for collaborative production seems really well thought-out. I have a slight preference for using the wiki for the public project pages. In terms of 'location' - might work nicely with a views-based directory for folks can find videos by topic and language.



Check out with josue, he made nice videos a while ago. Not sure he updated them with the new versions.

As for the layout, have you checked what john did ? this bootstrap based theme has the benefit of being "super standard" while looking nice. IMO, useful to have these two actions using the same layout



Generally speaking videos are a good idea, although past efforts have failed to reach the goal due to over-planning and/or under-execution.   While I like your thoughts (particularly the internationalization part) let's remember this can be exceedingly simple.   It takes 15 minutes to plan and record (one to three takes) a decent screencast and post it on Vimeo.   Take care not to make the video creation so complex that you can't easily re-do a video once every 6 months to a year - you will need to as versions change frequently.

I often make very rapidly produced videos for clients (specifically for their needs).   A paid video teaching service is an idea that has been mulled for a while, but I haven't bothered, cause I think there is not a large market for it.  I could be wrong.  I could just fold my efforts into this one if it gets going.

Seven is a favorite theme for Civi techies and developers, and I really don't know why.  It lacks a sidebar.   Why hide useful tools like "Recent Items" and other CiviBlocks from your users?  Go with Antonelli.  It has the style of a modern theme, is full width, and has a sidebar.


Thanks for the comments. 

Dave: we'll move docs to wiki and get views etc set up.

Erik: will send you links once that's done

Xavier: will drop Josue a line

Stoob: one thing we want to get away from is the video that looks like it took 15 minutes to plan and record. Part of the aim is to present a more professional face to end users and decision makers. This is an area where we can take on other high value products and produce lots of high quality material that looks slick, is consistent and multi-lingual. Hopefully most of these elements won't change much from release to release. We're going to be looking at the really simple stuff like how to record an activity, how to configure your dashboard etc. If there is a well thought out script for each element, then subsequent version changes should be a quick change to make.


Thanks, I understand your perspective now.  I don't work in a high end marketplace, so that's my perspective.  I'd offer that of the list of the actions you are desribing most generally don't require training.  If training is required it's more of a philosophical question the user needs answered like "what kind of custom field do I create?" and "when do I use a smart group" or "when do I used advanced search and when a report" not "how".  Good luck.

This was slower to get off the ground than I thought, but beginning to make some progress with editing and scripts now. It's difficult to make something look professional when still learning the skills required and using FOSS software for production, but hopefully the methodology is one that can be replicated by anybody anywhere for little outlay.

There's definitely another blog post  in detailing the production method. Needless to say, it's currently a lot of small videos stiched together, as the technique improves hopefully the small videos will get longer and less stiching will be required.

I've only a few hours a week to devote to this at the moment, but will hopefully have some good demonstations for CiviCon next month, maybe even post afew tasters mid-september - watch this space!