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Pointers on creating a nice tutorial

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#1 Faken


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Posted 05 July 2004 - 11:20 AM

As we near 6000 tutorials in our index, and each one individually verified before going live in the index, I think it's safe to say that I can tell the difference between a great tutorial, and something that's not so hot. I'm not accusing anyone of anything here, but some submissions seem to be for the sake of getting traffic to their site without much effort. Now that's fine and dandy and submitting your tutorials to an index like P2L is a great way to attract visitors to the rest of your site, but you should at least put in some effort to your content. Let's not forget that the hundreds of people that view your tutorial are hoping to learn something.

With that in mind, here's a few pointers that I think make the difference between an average tut and something that will earn a 5 point rating.

1. Double-check the steps you took in achieving the end result of the tutorial. It's very important that you haven't missed any steps along the way leaving the user scratching his head. It's frustrating and chances are the user won't be looking on your site for more tutorials.

2. Illustrate your steps! You should number each step and show your work as you progress. If you apply an effect in step 2, you should have an image of what that effect should look like. This helps establish reference points throughout your tutorial so a user can pinpoint an error if their result isn't matching up. If all you do is post the end result and the user's version looks nothing like yours, they won't have a clue where they went wrong.

3. Avoid "Click here to see my result". I could be wrong, but in my experience, it's easier to have the images and instructions all on one page. I'm not very fond of having to click on a link to see the image, then have to click back or close the new window to get back to the instructions.

4. Check your spelling and grammer and make sure everything makes sense. A tutorial riddled with spelling mistakes and sentences that don't make much sense if confusing and a poor reflection on the rest of your site.

5. Outline your steps precisely. Sometimes it's tough for new users to know what you're talking about when you jump a step that you assume they know about. I've seen tutorials where the author says to "Now run the "insert effect" filter and you should now have this:" and I have no clue how they ran that filter. It's all downhill from there. You almost need a tutorial to figure out the tutorial :)

6. Be sure to provide the software version and description. Sometimes version 5 or an application doesn't do the same thing as version 4. Your tutorial should have the software used, version number, and a description telling what exactly the tutorial is for.

Following these pointers will definitely increase your tutorial creation time if you're currently not following these methods, but you'll create quality tutorials that are easier to follow and appreciated by the visitors that much more. Plus, you're increasing your chances of them snooping around your site for even more wonderful content.

Hope these tips help, and as always, feel free to add your comments :)

All the best!


#2 _*sdesign_*

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 01:14 AM

Great article, I must admit I will need to go through some of my earlier tutorials and fix some of the above annoyances.

Thanks again for the great article.

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