A software product tutorial essentially helps users work with the features of the product. So it is mandatory that tutorials have concise and precise tasks and steps to work with the product. Most importantly software product tutorials must be help users achieve something by using the product.
Things you must do before you begin
· Explore the product and its features thoroughly
· Try working with the product features yourself
When you must start writing product tutorials
· When you know everything that you need to know about the product
· When you understand and know the product and why users must use the product
· When you are very sure of the features, the tasks that you can do with the features and the steps
for each of the tasks
Quick Tips to Create Software Product Tutorials
Create end to end software product tutorials.For example here is a tutorial that teaches you to create realistic water reflection using Photoshop. As you can see this tutorial helps you achieve something using Photoshop and that is why this tutorial is an end to end tutorial.
Always start with a brief description about the feature and add details such as why users must use the feature. For example in this tutorial on MS Word, there is a short audio text which mentions how the track changes feature is useful when you revise and make changes to a document and when that document has to be used by many others.
List what you are going to cover in the tutorial at the outset. This must cover all the tasks that one can do with the product feature. For example in this tutorial on MS Word, all the tasks that one can do using the Track Changes feature have been listed as learning objectives in the first page.
Disclose the end result of the tutorial. For example in this tutorial that helps you create your first PowerPoint presentation, it will be a good idea to show a complete presentation at the outset and guide the learners to create that specific presentation. This way the users would find the tutorial object oriented.
A good example is this photoshop tutorial which shows you in the begninning the photo effect you can create following the steps in the tutorial.
So the user is very clear about what he/she is going to achieve by taking the tutorial.
List the tasks in a logical order. The sequence of tasks must lead users to the end result. For example the logical order of some of the the tasks to create a PowerPoint presentation are:
Create a New Slide
Change the Layout of the Slide
Insert Slide Notes
Here the order of the tasks are very important.
Write precise instructions. For example Click on the word and choose Copy from the context menu is not a precise instruction. What the writer meant was Select the word, right-click and choose Copy from the context menu.
Make sure you write the button or tab names exactly the way it appears in the product. I have spent hours searching for buttons and tabs suggested by tutorials and which I could not find in the product.
Make sure you write the steps for each task logically and correctly. For example to the steps to create a new presentation in PowerPoint are:
Select File -> New from the Main Menu.
In the New Presentation Task Pane , choose Blank Presentation.
After you write the tutorial, follow the instructions you have written and execute the tutorial. This will help you identify the errors.