One month ago I asked you, Dear Reader, to participate in a survey about Screencasts in order to help me, and indirectly Microsoft, improve our screencast techniques. I got 1000 responses in just a few hours and I thank you for it!
You also wrote a lot in the free form comments field with 319 of the 1000 responses including typed feedback. These comments were read by not only myself, but (surprisingly) my boss and ScottGu, so that's cool. It's also cool that 1/3 of you felt compelled to offer more feedback. Thanks!
Here's the feedback we received.
It's hard to see the patterns, of course, as it's tabular data, but here's how I interpret it and a few other ways to think about the results.
UPDATE: Here's a much better visualization above from Dylan Beattie. Thanks Dylan!
UPDATE: Here's another visualization from Brian Boatright. Thanks Brian!
First, if someone says Agree or Strongly Agree, let's call that AGREE.
Ah, now this is more useful. Looks like folks really agree on these points.
Which is expected. Screencasts should sound good, only show you what you need to see, and some amount of pan/zoom (which is arguably an extension of the "minimal visual clutter" rule) is useful.
Now these are more on the fence, but I did include 1000 results so I consider them fairly valid.
Seems that two much of a good thing (i.e. my (or anyone's) fat head) is distracting. This was confirmed in the comments. Basically, if you're showing something within the interface, or if you're just typing, don't show your head/PIP.
As for the mouse clicks issue, this is a tough one. I think I'll keep the effect, but I'll speed it up and make it smaller, so that we can find a "best of both worlds" option to please the most people.
These were interesting to me. Basically half of folks think that PIP is interesting, but it's clear that it's not necessary. According to the comments those that like PIP feel it "helps one engage with the presenter" and "keeps my attention." Others said "it seemed like you were talking to me" and "I'd be more likely to watch a screencast all the way through if it had PIP at some points."
I was surprised that 46% of people wanted to watch on their portable device. Depending on your point of view this may seem like a small number or a large one. However, it's a significant number of people, in my opinion, if over 460 folks out of 1000 would like to watch a technical screencast on their portable device. This requires less effort on the part of the publisher than you'd think. I'll post about this issue later and what you can do as a creator of screencasts to make them usable on Zunes and iPods and other PMPs.
Finally, 1/5 of folks feel that screencasts (perhaps they are screencast purists?) should include only audio and the full screeen.
Also, as with most surveys, this one was arguably biased towards a specific point of view, namely, mine. One could say it was poorly written and two people did in fact say just that. However, I'm not hiding the fact that I believe judicious and reasonable use of these small techniques can make for a better screencast, but I'll be more careful with future surveys to include both sides of the perspective.
As with my blog, it was with this survey. The interesting content is in the comments. There were 319 comments, but here's a slice:
Also, I received this one: "there... i filled out your survey... motherf******! ( lets see how anonymous this really is) :)" Note that I've alerted your mom and your boss about your naughty language, Mr. Anonymous. ;)
And finally, "No beards! Beards are distracting!" Hm. I don't think you want to see me without a beard, I look 12. Seriously. More importantly, what are we going to do about this guy?
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.