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I work on a ongoing web application project and my managers would like to have training videos on how to use the application. They want the videos to link off to a separate site so that our customer care people can maintain the videos.

My question here is, should training videos for a web application be linked off to a separate site or should everything stay within the web application? Linking off seems like a bad UI experience to me, but then again I believe most sites link off to youtube or vimeo for training videos. Opinions?

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If an application needs training videos, there might be bigger UX issues than where the video is hosted at. ;) But to answer the specific question: both seem perfectly valid options. –  DA01 Aug 22 '13 at 16:33
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I disagree, complicated products are often supported well by training videos, necessary complexity does not necessarily equal bad UX –  Toni Leigh Sep 28 '13 at 17:28
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Instructional videos can sometimes double as promotional videos if done well (look at what our product can do, see how easy it is to use?). It seems to me the problem is that there is a perceived problem with maintaining the videos within your own application (something management believes can only be done well by a 3rd party) –  cimmanon Sep 28 '13 at 22:52

5 Answers 5

Internal reasons like: "... so that our customer care people can maintain the videos." should never be an excuse for compromised UX, rather it is an indicator the companies content management strategy may need attention.

However with the above description of user journey it is not possible to know whether the external link is a better or worse UX.

My answer is: Take a step back and analyse the overall User Assistance Design. For example if the external site, in addition to the video, also offers

  • Up to minute and relevant FAQ
  • On-line real time assistance
  • Other contact details
  • well curated links to related help topics

Then external site may be a really great piece of user assistance, and hence the right UX. If all the other user assistance structures are in the app then an external video is likely to be out of place.

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I think it depends a bit.

If the help needed is in the context of what one is doing then having videos within the app are helpful.

If the help is sort of overall and help the user understand the core concepts related to products then a video site can be useful. E.g. http://support.apple.com/videos/

The external site should be a company site though and not just link to YouTube etc.

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Whether or not it is a good idea depends on the business goals. If your managers have no problem with users leaving the site (which increases the likelihood they may never come back), I don't see a problem with this. But if it's a commerce site, then it is generally a bad idea to send users elsewhere.

There's a difference between hosting videos on YouTube, and linking (redirecting) to another site.

YouTube can be integrated into your site and played without the user having to leave the site to YouTube. This reduces the cost of storing and streaming the video.

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If the videos are a not frequently visited by users after initially watching them I see no problem having a link to them, or embedding them onto a dedicated help page. I don't think it makes a big user experience difference, and including them in the web application could clutter the web app with infrequently used content.

It also sounds like you already have a really good business reason for doing this:

"They want the videos to link off to a separate site so that our customer care people can maintain the videos."

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I think that with most apps, having the training embedded in the app itself would come across as distracting and a bit unexpected. Perhaps linking to relevant videos within a 'learning center' that is the home for your training videos is the right way to go. That way you can worry about keeping the training content collected and organized in a separate site that a user can deep dive into if they feel the need, still have videos contextually linked within the app, and keep your web app relatively uncluttered.

In the separate site scenario, I'd definitely avoid jumping them out of the app and into training - this is one of those cases where opening a new tab makes a lot of sense.

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