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Peter Ring Consultants

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Multimedia manuals

Multimedia manuals are used when
  • You want fast learning of for example basic skills or very complex processes.
  • The users have reading problems (15-20% of the adult population can't even read a tabloid newspaper).

Video and screencam multimedia manuals

Most multimedia manuals are videos or computer formatted videos (e.g. .AVI or .JPEG files) with speech as a supplement to a written manual.

The advantages are
  • It is an easy and fast way for the user to learn the (simple) use of the product.
  • Can also be used for (functional) illiterate people.
The disadvantages are
  • Relatively costly tool to make and maintain. (That's another reason for sticking to the basic functions of the product.)
  • The user nees to have a video-player or PC at the product  (normally no problem with software).
  • Requires 1,5-10 MB/minute (mainly a problem with downloads).
Example: The demo-programme AlarmClock, which can be downloaded (zip-file 3.7 MB) from The programme has a "normal" on-line manual and a 2-minute screencam-type of video instruction in English and Danish, which teaches the user the main functions. Try to compare the contents and user-friendliness of the written on-line manual and the video, which uses 2.8 MB on the harddisk.

Interactive multimedia manuals

Interactive multimedia manuals are a new and interesting possibility for making a very efficient tutorial for a new product.

In stead of reading about how to use the product, the user is learning by playing, controlled by on-screen texts and speech. The user is instructed by the speech, and the text makes it possible to go back and read what was said. The training can be made

  • on a model of the product created on the user's PC. 
  • by means of a for example Microsoft PowerPoint presentation with short videos.
  • live on the real product.
The software is typically
  • Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • A small dedicated program (.exe file) written in for example Microsoft Visual Basic 6 Pro.
PRC can
  • assist you with avoiding a lot of costly pitfalls.
  • create your first multimedia maual to get you started. Thereafter it is up to your, if you want to make your futur multimedia manuals yourself, or if you will continue to use PRC.
  • advice you about how to produce and/or use interactive multimedia manuals.