If you want to design great e-learning, your design methodology must start from this belief: the user is important.

The user experience should be at the heart of all design decisions. Overall, if your goal is to create a highly usable and engaging e-learning course, you must design with the user in mind.

Here are a few quick and simple ways to ensure that you are always thinking about the user experience.

Be Consistent

Make it easy for your users to navigate your e-learning. This way, they are spending time learning the content, not figuring out how to work the course. Friction comes from things like lack of clear direction, poor instructions, and difficult interactions that don’t add value.

So, create consistent navigation throughout the e-learning course:

  • Buttons, call-outs, highlight boxes, etc. should be consistent in their location.
  • The learner shouldn’t have to guess how to interact with the content. Be sure that navigation controls and prompts are properly explained to the learner.
  • Create a template so all courses look and function the same.

Be Understanding of Your Learners’ Time

Think about the learner’s time commitment to this learning experience:

  • Be sure to provide controls that enable the learner to exit quickly and resume the experience where they left off.
  • Provide a progress bar or indicator of how much of it is completed/remains.

Creating a template of how your courses will look and function will help you as the course developer and the learner. It will make it quicker for you to design the course and easier for the learner to digest the finished product.

Know Your Learners

Although there are numerous SCORM-compliant tools for designing e-learning, a few design questions need to be answered before selecting the design tool. The answer will help you create a better user experience.

When designing your storyboard for the course, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will the learner access content: mobile or desktop?
  • Have we set appropriate expectations so learners have a clear understanding of what is required of them?
  • Can we chunk the courses into smaller, more easily consumable learning modules? Dividing a long course into units that are too small can also frustrate users. It’s important to strike the right balance between keeping the units small and digestible and still having them at a reasonable length to make the number of units manageable.
  • Does the content design/type work for the target learner?
  • Could video be an effective learning format for our audience? If so, how will we incorporate it into our courses?

You know your industry and your learners. Make sure you aren’t leaving them on the cutting room floor.

Don’t Surprise the Learner

As a training provider, you cannot control the client’s internal communication practices or failures, but you can advise them of best practices. Setting the end-user population’s expectations around an e-learning program launch and delivery goes a long way toward achieving successful deployment. The following strategies will empower the learner, increase completion rates, and decrease support calls:

  • Set learner expectations. This can be as simple as some form of internal communication, such as an email from their manager advising that they will soon receive a welcome message from the learning management system (LMS) to take online training. This email can also let the learners know how much of a time commitment they are expected to invest.
  • Inform clients that the LMS can automatically send reminder emails to users, such as when a new course is assigned or when a course is due.
  • Provide learners with direction on:
    • How to access the LMS
    • How to launch courses
    • How to navigate training
  • Use the course description to your advantage:
    • Tell the learners why they are taking the course.
    • Add key support details, such as whom learners should contact if they have issues.
  • Completion notifications should:
    • Make it clear to a user that they have completed their required training and list next steps, if applicable.
    • Provide easy access to completion certificates.

Know What to Do after Course Delivery

Don’t forget about the importance of evaluating your courses. Course evaluation can be done using the reports built into the LMS. When reviewing reports, make sure to look for things that can inform you of the user experience:

  • Monitor completions, and develop a plan to follow up with users who have not completed the required training.
  • Look for abandoned courses (courses that are In Progress longer than necessary).
  • Use interaction data reports or assessment reports to review how users are answering specific quiz questions.
  • Analyze results to determine what works and what doesn’t. Use this information to improve content on subsequent updates.


Adult learners take training for different reasons, so when designing training for adults, you need to make sure it is user-centric. Many things can impact the user experience in e-learning. To create a positive experience, remember to:

  • Create a template for all your e-learning courses. Also, the courses in the same series should all look and function the same.
  • Be mindful of the learner’s time. Design the course so they can exit quickly and resume the course from where they last left off.
  • Take the time to know your learners. How do they learn best? What is their working environment like? Don’t leave them out of key design decisions.
  • Don’t surprise the learner; use the LMS to tell them key information about the course.
  • Empower the learner by giving them the tools that they need to complete and troubleshoot the course. This will help increase completion and decrease support calls.
  • Lastly, use the reports within the LMS to your full advantage. Use them to monitor completions and determine if there are any issues with the courses.

Ask yourself this question after designing every course: “Would I take this course?

Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.

Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!