We’ve been busy working on some new projects.  One thing we strive for always is our user interface and usability.  It cannot be underestimated.  Unfortunately, you find many online courses and e-learning training doing the wrong things which ultimately shuts the learner down and puts them into the “just get this done” mode – rather than “I want to learn more” mode.

A few things we always keep in mind when designing our e-learning interfaces:

  1. Audience – Are they computer savvy?  Are they an older demographic?  Are they kids?  It all matters.  Do not underestimate the importance of this.  
  2. Colors – Again, look at your audience.  Get a book such as Pantone’s Guide for Communicating with Color or find some other resources for how color affects the psychology of people who see your designs.  Ever wonder why banks almost always have the color blue in their logos? It’s because blue is associated with water and the sky which are considered constant and dependable.
  3. Buttons – we like simple buttons for custom e-learning apps – Exit, Help, Continue, Go Back.  Keep it simple.  Don’t overthink things and make sure the user can navigate effectively.  For online courses, don’t overcomplicate your LMS – keep things simple and concentrate on the content you provide – be a facilitator, not a complicator.
  4. Content – keep the content engaging and on the screen.  If you just provide PDF files or PPT files for learners to download and post to a discussion, it’s OK but aren’t there better ways of engaging your learners?
  5. Multimedia – Just because “you can” doesn’t mean you should.  Drag and Drop interactions and multimedia interactions look cool, but often times are unnecessary.  If there is a particular concept that is difficult to teach through the written word or a lecture, consider developing a multimedia interaction that helps to illustrate the concept.  We’ve seen time and time again where e-learning developers spend too much time on multimedia and forget about the entire instructional design.  Work on your instructional design first, then build it out.
  6. Get a wire diagramming tool to help you develop, test, and get approval of your design prior to development.
  7. Develop your e-learning and get approval along the way.  Nothing hurts more than building out the entire e-learning and then showing it off only to find that you have to redo the interface because the buttons are confusing to the target audience test group.

Following this simple advice will help you develop some pretty good training.  Simplicity is always best, focus on content and facilitation.