In a previous post I talked about why should schools focus on visual elements and user experience instead of features when selecting an LMS. The reason for this is quite simple. Teachers want to achieve the best results from students even on subjects that are information heavy and not that appealing to them. How can they do this? By including as much visual and interactive elements as possible in the learning process.
Technology makes things a lot easier because nowadays most schools use some sort of LMS to organize their learning activities and make learning more interesting for their students. However, when schools go through the process of selecting an LMS, they usually get very hung up on the feature side and ignore the user experience of the LMS. Features are important of course, but I do believe that the same level of importance should be given to aspects such as how easy to use the LMS is, if teachers and students will enjoy spending time in it, and so on.
Now, this is just one side of the story. Even if there are schools that want their LMS to be as intuitive and engaging as possible, they might have some trouble finding one. Why you may ask?
Well, although there are plenty of vendors that describe their products as being user friendly, sometimes that is nowhere near the truth. When it comes down to defining the design of an LMS, terms such as intuitive, easy to use, responsive, and many others tend to mean a different thing to each vendor. But they shouldn’t, right? There should be some standards that each vendor should follow before labeling their LMS user friendly.
5 things to consider when it comes to LMS design
If you do a quick search online, you will find a ton of information about what it means for example to have an intuitive user interface. Most of the data is already there and waiting for vendors to use it. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We’re talking about design principles that can be applied in any field.
Nonetheless, this post is about LMSs, so here are 5 ways to make an LMS more visual and intuitive:
Have a simple navigation structure. Every action in an LMS needs to be done with just a few clicks and every feature has to be easy to configure. Students and teachers should not go on a treasure hunt just to find a video resource in a class.
Make it visual and graphical. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, visual elements are important in learning, so use this to your advantage. Every item in an LMS that can be more graphical and colorful - make it that way! Add nice colors that complement each other, add pictures and images, make icons colored wherever possible, and so on. Just don’t go overboard; simple and clean is what we’re going for here.
Avoid clutter. Most people find it easier to work with any system when everything is neat and properly aligned. Nobody wants to look all day at an LMS with an interface where a pop-up shows up every other minute or an LMS that is text heavy and doesn’t have a good balance between elements.
Make it responsive. This as an obvious one, but seriously there cannot still be systems that don’t render well on mobile devices when most teachers and students use at least two devices each day.
Sprinkle some fun. Add fun elements like gamification, make things pop wherever it’s possible and looks pleasant to the eyes, and include visuals that animate nicely.
Every detail counts, whether it’s making sure your LMS looks as good on mobile devices as it does in browser, deciding what color palette to use for the interface, or where a button should be positioned. These design decisions can be the ones that make or break a product, especially now when everything in e-learning is moving towards a more visual approach.
Is there anything I missed from the list? Let me know in the comments section below.