5 Things to Consider for Successful UX Design for eLearning

Well thought-out UX Design is crucial for developing an outstanding eLearning course. But, it is essential that any User Experience Designer and/or eLearning developer has taken the time to really consider what makes a User Experience successful. So, here are 5 things that we recommend considering to ensure that any learner/user experience is the best it can be.

1. Plan, plan, plan

Planning is an essential part of the UX Design journey, as this prevents wasted time from correcting mistakes and revisions that may be necessary if you jump straight into the digital design of the User Interface. Planning involves really delving deep into the mind and needs of the learner, and what they really need to take from the eLearning experience. With them in mind, the aesthetic elements of the UX design process should begin with an exploration of ideas, for example using site maps and user-flow diagrams to organise thoughts and test out possibilities.

2. Always know ‘how’

One rule of thumb is that no learner should be at any point during the course left wondering how to perform a task. If they have to stop and think ‘how’ to close a tab, progress to the next page, or exit the course altogether, then this is not a successful UX design. In order to prevent this, the user interface should be designed in such a way that the learner can easily navigate around course without any confusion. After all, you shouldn’t assume that the user knows what you know about the design itself. Make it easy for them!

3. Is Navigation the Most Important Element?

In short, no. While extremely important for User Experience design in the context of eLearning, the learner’s ultimate aim is to complete a task or goal, and to retain the information presented to them. It could be argued that the actual content of the course is more essential to the learner than the means in which they navigate the content. Yet, the way information is presented to learners can affect the level of retention of the course content, as smooth, seamless navigation can lead to a more enjoyable user experience, meaning learners are more motivated to, well, learn. Therefore, the navigation of the interface should complement the learner’s goals.

4. Consistency is key

In terms of the User Interface, the navigation and design should be consistent to prevent learners from having to guess. If the ‘next’ button is in a particular position on one page, be sure to keep it there on the next. It’s a relatively obvious thing to consider, but inconsistency in the design is a common mistake. If the User Experience is consistent, then learners can trust the process of the course, as they know what to expect. This makes the experience more enjoyable and easier as a whole and prevents wasting any time playing hide and seek with buttons.

5. Be inspired by daily life

In a world surrounded by digital experiences, take advantage of your exposure to the various user interfaces you come across in life. Pay attention to what you like, as well as what you don’t like, be it checking your email, surfing the web on your IPad, or even at the self-service checkout in your local shop. As opposed to a UX designer’s perspective, this puts you in the shoes of the user/learner and gives you an invaluable opportunity to register the emotions and thoughts you have when interacting with the digital world around you. After all, learners will experience similar emotions when interacting with your UX design, so be sure to take some inspiration from what works and doesn’t work for you.

While there are many more factors to consider for successful User Experience design when designing eLearning courses, these were but a few examples of what you could consider to make your own design really great.

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4 UX Design Trends for eLearning 2019

The user experience (or UX) of a website or app is critical to keep users engaged and eager to interact with the content at hand. In the context of UX design for elearning, this is incredibly important, as better engagement equals better retention of information, and thus, leads to a successful elearning course. Here are 4 UX design trends for elearning in 2019, which will have a positive impact on user engagement.

1. Gamification

UX Design trends in the context of eLearning in 2019 can include gamifying the learning experience. Gamification in elearning is rapidly emerging as an effective technique to enhance learning, using motivational elements and engaging design to do so. This trend of incorporating playful elements, such as presenting challenges in the form of games, or by using game elements like badges and points, motivates learners and increases friendly competition between them. As a result, this leads to successful elearning.

One innovative elearning example that makes use of gamification in its user interface is Duolingo, where players are able to achieve skill patches after completing certain levels and can propose challenges to friends to earn ‘Lingots’, the in-game currency. However, while it may be easy to get carried away with adding all sorts of gaming elements to your elearning design, it is important to ensure it is well thought out, well designed, and above all, relevant. Challenges and competition, rewards, like stars or badges can improve motivation and tap into the learner’s aspirations and introduce a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. However, finding your learners ‘true’ motivational drive can often provide the best success.

2. Minimalism

Much more UX designers are embracing that age-old idea that ‘less is more’ – the aim is simplicity, and it is common for elearning developers to strip down to only the material which the learner will need, and presenting it in a minimalistic manner. Uncluttered interfaces are key to a seamless, smooth user experience, and we are seeing increasingly more websites and apps with simple user interface designs which rely on a few bold colours, clean layouts, and open spaces, as opposed to distracting, busy designs using shadows and texture.

Keeping the user interface design light and simple allow the user to only see what they need, and when it is needed; and contribute to a seamless interaction flow, making the learner feel at ease and in control. Another minimalistic user interface design example is smoother transitioning. This means reducing the tension between taking an action and giving a response to it, for example, having smooth transitions between clicking the ‘next’ button and moving to the next slide of the course. While this may seem like a minor consideration, it is one that contributes to a better user experience overall.

3. Microlearning

UX Design trends for elearning in 2019 can also include microlearning, which refers to giving learners information in the form of small ‘bitesize’ chunks, delivering content in small, specific, and manageable bursts. This is a popular trend because it gives learners the autonomy to direct their own learning path, consuming content at their own pace. Microlearning in elearning can consist of easy to read layouts with small chunks of text, with a brief description about what is about to be learnt and how much time they need to invest in it.

Furthermore, UX design elements in elearning that also constitute as microlearning can include short videos and slides, which can provide information quickly and concisely, as opposed to long articles. Not only is this less time consuming, a short video explaining the basics of a concept is sure to helps learners grasp concepts much more quickly, which in turn maximises the focus and engagement with the course, thus leading to success. Microlearning also can be accessed on the go, and thus helps learners manage their time, something which has become increasingly more important in the fast-paced, modern society.

4. Social Learning

Social learning is another trend present in the field, due to the fact that learners are often present on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter, etc. Learning doesn’t have to be confined to one platform only, and thus, successful UX design in the context of elearning may involve keeping momentum and building trust through updates and friendly reminders through social media, in order to ensure the user experience is the best it can be to optimise learning. Students like to share knowledge with friends or join groups/clubs, so extending the learning experience beyond the main format and incorporating social media is a good way to enhance it. Examples of how this can be done can include creating a Facebook group for a set of trainees/learners, where live video features can be used by students to create course videos to share with the group.

Another example could be on Twitter, where a classroom hashtag can be created where learners and educators alike can tweet in long walls of text. Ultimately, there is an emerging trend of integrating social media platforms with elearning to offer a more relatable and engaging learner experience. Similarly, just like learners may switch between social media platforms, they may wish to switch between devices. Therefore, in today’s digital climate, it is common for elearning UX designers to create a responsive or adaptive design. A responsive design simply responds to the size of a device, and adjusts itself to fit the screen accordingly, for example accessing elearning from a laptop, then sizing down when on a mobile phone. On the other hand, adaptive sites require totally different versions of a site to be created, so that when a page is opened on a specific device or browser, the correct version loads. So, due to the social media-heavy lives of learners, as well as the multitude of devices used, it is becoming more of a trend to cater to these aspects of learner’s busy lives.

These are but some of many UX Design trends in eLearning in 2019 – be sure to check out our LinkedIn for more blog posts like this, as well as our website!

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Why UX Design is a Vital Aspect of eLearning

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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