It took us four years to develop a concept into a product. The concept is to make learning simple and straight forward. No “nice-to-knows”, just “the facts ma’am”. We wanted to build a platform that would make it easy to design short impactful learning experiences. What we discovered was a whole lot of additional challenges that have to be met in order to create a website that was user-friendly.
Here’s some of the challenges we had to meet and conquer.
- Most users have other things to do. The goal of most users whether authors (training designers) or learners is not to spend all their time on a website. It’s about “let’s do what I came for and get off to do something else.”
- Users come to our site in “doing mode”. They’re not in ‘reading” mode; they’re in ‘doing’ mode. Our training modlettes need to be designed for doing, video, learning quizzes, and slide shares. Not a lot of reading and page turning that sounded the death knoll of the original eLearning.
- Users rely on patterns. We kept changing our layouts as we realised the importance of people being able to easily recognise the facilities that were available and how to use them.
- All users of the site have a million other things competing for their attention. Even while you are reading this article, other things you should be doing are flitting through your mind. We always worked towards a clear, deliberate, one-step-at-a-time process in the task flow for both authors and users. We needed to be conscious at all times of what the user wants to accomplish. Both the design process and the learning process have been serialised to make them easy to use. Our aim was to make sure the tasks were made “finishable”.
- We have tested to make sure that what we have put on the screen is what the user thinks we’ve put on the screen. During the testing period we were surprised at how few times this happened.
- We wanted to improve the lives of our users. We wanted to make learning easy and the design of learning simple and uncomplicated. In all our years of classroom training we were well aware that people no longer have time or inclination to sit in a classroom all day and listen to some guru tell them a whole lot of stuff they didn’t really need to know to do their jobs. People want to “cut to the chase”; what do I have to know to be good at my job.
- And the last big realisation. The user experience is the net sum of all the interactions and impressions and feelings a person has with a website. Your users are affected by your reputation, what other people say, they’re affected by what the website looks like and how easy it is to get around. They’re affected by their mood on the day they see it for the first time, they’re affected by the learning experience and what they can achieve from this and how frustrated they are by other similar products that have failed to do what they promised.
By all measures the site www.modlettes.com has been a great learning experience for us and still continues to be a work in progress. We look forward to all the feedback we get from new users so jump on board and author your own modlette.