What Got You Here Will Not Always Get You There
The traditional learning system is no longer effective, explaining why people require more personalized and experiential methods to memorize information. Textbooks, outmoded instructions, and classroom lessons fail to meet the needs of a modern learner. Today, employees must experience the syllabus themselves and have it in a more accessible form.
Training methods used for a decade can hardly bring positive results in the post-pandemic world. No one is willing to sit for hours and watch the educator instruct the staff on how to do something, or read 20-page long manuals. Presentations are also a poor solution because they lack interaction and have nothing that would stimulate learners to remember information. Moreover, 61 % of employees have no time for training that encompasses more than they can take. Therefore, they want an engaging and comprehensive Learning and Development (L&D) program.
eLearning allows training developers to address all the aforementioned points, even though it might be confusing for them. With online learning training, educators can make interactive, fun, and fast-paced lessons that help people become more well-rounded professionals. However, eLearning program development requires a well-thought-out approach. This starts with understanding the employees’ learning experience needs.
What Is Learning Experience?
Learning experience represents any program, course, or interaction resulting in a learning process. Hence, it isn’t strictly related to a single medium, such as video lessons. Instead, the learning experience encompasses both traditional and nontraditional environments. But fewer insights exist concerning how to adjust it to a virtual setting. That’s why it’s necessary to talk about the importance of User Experience (UX) design in the learning process. Without this knowledge, training developers will lack the skills to create a comprehensive eLearning program and engage their employees.
What Is eLearning User Experience?
L&D developers will rarely find materials and sources discussing UX in the context of eLearning. After all, the core definition of UX never changes, and it applies to every platform or setting that facilitates the learning process. UX is a multifaceted concept that refers to the quality of interaction users have with the product, service, or brand. The principal goal is to ensure it’s user-friendly and comfortable and can lead to positive outcomes. eLearning UX is no different. It refers to the interaction between learners and the digital platform enabling the learning to unfold. If the platform is sluggish or glitchy, users will likely fail to adopt new skills and knowledge, resulting in dissatisfaction.
What Is User Experience Design?
UX design stands for decisions facilitators make while considering aspects that affect the interaction between the users and the product or a brand. They must consider usability and accessibility to increase user satisfaction and learning success. Hence, the emphasis isn’t solely on how happy the learners will be with the experience. It is more about whether they will be efficient in acquiring knowledge and expanding their abilities.
Training developers must develop an intuitive interface and make the most of the platform in sharing valuable information and coursework material. Every detail counts and requires thorough research and understanding of the target audience. Like training, the platform should be personalized, offering the most compatible categories and shortcuts for the team or department. For instance, IT employees will probably prefer clean interfaces and straightforward content. On the other hand, educational developers should pay more attention to aesthetics with teams such as marketing and social media managers. A few aspects affect the learning process, regardless of employees’ roles and departments.
UX Design Principles That Impact The Learning Experience
Know your target audience before developing an eLearning program. Understand the needs, expectations, and objectives of your learners. Consider what a particular training should teach employees, and the learning techniques they may prefer. Should they learn to use a new company software or adopt skills that would help them transition into a different job role?
Answer these questions to identify the best ways to present the coursework and make it easy to follow. Align these insights with the main page and dashboard that learners will use to browse and participate in training. Moreover, knowing the ideal outcomes of the program should let you know how many lessons to include and what materials to use. Efficient L&D is unlikely if you don’t know what your learners should achieve and how it would benefit them.
Even though you should know what the learners should accomplish after completing the project, assume they don’t know anything about the topic or program you’re introducing. This also means they might not know where to start and what category or link to click on first. Although L&D may think choosing a specific step would be logical and easy to understand, eliminate these assumptions. When stimulating people to learn, make the process as easy as possible.
The platform navigation should be intuitive and smooth. Learners should encounter no trouble clicking on links and buttons, and the loading times should be fast. They should also have the same learning experience, regardless of their device. Moreover, clarify what learners should do next after every activity and lesson. Give them additional information, control, and cues regarding navigational elements. For instance, you can use progress bars to allow people to understand how far they have come and how much they have left.
