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

Posted in Blogging, Tips, Web Design • Posted on 11 Comments

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!

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Rean was the editor of 1stwebdesigner. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development. Rean also writes at a blog dedicated to teaching people how to make money online.

11 Comments Best Comments First
  • sanjay

    Monday, October 1st, 2012 09:10

    1

    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.

    0
    • Rean John Uehara

      Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:31

      7

      Yep, I made this point here: Hey Web Designers and Web Developers, Are You Blogging Yet?. And yeah, writing a tutorial takes a lot of time, since you need to actually explain each step for people to understand, but it’s pretty rewarding. :)

      0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, October 1st, 2012 15:39

      2

      Sanjay, yes, good points. Tutorials really take up a lot of time, well only possibly fix would be video tutorial :)

      0
  • DesignSkew

    Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:07

    4

    I don;t think breaking a tutorial into pages works, Tutorial should be one page, though concise.

    0
    • Rean John Uehara

      Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:27

      5

      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.

      0
  • Mike

    Monday, October 1st, 2012 23:45

    3

    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!

    0
    • Rean John Uehara

      Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:28

      6

      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!

      0
  • Chiranjeev

    Thursday, November 29th, 2012 06:19

    11

    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.

    0
  • Jorge

    Monday, October 8th, 2012 23:37

    10

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

    0
  • puspo66

    Friday, October 5th, 2012 02:58

    9

    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.

    0
  • Ellision

    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 06:48

    8

    Great information thanks. I did not expect that again i see another good information,many thanks again

    0
  • Chiranjeev

    Thursday, November 29th, 2012 06:19

    11

    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.

    0
  • Jorge

    Monday, October 8th, 2012 23:37

    10

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

    0
  • puspo66

    Friday, October 5th, 2012 02:58

    9

    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.

    0
  • Ellision

    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 06:48

    8

    Great information thanks. I did not expect that again i see another good information,many thanks again

    0
  • DesignSkew

    Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:07

    4

    I don;t think breaking a tutorial into pages works, Tutorial should be one page, though concise.

    0
    • Rean John Uehara

      Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:27

      5

      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.

      0
  • Mike

    Monday, October 1st, 2012 23:45

    3

    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!

    0
    • Rean John Uehara

      Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:28

      6

      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!

      0
  • sanjay

    Monday, October 1st, 2012 09:10

    1

    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.

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Monday, October 1st, 2012 15:39

      2

      Sanjay, yes, good points. Tutorials really take up a lot of time, well only possibly fix would be video tutorial :)

      0
    • Rean John Uehara

      Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 05:31

      7

      Yep, I made this point here: Hey Web Designers and Web Developers, Are You Blogging Yet?. And yeah, writing a tutorial takes a lot of time, since you need to actually explain each step for people to understand, but it’s pretty rewarding. :)

      0

Comments are closed.

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