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Do you prefer video or written coding tutorials?

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I've been posting here for a little while, and maintain some tutorials over at my site Up Your A11y, but so far it's all written content.

I'm toying with the idea of creating some YouTube videos that cover similar content, just so people can choose the medium they prefer.

Do people like/prefer video tutorials? What do you find most useful in a video tutorial and what are your pet peeves with them?

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I actually prefer written tutorial as it allows me to learn at my pace rather than at the speed of the video. Learning coding usually involve a lot of back and forth and it is better for me in a written format.
Video can also be good for showing interactivity or results. In which case I like embedded videos.

 

I hadn't considered just embedding short clips - great idea!

 

I prefer written tutorials for the reasons other people have stated. However, if the topic is amusing, interesting or entertaining then I also enjoy it as a video. For example The Coding Train, 3Blue1Brown or something like this video by the Engineer Man. But I usually watch that stuff just out of curiosity or for entertainment, not to so much to purposefully learn something new. That happens more as a side effect

 

That's really interesting - thank you for sharing! And thanks for those references - I'll have a watch 😁

 
 

My preference leans more towards written. I feel as if reading a tutorial helps with keeping at your own pace and allows the reader to do more research and reference. Following along with a video can subconsciously hold you in this weird place (tutorial purgatory) where you're just looking and listening, but not necessarily absorbing.

 

I think I identify with that too - I'm pretty sure I drift away more easily from videos than written word. Some people must find the opposite I'd imagine πŸ€”

 

100%. It's all about preference. I never used to like written articles and I would cringe when I saw lengthy ones, but it was something I learned to love.

 

I prefer written tutorials, largely because I can read faster than I can follow along in real time (or sped up). I don't dislike them, but if I have an option to scan something 'on a page' rather than scrub through time and listen for what it is I may be looking for, I'll take that option.

 

Yeah I think I tend towards the same, and it's interesting to hear I'm not alone in that!

I see so many video tutorials out there and I really want to provide info in the medium people find it useful, which is what made me wonder if I should start doing more videos!

 

With videos I'm often pausing, going back, and zooming-in. I prefer written tutorials. I usually only like videos for opinion pieces or comparisons. I probably watch 1 video for every 25-50 articles I read

 

Both.
Depends of the context. Sometimes I can read fast enough and follow the right flow of the code, but sometimes too I need to watch a video to teach myself and avoid any kind of error that could happened to be.

 

So maybe it could be an idea to have a written tutorial, but with a link to a video you can go to if you decide you'd rather see a walkthrough?

 

Exactly, I like having both options at my disposal. Also, a lot of people prefers consuming a tutorial through a video instead reading.

 

I used to follow video based tutorials but now I prefer written ones. "Tutorial Hell" in the form of videos is really annoying as they're slow and don't cover the advanced concepts (which basically are the main bottlenecks for learning pretty much anything).

Now, I am trying to make a habit of reading official documentations as much as possible (followed by stackoverflow/other coding forums and blogs) in order to understand. The only dev related videos I watch are online webinars like Goto Conferences

On a side note, I feel like documentation is the real underdog of whole software engineering process. A good documentation such as those of VueJS/Laravel/RoR can provide more clarity and save hundreds of hours if not more (if read properly). But it doesn't get appreciated by engineers most of the time, sadly.

 

Documentation is key! I actually just listened to a really good episode of the React Podcast where Rachel Nabors spoke about this - definitely recommend if you haven't heard it yet πŸ˜€

 
 

I like video content and articles. Depends on the topic or my mode of thinking at the time. You're written stuff is great!

If you're going to make some videos, it would be cool (and meta) to explore how video and audio can be more accessible on the web.

 

Ooh yes I like that idea - and I think there is a lot to be said about it!

I think my main driver for considering translating some stuff to video (other than seeing some people seem to engage with video content) is being able to show recordings of screen reader usage/keyboard navigation etc. But there are other ways this could be done like smaller embedded videos πŸ€”

 

I’ve experimented with adding small embedded videos that work quite well (around 10 - 20 seconds).

I think it would be great to show screen reader etc. It’s something that can be communicated over video much more easily and is more engaging like you said. Go for it!

 

Very interested in this subject and surprised to see a lot of people prefer written tutorials. I think written works best if there are step by step instructions (e.g. commands to run), and video if you need to really learn a subject. I am a fan of video and I am very picky about the video format. It must be already zooming to code, explain only one concept at a time, be free of sentences that don’t improve your understanding, clear of words that don’t add meaning (actually, um, really, possibly), not be slow paced,- every second counts, should go in depth. Here is my tutorial where I tried to adhere to these rules (became #2 nodejs video on freeCodecamp) getbuzz.io/c/learning-expressjs

 

Thanks for the link - I'll have a look! I think the general consensus seems to be that, like you say, thought and care needs to go into making videos concise and clear, otherwise they end up just being a frustration! Definitely good to have some examples to look at 😁

 

It's hard for me to say, because I think both are great. If it's something very detailed that I need to follow step by step, then I prefer written tutorials. For more topical tutorials on things I'm just learning about, I prefer video.

I took a look at your site, and really enjoyed the content! I'm going to apply some of the tools I picked up to my own site. There is definitely more room for quality accessibility tutorials.

 

I'm so glad you found some of the content useful!

