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I think that the time when the Internet will be wireless and available everywhere,
no matter the geographical position, isn’t too far and it will be fabulous for the entire population. Even the history of Internet is only three decades old, yet its contribution for the humanity is doubtless.
The self-taught designers and developers represent a very good example of how useful the Internet is and how strongly it influenced our life. They are individuals that learnt to code and design websites using the Internet. Tutorials are an article where a specialist explains how he created a project…it is how a teacher explains to his students but in this case the teacher is “offline”. In conclusion, the more tutorials are published (of course, these must be professionally written) the better it is for worldwide designers.
I followed tons of tutorials and I am grateful to their creators because I learnt from them the basis of good design but, unfortunately, many of them weren’t well written or explained. It’s extremely frustrating to follow the explanations and after few steps to determine that the tutorial is missing a step or some explanations are not correct.
On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to satisfy everybody. Some are real amateurs while others are better; some learn fast, others need more explanations. Honestly, I think that making a tutorial, a good one, is mostly an art that is not accessible to everyone.
In order to help the designers willing to publish tutorials, I present here some conclusions based on my experience in addition to the opinion of other people that use tutorials very often.
It isn’t necessarily a mistake of the tutorial authors but it is too common and it forced me to mention this here: the readers may be grouped into classes: some are rookies, others middle-class and others experts. Well, any tutorial must be defined from the beginning- it is for experts, for amateurs or for anyone in between. It may happen that a beginner will fall in love with the final result of a tutorial and start making something similar by following the steps of it…surely some details won’t be understood by him and the result will be a waste of time and hot tempers. By having from the start stipulated that it quite probable requires some acknowledge, he will search for something suitable for his skills.
Briefly, a tutorial must be suitable to the skills of the public target else it won’t be useful and it is both sides disadvantageous: the creator doesn’t receive the traffic expected and the visitors are disappointed.
Written text vs. video
The tutorials are in written format, having inserted images or video, where the creator shows exactly how he works. Which one is the best solution…? It depends on the type of the tutorials…If the project may be realized using clear steps, a written format is preferred. A long project, i.e, a portrait retouching, where it is difficult to explain the details is mostly recommended to use the video format. The web designers that create tutorials seem to appreciate more the written format, so if you want to create one, take this into consideration.
The small details make the big difference
It is quite probable the most important aspect. It’s difficult to anticipate, from the posture of the author, which parts of a tutorial are the most difficult for the readers. The bad fact is that sometimes the author neglects what is most difficult or the trickiest aspects aren’t in depth explained. Few small details will make the big difference between a good and a decent design and it’s normal for the same recipe to be valid when it’s about tutorials.
Write it using a step-by step format
A tutorial, a good one, can’t be explained in just few lines. Usually it is required a long article in which you should have all the aspects explained in detail. On the other hand, an individual interested in following a tutorial may become bored by it or simply doesn’t have enough time to finish it.
A baffling structure surely won’t be useful in this case, so a wise tutorial creator will write it by having this idea in mind. In conclusion, if you are interested in creating a tutorial, it is highly recommended to write it using steps, a modular format and not a text that is difficult to read and come back.
A systematic format is perfect: the follower may check if he applied correctly the previous tips, may stop and come back very easily and the entire activity surely will surely turn into a funny one.
Offer as many as necessary screen-shoots
Having as many screen shots of the project in various stages as needed is capital for someone that wants to learn the techniques presented. The great advantage is that in this way, the user has full feedback over his creation.
Avoid too long explanations
Here is another trick that can’t be learnt and it is dependent on the experience of the creator. A very detailed tutorial drives the user crazy. He will surely lose his patience, while missing some aspects will make him confused which isn’t quite beneficial. Hence, it is better for the tutorial creator to study the online presence where his work will be posted and get an idea about the public target.
Give to the readers the possibility of studying your .psd files
It’s true that by offering your .psd files for free, you may expose some of your professional secrets, but having the exact files of the final result is capital for the users. Definitely, by offering them the possibility of working with your files will help them very much.
What do you think, are these tips useful in writing a tutorial? Is it enough to be a good designer in order to write a good tutorial? Please let me know your opinion about these interesting issues, by using the comment form. It is for you!