When I worked for a retail food and beverage company, everything was about the customer—especially what the customer would or wouldn’t like. As an example, to ensure that products met customer expectations, this company spent a good amount of time testing every single recipe before anything made it out the door. And, they followed up with customers to gather feedback once the product made it on the shelves.
Think about your favorite website or mobile app. Is it one of your favorites because it’s so easy to use? Or maybe because it feels like it knows you better than you know yourself? Your eLearning course should have the same effect. That intuitive interface and positive experience are probably due to many, many hours that a User Experience (UX) designer spent creating the app, website or online tool so that you could have a stellar experience.
Learning isn’t any different than enjoying a delicious beverage or using an amazing app: we need to have the user experience (UX) top of mind as we develop eLearning content. We need their help testing it, and we need their feedback once it’s gone live. Formal UX design is a combination of tools and a framework with which you can solve design problems in a methodical way while focusing on the end user of a product or service. But, there are a few simple techniques you can integrate into your process that will help ensure you courses meet end user needs.
Push up your sleeves and put on you learner hat.
Want to know what it’s like to complete an online course if you’re someone who works in a call center and receives constant interruptions? Sit next to an employee in that role, and take the course just as they would…in between calls. Not sure if the system will allow the videos in your module to load promptly? Go onsite and attempt to login and complete the entire course—get firsthand experience regarding how long it takes the video to load. When you’re creating content, it can be easy to get sucked into a vacuum without knowing it. Make sure that once you have content ready that you get out of that vacuum and test how it works from the learner’s point of view.
Invite people to test your courses (before you publish them).
In the case of food and beverages, the company I used to work for conducted a lot of taste tests. Employees were invited to the test kitchen where we sampled products and then rated them based on a variety of factors. Each sample may have been the same beverage, but the test revolved around which recipe delivered the desired effect. As a frequent tester, I can tell you: everything isn’t perfect based on the first recipe.
It’s the same with an eLearning course: chances are, it won’t be perfect the first time around. Implement a “taste test” with your eLearning courses. Create a course, then invite a group of learners (or co-workers) to sample and test your course. Those users—who have a fresh perspective—will help you evaluate the:
- Appropriateness of interactions, images, or characters—do they add or detract from the content?
- Functionality—does everything work as it should?
- Relevance—can someone apply the content to their job?
Designers inherently understand the benefit of focusing on learners and creating compelling learning experiences delivered via an intuitive platform. When you take the time to understand how learners think about a topic, and also experience the learning from their perspective, the content you create becomes even more engaging.
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.