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The Role of User Experience in Modern eLearning Design

If you were to run a Google search for “user experience design,” you will see the following search results on-screen:

Just look at the sheer number of search results, mind-boggling, isn’t it? User Experience Design is one of the most fascinating subjects that has far-reaching ramifications. Think of it in aspects that touch our lives every day! The standard design of a laptop keyboard, the way a car’s steering and dashboard are designed, or the buttons and controls in an elevator; we are all used to seeing things in a specific way, and using them accordingly. Any changes to pre-defined patterns and structures cause problems for us and it takes a fairly long time in getting used to a changed user experience. This blog looks at the role of user experience in modern eLearning design and how it influences learner behavior and the learner experience.


What is User Experience?

A simple definition of user experience is as follows – “User Experience is defined as a person’s perceptions of and responses to the use of a product, system, or service.” This is shortened to UX, some people also bring in the term UI, which stands for User Interface. At the onset, it is important to distinguish these two terms. The user interface is a part or important element of what we know as user experience. It is once again important to remember that these are two different entities and are not to be confused or used interchangeably.


User Experience and eLearning

As a learner at the workplace, have you been assigned an eLearning course that simply did not work for you? Have you thought why one eLearning course was an absolute disaster, whereas other courses are interesting and hold your attention completely? There could be multiple underlying reasons for this disconnect or poor learning experience. Chief reasons that are cited for poor learner engagement and a course failing to work are:

  • Poor target audience analysis

  • Content not mapped to learning objectives

  • Template-driven design or poor pre-packaged catalog course

  • Dumping of information in the name of knowledge

  • No proper structure to the course

  • No interactivities or games to break the monotony of learning

  • Overall poor user experience

In this blog, we will look at the role of user experience in learner engagement and expand on it, describing why user experience needs to be a prime point of consideration for learning experience designers.


Pre-Defined Templates and Poor User Experience

Most traditional eLearning courses have a “box-like” design. There is a standard rectangular template with a light background color. A distinct area is reserved for captions, there are “Previous” and “Next” buttons on the screen, and the core area is taken up by the animation that plays on the screen. When one keeps looking at the same design again and again with no clear innovation it really hurts the learning experience.


The original eLearning courses were designed for consumption on a desktop monitor. As learning evolves to be consumed on tablets and smartphones, the traditional templates will no longer work as an effective canvas for deploying learning content. To sum it up, one of the key factors that contribute to a poor learning experience is the over-reliance on template-driven catalog courses.


A Better User Experience Through Modern eLearning Design

So, how do we go deliver a remarkable or rather memorable learning experience to learners through better UX in the ambit of modern eLearning design? The focus should be on a minimalistic canvas that eliminates unwanted or extraneous elements within the core learning area on the screen. If one looks at a modern LXP or LMS or even a dedicated mobile learning app, one will understand the importance that is given to “material design”.


Every element in the course, be it a button, an arrow, or a call-to-action sign, follow a unified-design policy that seamlessly integrates with the course. The advantage of a modern and aesthetic design is that the course works perfectly fine across all operating systems and devices and is truly “responsive”. This becomes increasingly important as more organizations shift to a hybrid or remote working model that necessitates people accessing learning content from different devices on non-corporate networks.


Tips for a Better User Experience

Aside from the visual aesthetics and design of the course template, some tips for learning experience designers to offer a better user experience to learners are listed below:

  • Keep the learning to the point, structure, and chunk content into appropriate portions

  • Tell the learners what they are going to learn. Communicate the goals and objectives

  • Give the learners the option to start the course from anywhere they want. This will not apply to mandatory compliance and safety training eLearning programs

  • Focus on accessibility options for people with disabilities. Check how you can make the content more accessible to everyone. Less sparkling lights, toning down on the animation, featuring audio at a normal pace, mandatory captions, the ability to boost audio, etc., are just some of the options available

  • Typography that is easy to read and simple navigation options may seem rudimentary, but often in the pursuit of the big picture, this is lost. Focus on easy-to-read font size and style and accessible navigation

  • Place the learner at the center of the entire learning experience and design the course around the thought – “If I was the learner, what would I love to learn?”

  • Incorporate spaced learning or learning nudges to reinforce learning

  • Use thoughtfully designed assessments, games, and quizzes to test what the learners acquired from completing the course

Conclusion

At S4C, we work closely with organizations that are looking to convert their legacy learning content into modern eLearning courses. We also work on brand-new eLearning projects conceptualized from the start and executed till deployment and support. Our focus is on maintaining the balance between visual aesthetics, and content, and providing a clutter-free and memorable learning experience. Write to us at sales@s4carlisle.com to learn how we can help you achieve your training goals with a thoughtfully designed modern eLearning course.



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