Tools and Best Practices to Improve Your eLearning Website User Experience

By Caroline March-Long, VP of Sales and Marketing at Scitent

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One key facet to our business here at Scitent is to provide web design services for our partners’ online learning portals. An optimized user experience is crucial to helping learners find the courses they need and leads to higher sales/conversions for online course offerings.

User experience design (UXD) is the multi-faceted process of optimizing all interactions that a consumer has with every aspect of your company’s website. Because there is tremendous value in following UXD principles, our work is built on a solid foundation of the following techniques and best practices:

Conduct Research
Take the time to interview key stakeholders and potential users. Also, perform an analysis to discover what your competition is doing well and any pitfalls you want to avoid. This is the time to ask questions that will inform into the creative brief and help establish a clear marketing messaging.

Create a Design Brief
Include in this document information like branding, design preferences, target audiences, user personas, your messaging/story, and the overall look and feel you envision for your site.

Develop a Sitemap
The sitemap serves as the “skeleton” of your website. You can think of the sitemap as an organization chart for your site, presented in a flowchart style. Once the sitemap has been approved, it will drive the content map – an outline of all content on each page of your website.

Build Your Content Outline
Creating a content outline up front means less time wasted designing and building templates and functionality that don’t fit your actual content. The page-by-page outline of content defines the intent of, and target audience for, each page. The content outline also guides design by indicating the amount of copy and the type of supporting art to be included on each page.

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Style tile example, courtesy of Storyware

Establish Your Visual “Language”
Style tiles are the design language of a website. While these do not define layout, they do set the tone for your color scheme, presentation of brand elements, typography, buttons and visual patterns. Front-end developers appreciate a thorough style tile that conveys the designer’s intent.

Discover the Ideal Layout with Wireframes and Hi-Fi Comps
Wireframes save time and money because they catch layout and functionality issues before you spend hours perfecting pixels. Then, you can move on to a more visual hi-fi comp with links to mimic the UX. Once your hi-fi comps are approved, you can work with your developers to begin to lay out the content and functionality of pages.

Mobile First
Because more and more users are working on mobile platforms, it’s essential to consider mobile functionality first. Working from the smallest device upward forces you to work in a lean, efficient manner and, as a result, larger format presentations will be cleaner and your user experience will stay optimized.

Quality Assurance
Test, test and then test some more. Run a complete functionality and performance test across all popular browsers and devices. Slow page speeds, for example, will impact UX and your SEO will take an unnecessary hit. It should come as no surprise that it’s better to catch problems in QA rather than wonder about the effects after roll-out.

Want to learn more about how Scitent can help with your UXD? Contact us today.

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