I've been asked this question several times. In this article I'll explore the different options and provide advice on how to make a decision.
Whether it's for onboarding new users, refresher training or ongoing support - creating a library of system training videos is the most effective way to help customers and employees use software and systems.
But creating the videos is only the first challenge - where do you host them once you've created them?
Let's take a look at the different options and discuss the benefits of each. In no particular order...
1) Video platforms
The quickest and cheapest place to host your software videos is a free platform like YouTube or Vimeo.
You're probably very familiar with these platforms - most companies will overlook them because they're not seen as 'business' focused, but there are some things to consider before writing this option off.
The default setting for uploading a video to YouTube is Public - i.e. anyone can search for and find your videos.
However, you can also set the videos to be Unlisted or Private which is an often overlooked.
Unlisted means that the video can be viewed by anyone with the link, but will not show up in searches. The Unlisted option is great if your videos aren't highly confidential, so you can risk someone stumbling across the URL (which is unlikely but possible).
Private means you can invite specific people to view each video. The Private video option is better if you need to guarantee the videos stay private, but that option would be a lot of work for you if you want to make the video available to hundreds of people (you would have to manually share each video with each person).
Another great option with a platform like YouTube is that you can use the Playlists option to create a 'course'.
This is very useful for user onboarding, where you want to guide viewers through videos in a specific order. Technically a Playlist is just a series of videos - each video has a unique URL so can be accessed individually.
But if you want to create a video journey, where viewers watch videos in a specific order (as you can see in the image above) then a Playlist can be a great option.
Check out this video series we built for a SaaS customer.
One of the biggest drawbacks to using a video platform like this is that it might look a little unprofessional. You cannot remove YouTube branding, which means that your viewers know they are on a free, public platform.
And there is always the temptation to navigate to a cute cat video if the systems training gets boring!
2) Custom website
If you have support from a web developer, you can look at hosted solutions like Wordpress or Squarespace. Guide your learners to a single page website, via a unique URL to watch the videos is a very professional way to host video content.
(You can also add a login option which means the videos can only be accessed with a username and password).
The advantage to a custom website like this is a more professional user experience compared with YouTube.
You can brand the page how you want, with logo and colour scheme etc.
There would be an ongoing cost to this option in the form of the domain name and hosting, but you're probably only looking at a few hundred dollars per year.
The other consideration is finding someone to help you manage this website - neither Wordpress or Squarespace are particularly technical, but if you don't have web development skills, this might fall outside of your comfort zone.
If you want a hybrid of 1) and 2) from this list, you can host the videos on YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia and embed videos hosted on those platforms into your own website.
3) Learning Management Systems (LMS)
You may not be familiar with the term 'Learning Management Systems' (LMS) - but if you've ever done a boring compliance elearning course or some form of online training at a company you've worked at, then you've probably used one!
Don't let that put you off - you can't blame the LMS for boring training. An LMS might be the best type of platform for delivering your systems training.
So what is an LMS? Well... they are super-powerful platforms for delivering online training. An LMS allows you deliver videos (and other content) to individual users at scale.
However, there is one key advantage that an LMS has that cannot be found in some of the other options discussed - the LMS tracks behaviour.
Each user must login before they have access to the content - this means the system can recognise who is viewing content.
From an administrator dashboard, you can see exactly who is watching which videos. This can be really useful if you want to analyse and report on how much interaction your audience is having with your videos.
- Need a report showing how many times a specific video has been watched? Done.
- Want to gather some feedback from your audience about how useful the video was? Easy.
- Need a report on how much training Joe Bloggs in the sales team has undertaken? The LMS can do that too.
You can also publish additional content that supports learning - things like software simulations (lets the learners try a procedure using a test system), quiz questions, downloadable PDF documents, checklists etc.
If you are looking for a hybrid of 2) and 3) from this list, there are LMS plugins for Wordpress websites. You can check out Lifter LMS for a popular option.
4) Hosting within the system itself
Now this might sound a little meta, but one final consideration is whether you can host the videos in the actual system you are training.
I.e. if someone is about to click a button within the system, but they're not quite sure of the consequences of such an action - you could embed a video into the platform which plays the relevant video.
Alternatively you could have a Help/Support button that takes them to the video library within the platform.
Either of these options are totally dependent on the system - if you have a custom built system it may be possible, If you are using an Off-The-Shelf system this strategy might not be possible.
Picking a platform on which to host your videos is something you need to consider carefully before embarking on this type of project. Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on which is best for you.
Feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below if you'd like some specific advice on choosing the right option for you.