All too often in eLearning development, courses are dull, lack engagement, and tend to ramble on without getting to the point quickly. This is a natural offshoot of designing a course to be used in-house, rather than as a product that will eventually go to the market. However, if more designers created courses as though they were products, the result would be significantly different. If more course designers thought like product designers, the end product could be improved so much. What might change?
Design eLearning to Look Good
Simply put, the aesthetics of a course affect how a user feels and interacts with the course. If a course is utilitarian in design, Spartan in layout, and lacking the nuances of good aesthetics, users will not connect emotionally. That lack of emotional connection, or worse yet, a negative emotional connection, leads to a decline in cognition while taking the course. Simply put, poor aesthetics in terms of design will lead to fewer users actually taking away from the course what they should.
Designers must ensure that the course fits the topic, as well as the users’ tastes. It should be consistent, and the style should be based on existing guidelines. That style needs to be maintained throughout, and should not feel “stitched together” from different pieces. This will help ensure that users experience positive feelings about the course, which will improve cognition. With a positive experience, users are more open to learning, which also enhances cognition and works towards reaching the organization’s goals.
Design eLearning for Usability
Too many designers focus on simply getting the course done with all the needed information included. They don’t focus on how that information is accessed or absorbed, only that it is present. However, usability is a crucial consideration here. This goes well beyond the design of the UI, all the way down to each touch point where the user interacts with the course to take an action. It could be something as simple as a “next” button or a “read more” button. It also includes browsing, skimming, scanning and even course registration and feedback.
It’s crucial for designers to consider learnability when designing a system so that beginners have no problems accessing the course. It’s also vital that efficiency and memorability are considered (how easily experienced users can move through the course, and how easy it is to remember where one left off). Of course, it’s also crucial that the designer knows his or her audience well enough to connect with them emotionally, on a deeper level. eLearning Development
Design eLearning for Practicality eLearning Development
It’s tempting to design courses with an altruistic eye, but they must also be practical. For instance, all the information contained within the course should be immediately applicable to a user’s daily life. For example, a worker training on diversity in the workplace should be able to immediately apply skills or knowledge gained from the course to their workday. Practicality can be difficult to achieve in course design, but with a full analysis of the workplace environment and an understanding of the gap between current and goal skills and knowledge, it becomes simpler. It’s also crucial that the course provides real-world scenarios to drive home the points being made. eLearning Development
Not thinking like a product designer leads to courses that feel generic and lacking. However, when eLearning course designers create courses as though they were products going to market, that changes. It’s now possible to create a course that engages, that offers user satisfaction, that fosters better cognition, and leads to an overall improved user experience.