In this blog post, I mention nine and half eLearning development tips that could save you time, money, and help your eLearning to be more awesome than it already is. So if you are an eLearning developer or instructional designer, these tips are going to be awesome.
#1. Identify Common Activities and Visuals
When I am handed a storyboard to develop, I first look it over and identify common activities and visuals. These could be eLearning interactions, graphics, quizzes, design elements, etc. Identifying these common elements could save me a lot of development time. I’ll only need to design/develop them one time, as a template and then reuse them again throughout the project.
#2. Seek Design Inspiration
Even the most creative people need to seek inspiration. One of my favorite places to look is stock photo/graphic sites. I usually search for “infographics” and find many excellent color palettes and designs. Here are a couple of good sites: eLearning Stock Library, iStockPhoto, ThinkStock.
#3. Design With Consistency
Be consistent with the use of colors, fonts, text size, borders, logo placement, image treatments, buttons, and everything. Consistency will help your learners interact and navigate your course more easily, and add a greater level of professionalism to your final project. I have also noticed that it decreases development time as I only have to make these decisions on one slide and then just copy for the remaining slides.
#4. Be Organized
Especially if you work on projects with a team, being organized with your files can save a lot of time and headache. Come up with logical naming conventions and folder structures. Makes sure there is a “home” for all of the files for a project. Doing this will not only be useful for current projects but could be even more useful as you may need to revisit the project at a future date.
#5. DesignTo Be Flexible
Sometimes with just a little extra effort, you can build in a few features that may save you a lot of time later. Whether later on the current project or to use in a different project down the road. Let’s say you need to build a five tab interaction for your current project. Why not build a tabbed interaction template that can support 1-7 tabs, with a quick way to remove unneeded tabs? While you’re at it, create the tabs in your software tool so you can easily change the shape and colors. This could prove to be very valuable when find yourself in need tabbed interaction with less or more than seven tabs. Templates… what an excellent time-saving concept.
#6. Code It For Dummies
Usually, there is one awesome developer on a team that seems to be the only one who can make “the impossible” possible. They are the “go-to person” for some tricky code nerdy thing. Wouldn’t it be nice, and more efficient, if they could code “the impossible” to be possible for the rest of us? With just a little more planning, code can be consolidated with some flexibility for the other “less nerdy” developers. Build in some easy ways to change common features and options. This will lessen the bottleneck around the one awesome developer.
#7. Test And Test Again
There are very few things worse than developing out 50 slides based off of one concept, code, or logic only to find out that it doesn’t work on a certain device or platform. Know your device/platform requirements upfront, and test them early on, and throughout your eLearning development.
#8. Provide Source files
Okay, this is one of my pet peeves. When I revisit a project to make edits to a graphic or file, and I can’t find the work files. If you create a graphic in Adobe Photoshop, then please save the Adobe Photoshop work file (.psd). Hopefully, you’ve already implemented step 4 (be organized) and have a folder structure for those files. I hate wasting time recreating things.
#9. Document and Create Tutorials
Sometimes creating a special area to record how you or your team developed things can be very useful. Documenting these things can empower others on your team to learn and sharpen their skills. Also, if you’re like me, you may forget how you coded a game and need a few reminders. I find a simple text doc or video is sufficient.
#9.5 Anticipate The Future
As I develop, I’m always trying to anticipate things to come. Will my course need to be compatible with a different device or new browser? If a rock-star developer on my team left, maybe to join the circus, would I know how to find, edit, and maintain their projects? What if my course content changes next month? Would I ever want to repurpose some of these files in a future project? Asking some of these questions can help you make eLearning development decisions that could save you time moving forward.