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17 January 2012

Display Tutorials ‒ kalmstrom.com Assessment of Third Party Tools

The kalmstrom.com add-ons work inside Outlook, and as they operate in a well known environment they are easy to learn and use. They however require some studies from the administrator side to work at its best, so we want to present our product documentation and tutorials as nicely as possible. For this we utilize a number of third party tools, and here are my experiences with some inexpensive software we find useful on the kalmstrom.com website.



Presenting manuals and slide shows

The kalmstrom.com Office applications are extensively documented, and we make use of  Issuu to present our slideshows and manuals. The slideshow above is also embedded in the HelpDesk OSP slideshow page. HelpDesk OSP icon The Issuu embeddings give the website visitors a chance to take a first look at the document without having to download it. We think many hesitate to download if they are not sure what they will get, but the Issuu preview solves that problem.

I hope the impression of the kalmstrom.com documents is good, even if the Issuu quality is not the very best. Many presentations get a grey shadow in the middle of each page, and sometimes text and images are not quite clear. Nevertheless, I have noticed that quality has improved during the years we have used Issuu, and I assume they are still working on it.

Issuu gives traffic statistics for each file ‒ PPT or PDF ‒ and for our documents they show that most visitors come from the kalmstrom.com website. Only a few percent come from within Issuu, so I don't believe much in Issuu as a marketing channel. For showing our manuals and slideshows, and also for quickly looking something up directly online, it is however a useful tool.

Showing video demonstrations
Calendar Browser icon Demos are an important part of the kalmstrom.com documentation, and we use two different platforms to display them. One is YouTube, which is good for marketing. The kalmstrom.com video channel on You Tube displays a selection of videos. They are of two kinds, presentations and tutorials. The presentations of our products are embedded on the product homepages, see for example the Calendar Browser homepage. The tutorials do not directly involve our products but belong to the kalmstrom.com Tips section.   
TimeCard icon
We also use the Screencast.com media rolls for the kalmstrom.com product tutorials. As you can see on the TimeCard Workgroup demo page they give better control and customization possibilities, and therefore we get a nicer demo presentation that fits better into our website.kalmstrom.com MediaRoll

Sadly we have not been entirely happy with Screencast.com. Once they downgraded our service level by mistake, and on another occasion they destroyed all our video thumbnails. Even though they acknowledged that it was their fault, it took several weeks of nagging until they had put the thumbnails back again – and then only with the default ones. We did not get all our custom thumbnails back.

In spite of these troubles we will continue using Screencast.com, but we will of course remember them if we get more problems. Just like with Issuu the Screencast.com statistics show that most viewers of our demos come via the kalmstrom.com website.

The kalmstrom.com team uses more valuable third party applications, and in a later blog I will assess our tools for support and sales contacts.