Use Storyline to Turn a Boring Process Video Into an Interactive Software Simulation

Does your organization use any systems or web applications to get business done? Do you ever need to build training for those systems? If the answer is yes, you should get familiar with the screen recording tool in Articulate Storyline; it’s your ticket to creating snazzy software simulations. These simulations are a great way to get your learners inside the software, practicing and learning the proper click-path without impacting the actual production environment or real-life data.

Let me share with you some tips and tricks I used to convert this boring, noninteractive process video:


… into this informative and dynamic software simulation:

Appropriate Recording Size

If I want my screen recording to fit just right on my Storyline slide, I need to set my recording area to be the same dimensions as my Storyline slide. (Psst: You can update the story size by going to the design tab of the Storyline ribbon and clicking the Story Size button.) But here’s a pro trick: if you set the player to fill the browser window (as I do in the example here) and you want your screen recording to remain nice and crisp, set your recording area to be at least 2x the side of your story slide. So, for example, if my story slide is 720 x 540, I set my recording size to at least 1440 x 1040. This way, I can enlarge my course without having the recording become fuzzy or pixelated.

Highly Interactive Content

Notice how much more interesting it was to actually click through the process yourself in the after version, as opposed to just watching a video of the process being done in the before version. People love to feel like they are in control of what’s happening on the screen. Luckily, Storyline offers a variety of ways you can turn a passive video into an interactive learning experience. When you convert a video recording into step-by-step slides, you have the option of inserting them as either View Mode, Try Mode, or Test Mode steps.

In addition to having these three modes, did you know you can customize any of the modes to make your slides more or less interactive, depending on your project requirements? In my after example, I started out with View Mode slides, but I manually updated the slides to add more interactivity and information where I felt it was required, so I turned the passive View Mode slides into something more engaging for my learners.

Contextual Information

Contextual information helps learners make sense of the process they’re learning, why they need to do it, and what the bigger picture is. While the Storyline recorder will automatically capture most of the text for instruction and hint captions, only you can add that extra, contextual information that enhances the meaning for your learner.

What type of information should you add? Include an introduction caption that explains the process they are about to learn (like this example does) and provides the real-life trigger or context for when this process would need to be completed on the job. This example also has a summary caption that lets learners know the process is complete and summarizes what they’ve done. I’ve also added explanations throughout, where it’s valuable for the learner. Keep in mind: differentiate between need-to-know and nice-to-know content, and then limit yourself to only the need-to-know. You don’t want to end up with huge captions filled with long paragraphs or bullet lists of text.

Clear and Concise Captions

The color and size of captions matters. Choose a color that will stand out against the background of the application or website you’re showing. In my example, the default caption color was blue when I inserted my step-by-step slides. But I decided against keeping the blue because it did not stand out enough against my application (it blended in with the blue used in the software).

I decided to update my captions (both color and font style) to the dark gray you see in the after example. You’ll be happy to know you can easily update all of your captions at once by going to the design tab of the Storyline ribbon and navigating to the “Colors” and “Fonts” section, under Themes.

On top of making sure the caption color stands out against the application, you should also make sure the font is clear and easy to read and uses consistent verbiage and terminology. One more tip: when you place your captions on the slide, make sure they don’t hide or obscure any important on-screen information!

On-Screen Objects and Pop-Ups

Note the images below. The before image, from the original video, shows all of my recent projects displayed in the blue left-hand column of the launch screen. In the after image, on the right, you’ll notice you can no longer see my projects.


How did I hide them? I simply overlaid a blue rectangle (I used the Color Picker tool to match the blue perfectly) on top of my projects to hide them. This way, the learners can’t see the projects I’ve been working on. You can often use this trick to hide private information, pop-ups, or anything else that appears that you don’t want learners to see. It also helps to tidy up the screen and make it look more like what a learner will actually see the first time they launch the application. Lots of good reasons to clean up your screen!

And there you have it, folks! These are just a few of my easy-to-follow tips for making sure your next Storyline recording comes out looking polished and professional. Do you have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments below!

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate software? Download a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

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