A way to free yourself of Groundhog Day
The CiviCRM community has been working on a new website for civicrm.org. As part of the civicrm.org redesign-launch Emphanos has been working on a producing a set of 3 to 4 medium length (5 to 10 min) screencasts to complement the launch of the re-branded CiviCRM.org website. We've worked out a lot of the technical and production issues surrounding the production of a clean, professional looking screencast. We've surveyed the field and researched the best practices in the subject matter and have learned some key lessons which we've incorporated in our learning video production pipeline.
Current state of CiviCRM screencasts for redesign-launch
We have created a total of 4 screencast scripts. One of those we have fully revised and edited to create an "overview-informational" screencast on "The Basic Contact Record" and produced a full screencast in draft video form. The scripts were conceived by Kevin Krupp, edited by Dave Greenberg and Young-Jin. Take a look at our first finished video here:
http://screencasts.emphanos.net based on Script 1 available here
Let us know what you think. The current video is revision 3, we expect to have 1 more revision cycles based on feedback from the community for this screencast on "The Basic Contact Record".
We premiered this particular screencast at our January Chicago CiviCRM meetup to great effect for newcomers; they immediately understood the power of seeing all past interactions on a single unified summary screen and were impressed by the scope of CiviCRM's capabilities, all this within less than 10 minutes of watching the video. We might be able to use screencasts as intro materials for our meetups to quickly on-board and educate newcomers about CiviCRM, in the vein of "Hello Meetup-attendee, meet CiviCRM on the screen, then show up to our meetup to meet us in person"
Screencast Lessons Learned thus far...
Screencast scripts need to be edited, reviewed and vetted ahead of recording [this is the most time consuming part of the process! But it is also the most readily crowd-sourced component!]
Three distinct narrative styles exists and should be employed for different purposes: A) story-based approach, B) overview-informational, C) task-oriented how-to [A) long --> B) medium length --> C) short]
Consistent look and feel through the use of standardized call-out boxes, highlights, overlays, key-frames to create a coherent visual style maximizes comprehension
Audio quality is very important and should be recorded separately from the on-screen interactions
Video quality is close second, but the overall user experience mostly hinges on audio quality (i.e. suppressing noise, pops and hisses for the audio track)
We firmly believe that having professionally looking, informative screencast that showcase the flexibility and power of all of the built in functions within CiviCRM will go a long ways of promoting the product and making it speak for itself. The current distinct lack of compelling screencasts is hurting us as a community. Luckily we now have all the tools in our arsenal to change that and we think we've come up with a very streamlined production pipeline that will get us from nearly zero to a basic library by launch time.
Where we need community support moving forward
Here's what is currently missing and we'll need the community to help us with (in order of importance):
Review and edits on the other 2 remaining draft scripts for "Contacts: Search and Find" and "Events: Setup a free event" which are both story-based. We've setup a Google Doc to collect comments on the current scripts http://goo.gl/Skm0d
Additional tailored "story-based" scripts for different target audiences (tire-kickers, marketing towards an untapped niche vertical, improving broader public user-base understanding of core functionality and features)
Intro & Outro matching the new brand identity of the relaunch (Rayogram is working on these)
Financially sustainable backing through a screencast MIH campaign that will enable us to produce up-to-date screencasts to highlight each new feature for a given new release of CiviCRM to stay current with fresh screencasts at all times (major features would be covered in a overview-informational screencast, improvements in UI and UX covered in task-oriented how-to screencasts)
Conceptual roadmap for future screencasts based on your implementer's point of view of the needs in our client community (prospects, existing clients, general public)
A set of story-based narrative frameworks [fictional recurring characters with distinct functional roles, e.g. Linda Hamilton, the development director at Large-Do-Good NPO] that correspond to a given target market vertical, e.g. membership based association, call-to-action advocacy group, small starting NPO, large established NPO
Potentially an intro soundtrack (strictly optional), we've identified some royalty and license free music (see here for a sample track: http://goo.gl/XcwGl)
Don't repeat yourself (DRY for marketing)
As a nice-to-have would be an animation or infographic based approach to the following questions that we all have to answer to potential clients, which would greatly help educate our client base ahead of choosing open source over the increasingly consolidated single-vendor (see recent Blackbaud acquisition of Convio) proprietary solutions:
What does it mean to adopt a community supported open source product or daily use? (explain difference in licensing model, hosting requirements, consultant ecosystem, flexibility to adapt and change code base etc.)
How is CiviCRM supported? What are the various levels of support? Where is it hosted?
How can we implement it at our organization? (describe the full spectrum of implementation styles ranging from self-install & self-instructed, assisted implementation with training to "soup-to-nuts" professional deployment by consultants)
We as consultants have to address the above questions reminiscent of scenes from the movie "Groundhog Day"
nearly every time we meet with a prospect. Having prospects and decision makers come prepared to the table would help us speed up the conversion and get to the implementation phase faster. More implementations, more community, more stable future! A compelling example of an animation based videos is this Salesforce.com marketing collateral http://youtu.be/ae_DKNwK_ms
explaining the advantages of software as a service in the cloud.
YouTube Direct a window to user stories and case studies:
We've recently done work with YouTube Direct (http://youtu.be/tgGxi3hiOnY
) that would lets us as a community solicit and curate CiviCRM related video content on a centralized Youtube channel dedicated to all things CiviCRM. In short Youtube Direct let's community members become the reviewers for video submissions that we can then collect into one giant river of videos for user stories, case studies and mini-how-to's. We now have considerable experience in getting YouTube Direct set up and have created a specification to fully integrate YouTube Direct with Drupal 7, i.e. solicit "user story" videos from within Drupal 7, enable upload to YouTube Direct, approval and syncing of video content back to Drupal 7 site for embedding using the media module. Here's an example youtube channel (likely utilizing YouTube Direct) by our friends over at Blackbaud: http://www.youtube.com/user/blackbaudinc
We hope this email inspires you to help in our efforts to get videos explaining the power of CiviCRM to the rest of the community and gives you a sense of what is possible with the upcoming re-branding of civicrm.org and new ways using videos to effectively promote CiviCRM.
Feedback always welcome,
Young-Jin and Kevin from the Emphanos Team