That's really interesting insight πŸ€” I hadn't considered that maybe some more high-level intro/overview type content might work better as video. Great good for thought - thank you!

 

As a lot of concepts, it depends - I certainly prefer video tutorials as it it most cases include some examples with explanations on-the-go, last resort would be written tutorials/documentations, but they are not great everywhere and a lot of times lack different use cases / examples.

 

I usually prefer video lectures, but it all depends on the instructor style and subject.
Video-based education platforms are better than Youtube, in my subjective opinion, as Youtube ranking algorithm forces creators to squeeze content to "fit" a certain format... which sometimes go against what would be the best education approach for that subject, not adding real knowledge/value.

 

Hmm that's a good point. do you know any free (to users and creators) platforms that are good for these kind of videos?

 

If I can follow the written tutorials, then that, but for things that just don't make any sense to me, I go with the videos to clear them up.

Video tutorials are usually more than just a quick one-off example, so they often allow me to better adapt the thing to what I'm trying to do.

But they also take longer, as I can't just scroll to the most relevant example and kinda poke at it to get it working.

 

Yeah I guess you lose the "skin and scan" that you get with written... Which like you say might not be a bad thing if the content benefits a more detailed look πŸ‘€

 

I’m a visual learner so I love video tutorials. I think my only pet peeve is when videos don’t show real world applications to what they are trying to teach. I want to excited about learning something new and at the possibility of using it!

 

I think it depends on the people, because that person in learning has his own characteristics where there are three characteristics namely Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic. so for me, and my character is kinesthetic and visual

 

Yes that's my thinking totally - I want to make learning about accessibility as easy for people as possible, which would include offering different versions of the same guidance so that more people's learning style is catered for

 

Both, the only thing that i think it ruins a tutorial is showing the code at the very first of the tutorial or while you explain it, the code snippets have to go at the very end of the tutorial, that's the best way to learn, but if i have to choose one i prefer written tutorials because i can go at my own pace.

 

I almost always prefer written, but there are some times where a video makes more sense, I think.

When the thing you're teaching is just a list of easily defined steps, written makes more sense to me. Example: "How to install the latest version of node.js" or "How to proper do error handling in Go"

When the think you're teaching is a process with no defined steps, then a video can make more sense. Example: "How to do Test-Driven Development" or "How to conduct a brainstorming session with your team"

 

Yeah you're right, the less defined the steps (and actually the more debugging someone might need to do as they're following along), the more helpful a video could be.

 

It really depends on the subject... in an ideal world both of course! (like: a video with an article), but otherwise video if I am learning a new approach/framework and article if I am learning something small or if I am hunting for new stuff to learn.

I feel like I have no preferences between video or article, the real deal breaker for me is to have the project included in a link, so that if something is not working I can double check!

 

Im actually loving both formats and use them both.
I'll usually start with a written tutorial and work with it. If I'm hitting a roadblock or want to see how others are doing it I'll then switch over to videos.

Videos in my experience have a more personal touch. The creator is more likely to share some personal story when he's doing a video so this is good way to see another perspective.
Text based tutorials on the other hand are more likely to focus on the task which is nice if that's what you want to focus on.

 

The creator is more likely to share some personal story when he's doing it so this is good way to see another perspective.

I think that's a great point. There's an opportunity with video to add value with more nuanced personal perspective, which wouldn't really work with written tutorials

 
 

This is what I was thinking of doing! Just to give people the choice πŸ˜€

Thanks for sharing those examples!

 

Maybe most of the people in the comment section prefers written tutorials because the video watchers aren't here. :P
I prefer written content too.

 
 

I like content that is to the point. It can be drag scrubbing through a video or wading through text.

 

Good point! I have a feeling that a good, succinct, video tutorial will need quite a lot of careful planning and editing...

 

It depends on the nature of the video but for me, it's not the case and I churn videos out rapidly. I find the sooner you get in front of a camera the sooner you experience the flow of the educational content which leads to faster iteration and then I transcribe my videos into the content.

Many seem to struggle with video, some form of analysis paralysis.

 
 

Written, written, written. No doubt about it. Videos are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too slow (not to mention the audio quality of some videos)

 

video for overview and basic understanding of concepts

written for in-depth and for tutorials to follow

 

For just code I prefer it written. But when it is focused on styling I would enjoy it better in video.

 

Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate video-based training of pretty much any sort. The pace is never right (and that's usually the least-notable problem with video presentations).

 

Definitely seems there's a lot of folks videos just don't work for!

 

Written. Always. Written content is so much easier to skim and digest at your own pace. Don't have time (patience!) for video tutorials.

 
 

I Like both, Video and written. But i think often the learning is faster and better when i watch a Video tutorial.

 

I prefer written coding tutorials but I also love video coding tutorials.

 
 

This is very true. Someone made the point earlier in the thread that maybe a way to improve this is to have a transcript on the same page and clear video time points for each section. So potentially you could just read as normal but skip to the relevant video section if you wanted to see it in practice πŸ€”

 
 

I go for video tutorials divided into small sections with maximum duration of 10mins. This helps me to watch the tutorial first and then practice them part by part.

 

Yeah I think length is key. Ten minutes seems like a good amount of time

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Suzanne Aitchison (she/her) profile image
Software developer based in Edinburgh, with particular experience in React and creating accessible web experiences.
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