It may come to no surprise to many designers and educators that a poor user interface will lead to a negative learning experience when it comes to online training courses. It’s up to us to do our part to ensure the experience is user-friendly and achieves its goals as smoothly as possible. So how can we make the interface in such a way that maximizes its effectiveness? The following concepts are a few to keep in mind when designing a training course. They are vital to creating an interface that is intuitive, effective, and accessible, thereby allowing the user to have a positive and informative experience.
An organized and easily understandable design is key. One great way to achieve this is by splitting a large amount of learning material into multiple sections in a logical manner. Each section should deal with a specific topic. Microlearning is a technique that encourages teaching and delivering content to learners in small and specific bursts. Think about it: it’s much harder for new information to stick when it’s thrown at you in a wall of text. Design the interface so that information is organized in smaller, more digestible chunks. Doing so improves user engagement and helps the user achieve the desired behaviors and objectives. Better learning leads to improved autonomy, allowing the user to feel more confident and valued.
People learn better when there are visual elements to supplement the text in the course. The article UX for Learning: Design Guidelines for the Learner Experience by Dorian Peters does a great job of listing guidelines for inserting multimedia and visual elements into learning materials. In summary: illustrations, photos, infographics, diagrams, charts, videos, and animations are all excellent additions to the course so long as they are relevant to the learning objective. Avoid adding visuals for the purpose of beautifying the interface, as visual elements should aid the user in learning concepts without being distracting. Abide by the principle of proximity by keeping visual elements close to the relevant text. Doing so aids the user in tying the visual element with the concepts described in the text, helping the information stick better and more quickly. Smart use of visual elements aids in learning and improves training speed and efficiency, allowing the learner to get the info they need quickly, and commit it to memory.
The UI of the training course should feel intuitive and familiar to the user to help them feel situated. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you don’t need to design a training course on how to operate the interface. Keep the user base in mind. Older users and those with certain disabilities will need extra care when designing the interface. Providing multiple methods of viewing content, such as a text alternative to a video, is one example. Making sure the font size and buttons are large enough to click on easily is a must. Avoid flashing images at all costs. Furthermore, if appropriate for the job, the training course should be accessible online and offline on any device. Accessible design makes the training course effective for a wide range of users and situations, allowing everyone equal opportunity to learn.
Putting It All Together
Overall, it’s clear that good UX is imperative to an effective training course. An accessible, well-organized course, combined with a smart use of visual elements makes for an improved learning experience. Good UX has the power to reduce the number of new hires who leave the company due to feeling lost and unsure of their role and value. By applying good UX principles in a training course, the designer can decrease the loss of new hires for the company, thereby saving valuable time and money while reinforcing a positive brand image.