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Importance of User Experience in eLearning

Remember that time when Windows 8 was launched and suddenly the Microsoft Operating System that we all were accustomed had shape shifted to something complex and perplexing. While the upgrade had many improvements in terms of performance, functionalities and features, the user interface was completely new and even regular users found it hard to get adjusted to, and the occasional users probably never got used to it and by the time they did Windows 10 was launched.

The primary reason for dissatisfaction in case of windows 8 was the interface. While it was created to give an app like structure, most users found it to be too confusing to use. Which brings us to the point- 'user interface is of critical importance'. Period. Goes without saying that it applies for eLearning too. How do the learners focus on a text heavy eLearning course, and how much does it engage them?

While Instructional design is crucial as the entire content arrangement, flow and even the design elements depends on how well the process is handled. However as discussed in the post, Does Instructional Design Outdo Visual Design, UI design is equally important. But why?

  • Engagement
    The interface is usually the first thing that the learners notice after logging into a course. In other words, it creates the first impression and so it should be able to attract the leaners, and the introduction should be such that the learners be pulled into the course. Uniformity, uniqueness and relevance are the three key factors which drives the engagement.
  • Interaction
    As mentioned earlier, design of the program too influences the user experience. The content should be simple and designed so to inspire the users interact with it. In such cases the ease of use of the UI, the innovation used etc. increases interaction and hence, the course completion rates increase.
  • Satisfaction
    Ever played a game? The whole experience is usually hinged on how well we are able to navigate through, utilize the controls to our advantage, the graphics used. The impact of good UI is similar too. When the learners are able to navigate through and explore the course easily, there is level of satisfaction and so is the level of retention as they enjoy what they learn.

The user interface should hence, highly focus on the usability aspect too. As mentioned in the post - The Equation of Great Instructional Design Strategy, "The GUI should be appealing, consistent and relay the organization's brand identity."

According to Joyce Lee, Human Factors Design at Apple, "Usability answers the question, "Can the user accomplish their goal?’" And as Maximo Castagno puts it, "Ensuring that employees are interested in your brand, enthusiastic, and invested in its success is key to growth. Workers are your most important assets, especially in a knowledge-based environment where fresh ideas and creativity are essential. Keeping your colleagues engaged and interested in their company with a great UX will not only make their working environment more enjoyable, but also get the best out of them."

So, what do you think? Is the UI important? Does it really make a difference?

Do share your thoughts.

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