Another helpful option is to enable learners to return to previous slides, chapters, or videos. That way, they can revisit past lessons and parts they might have missed. But the best way to enhance eLearning navigation is to provide a menu with links that lead to all course sections. Using this, learners will have an easier time getting around and understanding the scope.
It’s impossible to stress enough how significant it is to make eLearning accessible to every learner, regardless of the device they use and the location from where they access the lessons. The platform should run smoothly and be free of glitches, bugs, and errors.
Employees should also have no problems participating in the program remotely. Therefore, L&D developers should make all lessons and materials accessible inside and outside the office. They can also make the program available even after learners complete it. That way, employees can return to old coursework and refresh their knowledge and skills if they ever need them.
UX typically isn’t about visual design, as learners are rarely going to stop for a bit and admire the aesthetics. It is more about how the L&D developers combine various elements and ensure graphics aren’t solely decorative. Making eLearning programs requires creativity and playfulness. It’s necessary to experiment with different graphic design aspects and combine texts, animations, and images.
People memorize best when content presentation includes a variety of diagrams, gifs, comparative charts, illustrations, etc. Text can also come as audio, and not only in written form. The main page should be well-designed to encourage learners to continue interacting with the program and seeking knowledge. The modules should be concise and easy to browse. But even though the dashboard should be attractive, it’s more significant to opt for a simplified design that looks good. Moreover, it should be professional and aligned with learners’ visual expectations and the company’s branding.
Remember, the goal of every eLearning program is to provide people with new skills and knowledge, not to leave them in awe of the design. Hence, some elements should be so good that they’re hardly noticeable. The learners should be happy with the visuals, but it shouldn’t distract them or be more remarkable than the content itself. Balance creativity with effectiveness and ensure the program is all-encompassing.
Every part of the eLearning program should have a purpose. Be intentional about every element—image, video, or a design feature. Avoid superfluous visuals, even if you’re tempted to use multiple aesthetic pictures to boost a lesson’s appeal. You don’t want to overwhelm the learners with unnecessary cognitive load. Never force people to use more brain power than they must on videos and pictures that contribute little to nothing to the content effectiveness.
The User Interface can be captivating even if it has a minimalist design. Instead of including every element that you perceive as attractive, add only things that matter. A bunch of representational graphics (e.g., stock photos) are rarely a good use of space. Focus on explanatory visions that enhance the learning process and make it easier for learners to interpret definitions and information. For instance, graphic organizers, transitional graphics, relational graphics, and visuals that depict something that would otherwise be invisible are helpful, as they help people memorize critical points.
You can also use design elements that make the eLearning program come across as more relevant and familiar to learners. Provide more background context and graphics to concepts that are alien to your employees.
Complex and overly technical language can make it harder for learners to understand the content and memorize it. Avoid colloquialism and jargon, as that could make the program come across as unprofessional. Use terminology your learners are familiar with and ensure they have no problems comprehending the lessons. Whenever you must use non-standard terms, provide clarifications and definitions. It’s also wise to keep the language positive, friendly, informal, and conversational.
Ensure all design elements are consistent and aligned with the content. Otherwise, learners could be confused and might be unsure of what to do next. Be consistent with the language, materials, and branding. Everything should flow harmoniously and make it easy for people to focus on learning.
8. Continuous Improvements
Your work doesn’t finish with the eLearning program completion. Instead, your next task is to seek feedback and continuously improve the lessons and materials. Encourage the learners to let you know what they think of the course and what you could do to enhance it. That way, you ensure your program continues evolving and offering the best learning experience to employees.
Developing an efficient and comprehensive eLearning program is challenging and requires thorough preparation and research. But if you provide a stellar UX and understand your learners’ objectives and needs, you will create more consistent and relevant content. Start by identifying your target audience’s expectations and developing a program that addresses these standards and acknowledges the principles that ease the learning process.