3 Simple Points to Know in Order to Write a Great Tutorial

Every week there are hundreds of web design and web development tutorials that are published online, but are they getting enough attention? You would see great tutorials having around fifty comments, and a couple of hundred likes, but is that it? Do people really follow these tutorials from start to finish or just lurk around and check out the demo?

I have seen hundreds of tutorials since I was studying in college, tutorials involving: Photoshop, Flash, Blender, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, and a dozen more. But here’s the thing, out of those several hundreds of tutorials I’ve seen, only a few stood out and stayed with me.

And they had all three qualities that made them great tutorials.

So, How do you Write a Great Tutorial?

1. Timeless

A great tutorial is timeless. It doesn’t matter how many months or years have passed by, it is still relevant to a degree. A great tutorial is something that can easily be updated, or can be taken a context from. Since technology is always changing, when you write a tutorial be sure to make it so that updates will be easy to apply. Write tutorials that you believe would prove useful now, tomorrow, and several months from now.

I mentioned writing a tutorial that “can be taken a context from,” it means laying out the basic principles. Principles in design, development, and writing rarely change, and you need to point them for your readers.

For example:

When writing a coding tutorial on how to create a secure login system using PHP, you need to explain why or why not hashing and salting is good. Not simply write the code for the readers to copy and paste.

For design tutorials, explaining the principles of design, colors, and telling them your techniques would greatly help to further improve your readers’ skills. Because every tutorial is not really the end-goal itself, but a pre-requisite to a more larger goal. Think of it as learning new techniques, once you have a dozen of them you can finally put them together to create a masterpiece. In this case, being timeless means being able to apply what you teach to a multitude of other techniques. Not simply to create a logo or a web template, but to also understand the basic principles of colors and placement and everything else.

2. Straight to the Point

Why are you writing a tutorial? To teach people what you know. Remember when your math professor loved to beat around the bush? Made you pretty anxious and lose interest, right? It’s the same with tutorials. It’s better to be straight to the point, at least most of the time. Since people will only land on your tutorial to learn the basic principles and techniques. Readers would often want to remember everything, every step you have, and later on incorporate those with their own style. You will be doing them a great favor if you explain things as simple and brief as possible.

When I was beginning to study PHP, the only tutorials I stayed and played through were the ones that actually solved my problems.

3. Useful Formatting

  • Be sure to divide your tutorial into several steps
  • Use of images to help your readers visualize is a must
  • Explanation before the tutorial proper, or explanation after every section
  • Use of bullet points and numbering is highly suggested

Websites (aside from 1WD) that I’m Totally Fond of:

  • CSS-Tricks
  • Cats Who Code
  • W3Schools – not really affiliated with the W3C, but it is definitely useful especially for beginners. If you can write tutorials the same way W3Schools does, then you already understand the whole point of this post!

Would You Like to Write Tutorials for Us?

We are always looking for individuals who have things to share. Be it designing or coding tutorials, we’d love to hear from you. For more information on how to join 1WD, please refer to our guest posting guidelines

Here are some of the many great tutorials we have for you to check out and enjoy!

Rean John Uehara

Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Rean,
    The all three point you have covered via the above post for writing a great tutorial are really helpful. Maintaining a useful format for a tutorial is most important thing for writing a tutorial. Well written thanks for sharing.

  2. Jorge says

    Great article, I definitely agree with the use of strict formatting when publishing a tutorial.

  3. puspo66 says

    Yes web design is a very essential part in our work but at first i can not understand it easily. so your speech is very strong and meaningful.

    • says

      While I don’t like separating tutorials into several parts, I think it’s necessary. Especially for long tutorials like how to design a working WordPress theme. Separating them into stages is important because you don’t want to hit the readers hard.

  4. Mike says

    I’ve used to write tutorials some time ago, maybe when I get some inspiration and find the necessity of sharing something new, I’ll surely consider this article. Thank you!

    • says

      I almost forgot, I wrote an article once about why Developers and Designers should blog. One point I made there is to teach, to mentor people who want to be just like you.

      Thanks!

  5. says

    Another reason that I write design tutorials is that newbie designers has a starting point to help them get started. Explaining and sharing your techniques is a great way of helping fellow designer. One thing to look out though, is that writing a tutorial takes a lot of time, or maybe that’s just me.