I am not the kind of person who needs to read the help pages on Web sites--at least most of the time. But the same cannot be said for a lot of folks I know. In fact just this past weekend I was showing someone in their late-60s (who is quite smart, I might add) where the full screen button was on YouTube.
In that same vein is a new site called Grovo, which breaks down how to use popular Internet sites into short, two-minute video tutorials. Included are places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs, Craigslist, and even Yelp.
The vast majority of these sites have their own help sections or how-to videos, but those may not broach the simpler topics, or have videos of what to do--let alone the fact that each site's help or how-to page can be different. Grovo's solution for these issues is to put together a grouping of its own videos that goes soup to nuts on how to use an entire site, or just a single part of it.
Take for instance Facebook, which currently has two sections in Grovo. One is for what Grovo considers "the basics," including things like registering, where all the buttons are, and what wall posts do. Then there's a breakdown of how to use Facebook's Pages section, which is divided up in six lessons. Users can watch through these one at a time, or in a row as one cohesive clip.
This is where Grovo's business comes in, as each time you play one of these videos, it goes against a view counter. When you first sign up with Grovo, you get five video views, but more can be had by inviting friends to join the site. You get five additional views for every person you invite, with an extra five on top of that if the person signs up. Eventually, you'll just be able to skip the whole social thing and buy units, entire chunks of lessons on any particular topic, as well as premium videos, though these features are not coming for another month or two.
Also on the list of features coming in the future are assignments. The site will let businesses require users to get "certified" on any particular topic, which involves running through an entire package of videos the administrator has chosen. For now, you're just able to see your own progress of completed lesson videos out of the site's full catalog.
One thing that would immediately appear to be a problem over the long run is that these videos can become quickly outdated. To that end, the company plans to make changes to existing videos when the sites add, remove, or tweak features.
"Keeping our content updated is a top priority, and we allocate resources to monitoring changes and revising content as new features are rolled out," Grovo's CEO and co-founder Jeff Fernandez told CNET yesterday. "We're building a proprietary system to make this process streamlined and quick so the content is perpetually relevant."
To help with that, users will be able to ping the site to let them know if something needs a change, or if there's a site they want added to Grovo's lessons. Fernandez says the company will release new videos every two weeks and expand on existing lesson guides.
If you want to give the site a spin, it's free to sign up. At launch there are 21 sites, and 320 lessons.