Why User Interface Design In eLearning Is More Important Than You Think

How it can affect learner engagement and what to do about it

User Interface Design

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When building a learning management system (LMS), it can be easy to get swept away with burying yourself in content which will engage and inspire your learners – and forgetting the importance of User Interface (UI) Design.

And, if you’re not sure what that is, it’s basically all about how learners interact with your LMS – an area that can easily be overlooked when you’re trying to get the content right.

We recently asked 200 learners what was most important to them when learning online, and 194 of them – that’s 97%! – said the platform being user friendly was very important.

97% of learners say a user friendly learning platform is very important.

Essentially, UI Design is taking things beyond a simple colour scheme, putting yourself in the user’s metaphorical shoes and considering how they are experiencing your platform. As the stats above suggest, it’s an important part of the learning j.

Here, we’ll explain exactly why that is.

What Is User Interface Design?

UI Design is all about how your user is interacting with your software or technology – whether that’s through a website, application, or LMS.

Essentially, it’s the digital face of your whole platform, feeding into the user experience.

And, from how it looks and feels to how it actually works, it all comes down to how much planning has gone into the UI design in the first place.

For example, a key area of UI design involves planning how your learners can move around the platform. Is it easy for them to find the modules they need? Is the navigation clear and can they easily action what they need to do with the click of a few (or hopefully less) buttons?

Every interaction can have an impact on your learner’s motivation and their perception of the online learning environment. In fact, one study has indicated that interfaces devoid of clear navigation and filled with ambiguous instructions will distract student learning.

 So, instead, you need to make sure that their experience feeds into their motivation, strengthens their engagement and keeps them coming back for more.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the key things you’ll need to think about.

The Layout

You might be someone who loves working through complicated software – but it’s really important to think about your learner here.

Are they familiar with computers or are they just getting to grips with working on an LMS? You need to make sure your system is simple to digest, without over-the-top layouts for clear visual communication.

This could be by using things like space and separators to highlight where key information is, or perhaps through infographics that clearly demonstrate what’s being described in the copy around it.

Also, by re-using layouts for similar content types (for example, the same layout each time there is a quiz or an assessment), your user will quickly get to grips with what type of content they are going to be engaging with and be able to subconsciously prepare themselves for that.

Navigation

We’ve already touched on navigation above but it’s crucial to emphasise that this is one of the most important parts of your learner’s journey.

Because, after all, if they can’t find the module they need – how can they finish the course?

By simplifying the navigation, you can ensure users stay focused on the learning content through intuition, rather than focusing on the confusion around where to go next.

Essentially, your learner isn’t trying to decipher a code in order to complete the course, so don’t create an experience that makes it feel like they are.

If you’re not sure whether your navigation is clear enough, start with a map and then get a few people to test it out while you’re creating it, so you can easily spot any problems as you go along.

Instructions

When it comes to answering multiple choice questions, incorporating gamification or asking your learner to do something other than just read content, you’ll want to make sure that instructions are simple and easy to follow.

A good rule to follow is that if you’ve found you’ve had to write more than a sentence about what they need to do, it could be too complicated.

Keep instructions short and sweet, without any of the ambiguity. They’ll thank you for it later.

Leaving It To The Experts

This is just a simple guide to the very basics of what you’ll need to think about when it comes to UI design for your LMS.

The good news is that we can help.

You can read more about our approach to UI design right here – and if you think we’re the team you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to get in touch.