In our line of business, one of the things that used to present a problem was the simple (in theory) task of either explaining to a user how a piece of functionality works/ ought to be used, or the flipside case of having a user explain what they did *exactly*.
It’s obviously not the biggest problem in the world, but it’s been inconvenient enough to cause headache on both sides of the service industry, often requiring lengthy phone calls (in the days before GotoMeeting and other similar tools), screen capture utils (SnagIt anyone?) or even in-person visits to make sure everyone was on the same page.
Thankfully this particular problem has been long solved: tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, GotoMeeting, Join.me and others make it cheap and easy to do live meetings remotely, to share screens, and to even toss control back and forth between participants.
There is however, a potentially simpler option than many people may not have heard about. It’s an option that doesn’t require installation of any tools or navigating to any website whatsoever, so it’s perfect for users who may be less tech-savvy.
It’s called the Steps Recorder (previously the Problem Steps Recorder in Windows 7) and it’s as easy to use as “Start” and “Stop”.
Here’s how it works:
- Go to Start (or equivalent based on your Windows flavor)
2. Type either “Problem Steps Recorder” (for Win 7) or just “Steps Recorder” for Win 8+ and launch the app.
3. Hit ‘Start Record’ and then go through the steps that you’d like to document.
4. When you’re done, hit “Stop Record” and you’ll be taken to a new window that shows all of the interaction steps as screenshots with description. Specifically, whenever the user clicks onscreen, a screenshot is taken showing exactly when and where.
5. Hit ‘Save Recording’ and you’re done. The newly created .zip file can be emailed back and forth, and contains a series of screenshots which can either be viewed individually, or as a slideshow.
The result is a printable, documented sequence of steps that clearly show what was done, when, and in what order. Priceless for replicating error scenarios.
Pro Tip: The “recording” is not a video but instead a file that opens in your web browser. That’s great for file size, but can mean that some on-screen activity could be missed (for e.g., splash screens or transient error messages). To force a screenshot to be added at any point during recording, simply click somewhere onscreen!