eLearning Design

Tired of having developers come to you with questions? Better yet, tired of being in the middle of developing your work when you realize you didn’t think something through or document it? Time to get proactive with eLearning Design! Here is a comprehensive checklist of things you should be thinking through and documenting for each page of your course design. If you need a storyboard template, download our Free Instructional Design Storyboard Template!

Visual Design Elements

• Which elements of your page are visible when the page loads?

• Which elements of your page are going to come in at a later time? How will they be triggered (after the user clicks something, after the user answers a question correctly or incorrectly, after a certain number of seconds, in sync with narrative messages, etc.)? Document specific instructions that make this clear, and create separate audio script names as necessary so that it’s clear which clip plays with a certain event.

• If you have a complicated set of animation for a slide, consider putting a small number on each element of your storyboard screen to make clear the order that they appear in.

• Create a mock-up of the page. Use images, shapes, colors, or anything else necessary to communicate the message. If the storyboard is for a client, you may want to spend more time developing the visual look to ensure it’s as representative as possible of the final product, which will save you a lot of time in re-work during development.

• Make a list of images that need to be obtained, edited, or created  in order to produce the slide. Include example images in your storyboard to remind yourself or for the developer to reference to ensure the visuals are on target. This list should include links or image codes for download.

• If your screen contains many complicated state changes, you may want to use additional storyboard slides to map them out. This allows everyone to see how the new content/visuals will work when they get to the stage.

Audio Elements

• Include an audio script for the narration, sound effects, and character dialogue on the page.

• Include detailed instructions for when these clips should be played and what action by the user triggers them to play.

• Will the user need to hear the audio more than once? If so, how will you account for that in the design? Do additional buttons need to be added to the play bar, does a “Replay” button need to be included on the slide?

• Include a parenthetical direction [Mark, sounding gruff and frustrated] for your script or narrative. For example, if a customer is responding to the learner’s decision, should they sound enthusiastic? Should they sound bored?

• What sound effects might add to the interaction? Should a positive tone sound when the learner makes the correct decision, for example? Be careful not to go overboard on sound effects.

Functionality Decisions

• Your storyboard notes should include some type of linear notation as to what happens when the slide first loads, what the user will do to interact with the slide, and what will happen depending on how the user chooses to interact. It may also include what the user needs to do before moving on.

• Note all elements that are “displayed” and when or how this should happen.

• Once an element has displayed, will it disappear or stay?

• Note all elements that are meant to be interacted with and how.

• When elements are interacted with, what behavior should the user see?

• Will anything on the page reset after being interacted with? For example, after the user answers a question incorrectly, will it reset and allow them to try again? If the user returns to this page later on, will they be able to try again or will their previous answer be saved?

• Once something is interacted with, should its state change? (Should it gray out, should a checkmark appear over it, should it disappear, etc.)

• Document multiple possible outcomes for a single interaction. For example, if the user clicks a certain button the first time, what should happen? And if they click a second time, does the same thing happen or does something different happen? One of the main disconnects between instructional design and development is that instructional designers don’t think through the “what-ifs” of user behavior and instead choose only to map out what will happen if the user behaves exactly the way the ID predicts they will with the page. Think through what the user COULD do with the elements on the screen, whether they should or not, and make sure you have thought through how the page will respond to that interaction. Otherwise, these unaccounted-for design choices end up as bugs in the final product.

• Will variables need to be used in the course? If so, create those variable names in your storyboard and specify how and when they will be modified based upon user behavior or results.

Navigation Design

• What happens if the user tries to click the forward arrow from this page but has not interacted with it?

• What happens if the user tries to return to the previous screen from this page?

• In a storyboard, the previous “slide” may not represent the actual previous “page” the learner would see in the product — leave notes that make it clear how your linear storyboard branches in the background or skips slides.

• Can the user use a table of contents from this page to navigate away? If so, can they only return to a place they have already been, or can they go anywhere in the course they would like?

Knowledge Assessment Functionality

• How many questions will be in the test?

• Will each question provide instant feedback, no feedback at all, or feedback only after the test is over and the result is displayed?

• If feedback is provided, how detailed will that feedback be? Will it include the right answer or simply a correct/incorrect message?

• Should the learner be able to see all the questions and answers at the end of the test, or just their score?

• What are the passing score requirements?

• How many retakes can the user have?

• Can the user immediately retake the test, or must they retake the entire course?

• Will the quiz answers be saved and displayed to the user when they re-attempt the question?

• Can the user navigate backwards in the test, and if so can they change their answer?

Special Notes

• If the course is 508 compliant, document 508-compliant instructions like what the alt tags should be named or how functionality should be modified or compatible with 508.

• If the course is also meant to display on a mobile device, document how the page design might need to be modified in order to best display or function with a mobile device. You may also want to check out our Free Responsive Storyboard Template to help with mocking up mobile views of your course slide.

• If a client or stakeholder has requested something specific on a page, make a special note of it so that it doesn’t get lost or changed as the course moves through production.

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