If you read the previous blog, Creating Your First eLearning Course, you are already on your way to being an instructional design maven. Congratulations! In this post, we will discuss the importance of interface design – what the learning experience will “look and feel” like. To start, we’ll talk about audience analysis, which is the critical first step in design, and then we’ll look at some elements of good screen design that apply directly to learning.
Identifying Your Target Audience
The secret to learner engagement really comes down to understanding who your audience is and designing the content – and the “look” – to suit their needs and learning style. If you were designing a course about workers’ compensation law, you wouldn’t necessarily present the content the same way for daycare professionals as you would for construction workers, right? Building a course with a specific learner in mind can do wonders for helping you create focused content that engages them, visually.
For instance, your construction worker audience may be primarily males, who would respond better to simple content delivery – no fluff, with templates that use a neutral color scheme. Whereas, you might find that the majority of your daycare professionals are women, who may prefer bright, energetic colors and more visual content. Could you imagine delivering a “daycare” design to a block mason? The look can definitely affect the learner’s receptiveness to your message.
It’s vital to understand your audience when crafting learning objectives, too. Objectives that don’t target what a learner really needs to know are simply a waste of time, and will weigh the learner down. For example, if you were presenting a workers’ compensation course to construction workers, is it really important to explain the history of the law? Probably not. But would you need to explain how and when to file a claim? Continually ask yourself: if I were the target audience, would I need to know this information to achieve the learning objectives? If not, the content probably doesn’t belong in your course. Always speak directly to your audience with objectives that will be relatable and important for them. If you don’t, even a clever well-designed interface won’t make a difference.
Designing Smart Interface Designs
Now that you’ve identified your audience, it’s time to think about design. Like we mentioned previously, this always means designing with your audience in mind. Using interface design techniques is a smart way to make a big impact on the overall learning experience. Here are some easy tips that can drastically improve your course’s overall presentation.
When creating online learning, be sure to use:
• Short paragraphs: Long paragraphs tend to look intimidating on the screen.
• Sans Serif Fonts: These fonts are clean, clear, and easy to read.
• Text Displayed in Columns: Reading long lines can take time, and can fatigue the eyes. Stick with quick, accessible column style writing.
• Eye Scan Friendly Layout: When you look at eye tracking research, you’ll notice the gaze naturally travels from left to right, and down towards the center. Orient your learners by designing screens to follow their natural eye line.
• Space: Don’t scare your learners by trying to squeeze too much on one screen, use the least amount of text and graphics you need to get your point across. Less is more!
• Video, animation or still: Media can help carry your message. But sometimes, you can convey just as much or even more information with a still image than with a more expensive, sophisticated video or animation. Based on research by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer, still images require less mental load and so can increase learning retention!
• Images: Tying into the previous point, eye tracking research proves time and time again that visuals are like catnip to learners. Use images to draw them in and promote what’s important on your screen.
• Bullets: Because you really can’t beat a clearly organized list. Wasn’t this easy to read?
Interface Design Challenge
Here are a few Digitec samples of interface designs. See if you can match them up. (Scroll down for the answers).
1. An interface designed for middle school kids to learn about life skills
2. A mobile learning interface design for garage owners
3. An interface design for corporate professionals
4. A mobile learning design for high school kids to learn about economics.
Creating your first course can be a challenge, but if you’re mindful of your audience, you can design a truly memorable learning experience that your learners can relate to and learn from.
For more examples of well-designed eLearning courses, check out our samples.
If you’d like to learn about custom eLearning course creation from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.
1 = D. CyberSavvy
2 = A. Wolf Oil
3 = C. ISACA
4 = B. Gen I
Ready to find out what Digitec can do for you?