How Can Unappealing eLearning Design Hinder The Effectiveness Of Your Online Courses
A common misconception when designing an eLearning course is that content is everything. Although providing learners with useful and evidence-based information that adds value to their development is of utmost importance, you must also keep in mind that eLearning design is key. Does that mean that you can add a few colors and graphics to your course and call it a day? Of course not! Whether you are creating learning experiences for in-house employees, remote teams, or online course registrants, there are some design sins you must be aware of. In this article, we delve into those and offer a few tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your eLearning course.
4 eLearning Design Sins And How They Affect Your Course
What are some of the things developers get wrong when designing eLearning courses? Here are 4 design sins and how they impact the effectiveness of your course.
Doing too much
In an effort to create visually appealing training courses, instructors often cram too many elements into each slide. However, colors, animations, and graphics stacked on top of each other will only overwhelm learners and cause them to disengage entirely. The same goes for content. Although it is understandable that you want to provide learners with as much information as possible, blocks of text or links upon links are not the way to go. If users have to filter through a ton of information when they open an eLearning page, they will become overwhelmed and find it near impossible to retain any of it.
Not setting goals
A training course is a step forward in the professional development of any employee, and that is the way it must be presented. Many eLearning courses get into the content without explaining the overall purpose of training. Or, they only do it in the beginning. However, as time passes, learners tend to deviate from their main goal and lose interest. If your eLearning design doesn’t utilize achievements, badges, etc., to remind employees why they are there, it is very possible you’ll have to deal with low completion rates or learning that fades after a few weeks.
Another element that drives learners away is passive eLearning courses. You know the kind; all theory and no practice. However, you can’t say you have designed a comprehensive eLearning course if all you do is present information in one way or another. Training programs are supposed to be interactive, allowing learners to practice what they learn through exercises, quizzes, or simulations. When these elements are missing, learners quickly lose interest and become disengaged. They are also denied access to resources and tools that help them absorb, retain, and recall new concepts.
Sending out the wrong message
The main characteristic of a well-designed eLearning course is the ability to communicate a simple and clear message to learners. Unfortunately, this message sometimes gets lost in our need to provide learners with as much information as possible. This leads to muddled concepts that fail to effectively educate learners due to the use of too many words. A final thing to keep in mind is that an eLearning course is a reflection of your company. The choices you make while designing it should directly align with your company values. Otherwise, this could hurt the authenticity as well as the reliability of your business.
3 Tips To Correct Your eLearning Design Mistakes
If you have detected signs of bad design in your eLearning course or you’re preparing for your first-ever design, here are 3 tips you can use to set you on the right path.
1. Map out content structure
A good eLearning design takes thought. So, instead of opening your authoring tool and getting to work right away, take some time to decide how you want to map out your content. Usually, a good way to go about that is using a storyboard to help you visualize the order and purpose of each slide. As a result, you will know beforehand what material needs to be added to each slide. This technique helps you achieve consistency throughout your course.
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2. Replace outdated content
In the world of fast information, it only makes sense that some of your material becomes outdated after a while. Therefore, stay on top of research and make sure that your training course always contains up-to-date information. But outdated content can also include images and graphics that don’t serve their purpose anymore. Change overused stock photos with your own or look for more original stock libraries. Also, align your graphics with your brand image to create a sense of cohesion in all things pertaining to and representing your business.
3. Streamline navigation
If you want to create an educational, easy-to-navigate, and engaging eLearning course, repetition is your ally. Of course, you don’t want to repeat everything, as that will make the training course dull. But a consistent frame of design will make it cohesive and facilitate learners to identify patterns that help them navigate more easily, know where to find information, as well as organize and recall it more effectively.
Less Is More…
Training courses can sometimes seem like a challenge to learners who are trying to decode and study new concepts to add value to their professional development. This is why you don’t want to make their work even harder. If you fill their screen with clashing colors, flashy graphics, and too much text, they won’t be able to make any sense of the information or absorb any of it. Try to achieve a balance where all elements complement each other and create a complete and cohesive message. If you want to create your own online eLearning course, take a look at iSpring’s comprehensive guide.
If you want to know more about the effect good eLearning design has on the long-term success of eLearning courses, read the following success stories:
- SgtGodoy.com increases customer satisfaction by upgrading their prep test courses
- Cyberlab creates an engaging ePlatform for the Ministry of Education in Costa Rica
- ALLO Communications boosts learner performance with upgraded and insightful training courses
Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry Inc, the leading publishing platform that’s on a mission to democratize the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU.