Online Learning Design: Dos and Don'ts

Designing Digitally


An online learning program is only as good as the design. A good design is powerful enough to make or break the elearning experience. Games are judged on first impressions, which is one of the reasons why a poorly-designed game probably won’t make it off the starting block.

Making a good first impression is important, but it isn’t the only reason online learning design must be done well. There are some definite dos and don’ts involved in creating an effective and successful learning experience that will turn employees into assets for their companies.

Dos and don’ts

These are some common mistakes that can derail a game design.

  • Don’t use boring or meaningless headlines. Don’t skip a headline! When a headline is absent, doesn’t make sense to a user, or fails to grab their attention, they can be lost for good. They may not even want to give the activity a try.
  • Do use headlines that will grab players’ attention.
  • Don’t use irrelevant images. Don’t stick a photo that vaguely relates to the topic into the game, just to add an image. This can be distracting to the player and take their focus off of what they should be focusing on. Don’t confuse them by making them waste time trying to figure out what an arbitrary picture means.
  • Do choose images that directly relate to the topic.
  • Don’t make learners speculate as to what information is important. Players don’t want to have to guess what they are supposed to do during an activity. An aesthetically pleasing game doesn’t do its job, if the user can’t figure out what’s going on.
  • Do use a visual hierarchy. Use visual cues, like positioning, to draw the player’s eyes where they should go and in what order.
  • Don’t focus on one device. Today’s learners will expect that they can begin an activity on their desktop at work and continue on their smartphone from another location. If they don’t have that option, they may decide to not utilize the game at all, because they may feel like they are being inconvenienced just to complete the activity.
  • Do design an elearning activity that is accessible on a variety of devices.
  • Don’t put too much text on one screen. One way to quickly turn off a player is to overwhelm them with an activity that is too visually busy. Giving them more than they need will result in the most important content getting lost in the mix.
  • Do streamline so only the most important elements are included.

A few more online learning design tips

To have the best designed learning experience possible, consider some of these guidelines:

  • Simplify. Less is more. Make sure each and every element included is vital to the learning objectives.
  • Be consistent. Stick with the same color schemes throughout. Every change should have a purpose and not be random.
  • Make navigation easy. This one speaks for itself. Make sure the navigation buttons are easy to find and use.

Online learning design can have a huge impact when these dos, don’ts and tips are followed!

Designing Digitally, Inc. and their experienced team of developers can help your company avoid these pitfalls and develop an online learning program that will improve productivity and increase your bottom line.