Think about the last time you had a really enjoyable life experience. It could be a fancy dinner out, a hike through the woods on a sunny day, a fabulous weekend out of town, or maybe even an easy commute home from work. Take a moment to pull this experience up in your mind and relive the best parts of it.
Go ahead. I'll wait.
Now think about the elements of the experience that made it so great. What atmospheric characteristics contributed? If you're reliving a good meal in a nice restaurant, chances are the temperature in the room was just right, the background music was by a band you enjoy, fellow diners weren't too loud or distracting, your own dining companion was delightful...
I could go on, but you get the gist. You could be sitting in the nicest restaurant in town, eating a perfectly cooked and plated dish, but you will probably not enjoy your evening if it's too warm in the room and the guy behind you keeps coughing and sneezing.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH E-LEARNING DESIGN?
A lot, actually! You can come up with the most brilliant instructional design, but if your course has cheesy stock photos, an impossibly complex interface, and annoying sound effects, your learners will be distracted. They'll shut down, do what they need to do to get through the thing, and wash their hands of your course as quickly as possible.
An immersive custom e-learning experience that engages your learners and changes behavior requires that you nail all of the details. I've compiled some of our best posts that walk you through the little things you should consider.
1. WHAT DOES ENGAGING E-LEARNING LOOK LIKE?
There are as many answers to this question as there are visual styles. What's important here is to understand the types of media your learners are used to consuming. Here are some posts to help you come up with a design that your learners will find fresh and authentic:
- If you're going to use photos, read these posts first: Authenticity in stock photography and its sequel, Continuing the quest for authentic stock photography.
- Borrow engagement ideas from the movies.
- If any part of your initiative is going the paper route, be sure to consider our design tips for print projects.
- Looks aren't everything. Make sure it sounds beautiful, too.
- And one more post, to help you determine whether the course needs to be on brand.
2. IS IT EASY TO USE?
Intuitive software design is not optional. When your learners spend more time trying to figure out how to work the interface than they do interacting with the content, you have a problem.
- Be sure to design a user interface that's clean, clear, and gives people what they need when they need it
- If you don't have a Learning Management System (LMS), or your LMS doesn't have the features you want, consider a custom portal to deliver and track the training.
- Bookmarking seems like a minor feature, but it's incredibly useful. Is there any chance people will be interrupted during the training experience? (The answer is yes.)
- How do you really know if people are flummoxed by your design? Pilot, pilot, pilot.
3. DO YOU HAVE CREATIVE WRITERS?
This may be a controversial thing to say, but it needs to be said: a great instructional designer is not necessarily a great creative writer. Sure, you can find both skills in one person. But that's a special breed, and there's a good reason that creative writers and instructional designers are 2 (not 1) of the 4 pillars of great e-learning design.
- Creative writers know all about building characters that are authentic, like the individuals your learners might actually encounter in their jobs.
- Find a writing style that's as easy to read as the interface is to use.
- Good writers also know how to ask the right questions.
- And speaking of questions, here's a little tip for better assessments: write strong distractors.
4. ARE PEOPLE BUZZING ABOUT THE COURSE BEFORE IT LAUNCHES?
Get buy-in from day one--stakeholders, colleagues, learners, managers, and anyone else affected by this initiative should be excited about it.
- Just the fact that you're going the custom route will help generate interest from an audience that's used to PowerPoint. Check out our tips for pitching custom e-learning to your stakeholders.
- There are lots of ways to market training to your learners, but in a pinch our top recommendation is nearly always to make a trailer.
- Hey, you might even be able to help your course go viral!
There are a whole lot of other elements that make up a great e-learning course. But if you can nail the details, your learners will love their experience.