Let's talk Job Aids

Ah, job aids. I have a love hate relationship with them.

On the one hand, they allow my learners to download a reference guide that they can use while they perform tasks on the job. At my company, people print these things out and put them in a reference binder. They hang them on their cube walls. In short, job aids go hand in hand with eLearning here.

So here's the tricky part. We've got a huge implementation coming up and are expecting to need to create up to 100 of these things. Our current format is quite intricate- we use PowerPoint to make them (see screenshot).

My question is this: Does anyone out there have a reliable and (hopefully faster) way to create decent looking job aids? Preferrably, something using the screens that storyline is already capturing as a part of the recording would be great.  How do you create job aids at your company?

15 Replies
Heidi Payne

Wow,a topic near and dear to my heart.

Those are intricate, Ethan. Would you mind answering a few questions, though?

  1. Do you capture your  screen shots from within PowerPoint oranother program?
  2. Is the entire document created in PowerPoint or do you also use Word?
  3. WhichArticulate program(s) do you use?
  4. How much time do you spend to create a job aid (on average)?
  5. What is the average experience level of your users?
  6. Are the green-text items hyperlinks?

 We have several ways of doing our job aids. Some are quick video tutorials and others are pdf documents to print and email to customers. What we create depends on the user information and tools we have (hence the previous questions). 

H~

Ethan Waldman

Hi Heidi,


Thanks for the reply! 

  1. We typically capture screenshots using Techsmith Snagit, because it's so quick when it comes to cropping!
  2. The entire document is created in PowerPoint
  3. I've switched exclusively to StoryLine now, but still have the Presenter suite.
  4. It really depends how intricate the task is and if I need to work with an SME or not. But, I'd say about 2 hours per jobaid
  5. We assume a low experience level with the software/environment unless the project specifies otherwise. Usually low.
  6. The green text items are not hyperlinks.
At our company, we assume a job aid is something pdf-based that can be printed or read onscreen. If it's a video, we'd call that an eLearning or a screencast.  We're trying to come up with a common template AND process for producing job aids more quickly. As you can see, we have a template that is repeatable, but is not fast. 
Bob S

My guess would be the green items are jsut fields/box titles within the program being taught, not live links.

If that's the case, I might offer the following ideas...

  1. Try SnagIt for your captures and use just the screens you really need and the built in call-out feature to add detail
  2. Consider the InfoMapping method of step-action tables

To be clear... your versions look great. Really nice. But I can imagine that being all free-form as they are it would be quite an undertaking to create 100 of them. Hopefully the two suggestions above will allow you create something workable (perhaps not as pretty) in much shorter time.

Bob

EDIT: Crossed post!  I see you are using SnagIT, cool. Maybe limit the grabs to just the detail items that can't be easily explained in text.

April Edmonds

Not sure about what your custom software is being built in. But you might consider creating some "help" files that are generated from the code.

Here is information if your programmers are using something like Visual Studio to build the software:

 http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ms670169(v=vs.85).aspx

Heidi Payne

Your answers help a lot, Ethan.  I like Bob and April's suggestions as well. We also have help screens we've developed in RoboHelp that work well, but I guess it comes down to the tools you have and experience level of the person creating the job aids.  

It sounds like you do need a lot of detail based on your user('s) levels. I asked about the green text because we only change the color text on hyperlinks. We bold items when they refer to a step or concept.

Since you're using SL, why not grab your screen shots and add markers? It also allows you to crop and edit screens. Then publish it to Word. That way you can still use a template, but it's easier to write and edit the instructions.

I've attached an example based on your screen, if it helps. (You don't necessarily need the check-box bullets. It's just something we've done to help some users keep track of what they've done.) I know this is just a small piece of your bigger job aid, but it only took ~10 minutes and most of that was typing instructions.

What do you think? Does that speed up the process and still give you what you need?

@Bob, could you describe the InfoMapping technique? I'm not familiar with it.

H~

Ethan Waldman

@Bob Thanks, yeah. Snagit is crucial for being able to quickly grab the screens. I second Heidi's request to describe the infomapping in more detail!

@April Most of it is PeopleSoft (Oracle), some home grown apps for peoplesoft as well as other plugins, Sharepoint Sites, etc.  I don't think anyone on our learning team has the knowhow to do Visual Studio stuff, but I'll look into it. Thanks!

@Heidi I'm not sure what you mean about Markers in Storyline. So to be clear- you've just added the built in makers in Storyline and then published to word? That could definitely help speed some things up and reduce the need for cropping.  I think the less steps we have to do between recording the screen capture and outputting the job aid, the better!

Heidi Payne

Right, Ethan. Here's a quick screenr on my process if it helps. It definitely takes longer to write the text than create the job aid. ;0) I do like this process, though, because it also serves as my tutorial/video script or storyboard.

Let us know how the project goes!

Quick way to create job aids using SL & Word.

Sue McKibben

We try to create one-page (double-sided) job aids.  All of our job aids are created in Microsoft Word, which makes editing very fast and simple.  We have found the screenshot capture tool in Office 2010 works great.  We also use PicPick for screen captures (and I love the Color Picker tool).  Here is a sample of one of our job aids:

Requisition Approver Job Aid

Bob S

Ethan and Heidi,

Infomapping is a technique and format for writing business docs. Especially useful for things like procedures. Not sure who first fomalized the method, but there is a company of the same name selling software (Word plug-in) that has macros to create the format(s). 

In any case... the folks at Infomapping are huge fans of Step Action charts and use nested tables within tables to create them fast fast. And of course you can drop a small screen shot into the table where needed as well.

Bob

Heidi Payne

@Ethan - Glad to help. StoryLine has streamlined a lot of my processes for that very reason!

@Sue - Nice format. How long does it take you to produce a document like that?

@Bob - Thanks for the explanation. I wondered why it sounded so familiar. I used this concept at a communications firm where I started my career. Glad to know it's still a solid technique since I use it daily.