Illustrated character sitting on a laptop computer

When it comes to software training, many people’s minds go straight to video tutorials. And while video tutorials can be good for picking up the basics, when it comes to learning more complex skills, software simulations like this one are often a better option because they allow learners to literally get in there and practice using the software without impacting the actual production environment or real-life data.

But how do you make an effective, professional-looking software simulation? Keep reading to find out.

1. Choose the Right Recording Size

If you want your screen recording to take up the same space as your other slides and remain nice and crisp even when your course scales to fill the browser, set your recording area to be exactly twice the size of your story slide. For example, if your slides are 720 x 540 pixels, set your recording size to 1440 x 1080. To adjust the size of your recording area, drag the sizing handles on the dashed outline or use the drop-down list on the control bar to choose preset dimensions.

Not sure what your slide dimensions are? Click on the Design tab and click on Slide Size to find out:

Slide size window

2. Use Interactivity Wisely

Storyline 360 offers a variety of ways you can turn a tutorial video into an interactive learning experience. The easiest way to do this is by choosing either the Try or the Test Mode option after you record your screen: 

Try and test mode options

But what about when you just need to add interactivity at a few points? A lesser-known trick for those situations is to insert your slides in View mode and add interactivity using Hotspots.

View mode option

That way you can add interactivity only when it makes sense.

3. Add Contextual Information

Contextual information helps learners make sense of what they’re learning. It gives them insight into why and when they might need to use the skills they’re learning. While the Storyline 360 recorder will automatically capture the names of the buttons you click on and add them to the captions, only you can add that extra contextual information that helps your learner understand the “why” behind it all.

What type of information should you add? Here are some examples:

  • An introduction slide or 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. 
  • Explanations throughout the simulation that help learners understand why and when they’ll use each feature you’re pointing out. However, be sure to keep this information short and to the point. You don’t want to end up with huge captions filled with long paragraphs or bullet lists of text.
  • A summary slide or caption letting learners know the process is complete and summarizes what they’ve done. 
  • Instructions on how to move forward. You don’t want your learners feeling confused and unsure about how to continue to the next part of your course.

4. Make Your Captions Stand Out

The color of captions matters. Choose something that stands out from the background but doesn’t clash, so it’s both easy to pick out and cohesive with your design.

Take a look at the two examples below:

Low Contrast

High Contrast

Light grey caption Blue caption


Do you see how much easier it is to see the blue caption on the right-hand side than it is to see the gray one on the left? That’s because it contrasts with the background of the slides and the app’s interface. And because it doesn’t match but coordinates with the color of the buttons, it makes the captions look like they belong while ensuring they’re easy to spot.

In Storyline 360, it’s super easy to update the color of all of your captions at once by updating your Theme Colors.

5. Hide the Clutter

If you’re recording a web app, it’s best to hide things like your bookmark bar and your browser extensions before you record so they don’t clutter up the screen. But if you forget—don’t worry! You don’t necessarily need to rerecord. Often, you can simply place a solid color rectangle over whatever it is you want to hide, like in the before and after screenshots below:



Browser extensions showing Browser extensions hidden


Simply use the eyedropper to grab the background color so it matches perfectly, and no one will be the wiser:

Eyedropper tool

You can also use this trick to hide private information, pop-ups, or anything else that appears that you don’t want learners to see. That way your simulation looks polished and your learners can focus on the important stuff.


And there you have it, folx! If you follow these five tips you’ll be well on your way to creating effective, interactive software simulations for your learners.

Looking for more tips on creating software training? Check out the helpful articles in this series: Everything You Need to Know About Creating Software Simulations with Storyline.

Want to try creating your own software simulation in Storyline 360, but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

Matthew Kennedy
Nicole Legault

Hi Rachna! This is from the article above: 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. So please make sure... Expand