Digital Learning and the Importance of Usability
The needs of users should always be the top concern when it comes to digital solutions. While usability is the most important aspect of any digital solution no matter the product, it’s especially true of digital learning. It won’t matter how many resources the system provides if it’s not easy for learners to use them.
Data security, rich feature lists, and back-end interoperability are all important. But if user experiences are unpleasant because the system is difficult to use and incompatible with the applications they’re accustomed to, then learners won’t engage and the system will fail.
Companies like Netflix and Apple have set a high bar for everyday usability, so learners expect a lot from digital solutions. They expect access to what they want when they want it. User experience is based on the ease of completing tasks and finding content.
Positive experiences facilitate learner adoption and increase engagement. But users are not likely to return for additional learning if they’ve had negative experiences. Nearly one-third of learners don’t find what they need when using their LMS. It’s not surprising then that user experience is a top concern for 80 percent of organizations seeking a new system.
Users generally will notice usability only if there’s an issue. All too often, poor user experiences stem from a vendor’s desire to develop a long list of features while ignoring what users really need. So if your LMS delivers poor user experiences, levels of engagement will be low, learning objectives will be difficult to achieve, and returns on the investment will be minimal.
To meet today’s learning needs, an LMS must support a culture of continuous development and learning. It should provide easily accessible content anywhere, at any time, on any device, for any reason—whether it’s for performance support, compliance training, or ongoing professional development.
Whether you’re an organization representative seeking a new LMS, or an eLearning company or systems integrator searching for a partnership with an LMS provider to deliver top-notch user experiences, here are some important questions you should ask:
• Does the system allow learner access through a consolidated browser and mobile app?
• Can learners quickly access microlearning and eLearning courses and view other digital content, such as PDFs and videos, even offline?
• Does the system provide powerful consumer-grade search and browsing capabilities so learners can easily find things?
• Can administrators and learners complete tasks intuitively and quickly no matter where they are?
• Does the system deliver a personalized learning experience?
• Does the system provide helpful data about learners’ strengths and weaknesses so learning experiences can truly be optimized and personalized?
• Can a range of content that targets individuals or groups of learners be quickly and easily uploaded?
• Can the system deliver external learning activities as well as continuing professional development all in one place?
• Is it possible to upload additional materials to supplement learning activities?
• Is the system truly intuitive, or will learners require instruction on how to use it?
• Does the system help learners understand what they should do next so they can optimize their time and plan accordingly?
Negative user experiences due to poor design are like the kids in the candy store who can’t reach the sweets on the shelves. Avoid unnecessary frustration by making careful choices regarding your next LMS.