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Nearly everyone has attempted to navigate through a website with confusing, non-intuitive menus and buttons. It’s frustrating, to say the least. It’s even more of a problem when there are important things to do, or you’re on a deadline, and it isn’t clear how to do accomplish what you need to.
The user interface of an app, website, or elearning game can make it or break it. Yes, it’s that important. Elearning providers can hit a homerun with the right user interface. On the other hand, they can strike out with one that’s poorly designed.
A good user interface for an elearning game includes three basic components:
A location. Where is this game taking place? Whether it’s on the moon or in an office, the learner should be engrossed in the environment of the game. Don’t ignore the button and menu options, which should blend with the rest of the artwork and overall design.
Feedback. The player needs to know if their choices are good or bad, right or wrong. A good user interface will be responsive to the user’s choices.
User control. The user interface should give the player a sense of power. They should be able to see an immediate response whenever they click a button or make a move.
Keeping these factors at the forefront of user interface design will ensure the game is effective and will provide a positive experience for the player.
On the other side of the coin, there some specific things that elearning providers should avoid when designing games.
Avoid a messy display. Keep in mind that a learning game doesn’t allow for the same amount of playing time as a regular video game. Users shouldn’t have to look too hard for what they need to successfully play the game. The user interface for an elearning game should be uncomplicated and direct.
Don’t provide too many options. Don’t confuse the player by giving them too many choices. Keep things simple and don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary frills.
As elearning providers are designing games, they should always consider who the game is for. A game that is going to be used by sales executives in a corporate environment would look different than a game whose primary audience is workers in the medical field.
Think about the purpose of the game. For example, if the reason for the training is to teach someone to use an Automated External Defibrillator, the history of medicine isn’t relevant. Always keep the objectives in mind when designing the user interface.