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Toolbox Tip: Production Times for Popular Tools
Thursday, April 25, 2013

One of the more common questions that I receive from new e-learning developers is how much time it will take to produce published content. The answer: It depends on which tool you are going to use to produce the lessons and how many minutes of e-learning playtime are you looking to produce.

In my experience, it will take you approximately 2 hours of labor to produce 1 minute of e-learning playtime if you use Adobe Captivate. If you use Camtasia, your labor will go down a bit (1.5 hours for every 1 minute of playtime). If Articulate Storyline is your tool of choice, you should plan on 2 hours of labor to produce every 1 minute of learning.

The production times mentioned above do not include the following:


  • Writing and rehearsing the script. I've found that it could take between 40-80 hours to write a script for 60-minutes of content. Once you're written the script, you'll likely need to run through it multiple times to ensure accuracy.
  • Recording the script. Once you've written a script, recording screen actions in any of the e-learning tools is simple and shouldn't take more than the actions detailed in the script. For instance, if the script has you recording a 3-minute process in Microsoft Word, it should only take 3-minutes to record the process.
  • Developing assets externally. I mention below that you can save production time by creating as much of the course assets as possible outside of the e-learning tool. Many people create content in PowerPoint and simply import it. While that means there will be less content to create in the tool, don't overlook the fact that the content still needs to be created in that other tool. In my experience, creating content in PowerPoint may be easy, but it still takes time. In fact, I'd put the development time in PowerPoint at about 1.5 hours for every minute or presentation play time.

The production clock begins ticking after you create a blank project, open a project containing previously recorded content, or import external content such as a PowerPoint presentation. Production includes, but is not limited to

  • adding/editing text content such as callouts/captions
  • adding images
  • adding animations
  • adding interactivity (buttons, clickable hotspots, menus, etc.)
  • creating quizzes
  • publishing to an LMS or web server
  • testing the published content
  • fixing errors found during the testing process
  • republishing and retesting.

This post is excerpted from the Iconlogic Blog, where Kevin and other tech experts share their insight on such authoring tools as Camtasia, PowerPoint, and Adobe’s Captivate, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Acrobat.

About the Author

Kevin A. Siegel is the founder and president of IconLogic. He has written more than 100 step-by-step computer training books, including Essentials of Adobe Captivate 5, Essentials of Adobe Captivate 4, Essentials of Adobe Captivate 3, Essentials of Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, Essentials of QuarkXPress 7, Accelerated QuarkXPress 6, Essentials of Adobe InDesign CS3, Essentials of Adobe PageMaker 7, and Essentials of Adobe RoboHelp 8.

Kevin spent five years in the U.S. Coast Guard as an award-winning photojournalist and has more than 23 years experience as a print publisher and technical writer. He is a certified technical trainer, has been a classroom instructor for more than 18 years, and is a frequent speaker at trade shows and conventions. Kevin holds multiple certifications from companies such as Adobe and the CompTIA.

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