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The vSphere Web Client video project: a case study in coordinated content strategy
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The vSphere Web Client video project: a case study in coordinated content strategy


This Lavacon 2013 presentation describes how the VMware Technical Communications team lead a cross-functional effort to produce video to address an important business need: helping users adapt to the …

This Lavacon 2013 presentation describes how the VMware Technical Communications team lead a cross-functional effort to produce video to address an important business need: helping users adapt to the new management interface for vSphere.

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  • <number>
  • For the vSphere 5.1 release, the primary user interface switched from this…
  • …to this
  • If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a 3.5 minute video at 30 frames per second is worth approximately 6,300,000 words.
  • Support: video supports the knowledge base system. Primarily troubleshooting oriented.
    Technical Marketing; Product demo videos
    Tech Pubs: Instructional video that complements our written documentation and explains concepts and tasks
  • <number>
  • Style conventions of print don't always translate well to video. Video is a bit more informal – the script should sound natural when spoken.
    Examples of writers' strengths:
    - Visual representation of information.
    - Natural-sounding dialogue.
    - Eye for structure and tightness of information.
  • There’s where the talking head stands, in front of a green screen.
  • Camera with teleprompter, being operated by videographer Chuck Potter.
  • Direct link from the product user interface.
  • Videos are hosted by Brightcove, which allows building customized players.
    This player has 6 tabs: Getting Started, Common Tasks, Hosts, Networking, Storage, and Virtual Machines.
  • Works for customers whose access to Youtube is blocked.
  • vSphere 5.5 shipped in early September 2013.
  • <number>


  • 1. The vSphere Web Client Video Project: A Case Study in Coordinated Content Strategy Wendy Shaffer Confidential @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon © 2010 VMware Inc. All rights reserved
  • 2. About the Speaker • Staff Technical Writer at VMware • Coordinated initial phase of video project • Video “catalyst” @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 3. What is the vSphere Web Client and why do we need videos about it? @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 4. vSphere • VMware vSphere® offers the world’s leading virtualization platform for building cloud infrastructures. • 350,000 customers worldwide, including 100% of the Fortune 500 @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 5. 89% of all virtualized applications in the world run on VMware. Gartner, December 2008 @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 6. The “old” vSphere Client @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 7. The new vSphere Web Client @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 8. Comparing the Clients vSphere Client • Windows-only installed application • Tree-based navigation • Familiar to users through many years of vSphere releases vSphere Web Client • Cross-platform Web application • Graph-based navigation • Numerous interface changes and improvements for users to get accustomed to @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 9. • Management at VMware identified video as a key part of the strategy for helping users make the transition to the new client. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 10. Why Video? • Video is visual. • Video is ideal for short attention spans or consuming information in small chunks. • Video still has novelty value for some customers. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 11. Who makes these videos? @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 12. Who should make these videos? • A number of groups at VMware make user-facing video: – Support – Technical Marketing – Technical Communications @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 13. • Management asked the Technical Communications team to create video to: – Help users get accustomed to the new interface. – Teach users how to perform their most critical tasks in the new interface. – Highlight new features only available in the new interface @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 14. Video Content – It Takes a Village @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 15. A Global Village @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 16. How do we decide what to make videos about? @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 17. Generating Ideas • Gathered ideas from developers, product managers, quality engineers, and user experience experts. • Tech writers observed customers during onsite betas. • Tech writers participated in internal social media discussions of the new interface. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 18. • Narrowed down to a list of 26 videos to be scripted and produced by Tech Comms. • Some additional topics were handed off to Technical Marketing or Support to handle in the videos they produce. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 19. How do we develop the script and the storyboard? @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 20. Storyboarding • Encourages visual thinking. • The storyboard provides a way to specify the relationship between voiceover and visuals in the video. • Writers produce storyboards in PowerPoint, using a combination of text, screenshots, and animation. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 21. V/O: Click an object to display information about that object in the center pane. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon Screencapture: Show clicking an individual host and displaying the summary screen.
  • 22. Pitch Meeting Writers present storyboards to other writers, as well as representatives from tech marketing, support, user experience @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 23. The Pitch Meeting • Allows refinement of script before shooting • Allows the development of a common voice and set of stylistic conventions. • Allows writers to leverage each others’ strengths. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 24. Review • Ensure technical accuracy of the script. • Proofread on-screen text to ensure correct grammar and spelling. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 25. How do we do filming and production? @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 26. The “Talking Head” • Puts a human face on the product. • Using actual VMware employees instead of actors or voiceover artists increases credibility. • Increases viewer engagement. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 27. Examples of “Talking Heads” @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 28. Filming and Video Production • “Talking Head” is filmed reading script from teleprompter. • Writer captures video of the product UI using Camtasia. • Writers work with videographer to create still graphics and animations. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 29. The Studio @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 30. The Studio @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 31. Review Round 2 • All stakeholders review the finished video and suggest changes or edits. • Final video must be approved by PM, writer, and writer’s manager before release. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 32. How do we get these videos out where customers can see them? @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 33. Video Distribution • Link from client home screen to videos on vmware.com • TechPubs Youtube Channel • Social media • At VMworld trade show @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 34. Videos on vmware.com @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 35. Videos on vmware.com @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 36. Video on vmware.com • Hosted by Brightcove • Contains vSphere Web Client videos only • More than 50,000 views in the first 7 weeks. • Videos can be updated while maintaining a stable URL for the video player @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 37. Vmware TechPubs on Youtube • http://www.youtube.com/user/VMwareTechPub • Has all tech pubs video content • Youtube makes it easy to link and share individual videos • Can’t update an individual video without changing the URL. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 38. Vmware TechPubs on Youtube • 5,534 subscribers as of 10/18 • 173,726 total video views @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 39. Social Media • VMware Support Insider Blog: http://blogs.vmware.com/kb/ • VMware vSphere twitter account • VMware Google+ community @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 40. VMworld • 21,000 attendees at VMworld 2012 • 4 videos were selected to run in a loop in the demo booth during times when no live demo was scheduled. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 41. Carrying the video project forward • Continue to produce videos between major product releases. • Carry on another coordinated effort to create video for the vSphere 5.5 release. • 15 videos published for this release; 12 more to follow in next 2 months. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 42. Lessons Learned • Management support is critical. • Not waiting for management buy in before you lay the groundwork is also critical. • Think visually. • Small, focused projects can be great for building collaborative relationships. • Video can be a great way to demonstrate what we do. @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 43. It was excellent working from start to finish with our script writers, director and producer on the videos. The key was having content that is relevant to our users presented in short, punchy videos. Peter Shepherd, Senior Staff Engineer, VMware @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 44. Credits @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 45. Videographer Chuck Potter @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 46. Writers • • • • • • • • Dobrinka Boeva Amy Bowman Gary Gray JoAnne Grey Diane Huffman Doreen Kasson Renate Kempf Iliana Kostova • • • • • • Michael Martin Wendy Shaffer Colleen Taggart Ralitsa Tsoneva Yordan Ugrinov Svetlana Voskoboinikova • @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon
  • 47. References • Why Choose Vmware for Server Virtualization? https://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vmwar e_advantage.pdf @wshaffer74 #Lavacon @LavaCon