There are fundamental differences between User Experience (UX) and elearning – yet a sound understanding of UX design can really enhance the overall learning experience for your target audience. UX design involves a more holistic approach towards the way a user interacts with a product or website, considering the intentions, attitudes and behaviours that occur when a user does so. On the other hand, elearning often involves a main focus on engaging a learner in activities and achieving goals, with more emphasis placed on content.
Regardless of differences, any elearning developer can use their skills to improve their UX strategies. While many have a good knowledge of human cognition and the ways in which people successfully learn, many X designers have more of an understanding of user-technology interaction preferences. In essence, both fields can inform one another.
So why is UX design important for elearning development?
As many would assume, the interface of a website or app can greatly affect the way a user engages with the content being presented to them, and therefore influences the success of their learning. For example, how do learners focus on the content of a text-dominated elearning course, and how much does it engage them? Equally, can users effectively learn from a graphics-heavy interface with little to no text? While the content and learning reinforcements of an instance of elearning are clearly crucial, the content arrangement, flow and design elements focussed on within UX design are equally as important.
Now in more detail – what aspects of UX design are important in the context of elearning?
Engagement – engagement is driven by the uniformity, relevance and uniqueness of the interface of an elearning course. As the first thing that learners pick up on, it creates the first impression of what they are about to experience, and thus should be designed in such a way that captures their interest.
Interaction – in order to motivate the users to interact with the elearning content, it should be simple and designed in such a way that users can easily do so. This will increase interaction, and thus, accelerate the rate of course completion.
Satisfaction – the previous two aspects lead us to satisfaction; when learners can easily navigate the course, satisfaction levels, and thus levels of retention, increase, as users enjoy what they learn. The ease of navigation, the ability to utilise controls to the user’s advantage, and the graphics used, are but a few of the many elements of UX design that can be incorporated into elearning content to increase user satisfaction.
Ultimately, there is no point having outstanding elearning content, if your learners are forced to struggle through a complex user interface resulting from sub-par UX design. So, UX design for elearning really is important. With the ever-widening array of digital content possibilities, seamless and attractive UX should be considered by all elearning developers.
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