I just saw Smashing Magazine’s guide to Web design.and immediately thought that these principles also apply to e-Learning .
- Don’t make users think: You might think I’m crazy right off the bat with this first one but hear me out. Obviously we want our learners to think but we want them to think about the content and not how to navigate and move around and through the course. In the article they even mention “…reducing cognitive overload…”
- Don’t squander users’ patience: This one seems pretty obvious…especially if you’ve broken rule #1 above.
- Manage to focus users’ attention: Use design elements to focus learner attention. For instance “…images are more eye-catching than the text — just as the sentences marked as bold are more attractive than plain text…” — design your materials to take advantage of things like this.
- Strive for feature exposure: Applying this to e-learning means to make sure your audience “gets” the message; that you deliver your message clearly.
- Make use of effective writing: I think this one stands on its own; although I’d add that in the case of e-learning “effective” equates to conversational.
- Strive for simplicity: If this were my list I’d make it #1
- Don’t be afraid of the white space: I’ll quote heavily from the article on this one that “.. it’s really hard to overestimate the importance of white space. ….it helps to reduce the cognitive load for the visitor…” (learner). I’d also move this one higher up on my list.
- Communicate effectively with a “visible language”: They nail this one too; per the article’s reference to papers on effective visual communication by Aaron Marcus there are three fundamental principles involved in the use of the so-called “visible language”:
- Conventions are our friends: ‘…conventions are very useful as they reduce the learning curve, the need to figure out how things work.” which again relates to cognitive load.
- Test early, test often: “usability tests always produce useful results…”; “…a developer is unsuited to test his or her code. This holds for designers as well….”
Now that you’ve made it to the end…do you still think I’m off my rocker or does it also seem to fit for you too?