These are 5 design mistakes to avoid in your e-learning

Ten seconds. That is the time you need to make a first impression. This is true for everyday life, but also for your e-learning courses. The users of your online training want to learn something, and have the active intention to do so as well, but they have already formed an opinion of the training when they have yet to read the first letter of the course. It is therefore important to ensure that there are no design mistakes on the page, so you can make the right impact on your users. These are 5 items that you can easily avoid.


1. Titles without meaning

If your user is immediately thrown into the middle of your text without a title that explains to them why it is important they read this, you miss a massive chance of a good first impression. Your user wants to know, ‘what’s in it for me?’ Using a clearly visible, descriptive title will give your users a sense of the goal and the value of the learning material. 


While you know exactly what the module is about, your users have no clue. Not making use of any headline(s) can evoke feelings of confusion and frustration for your users, which messes up the first impression as there is no clear reason for them to continue reading. 


Using any headline is better than using none at all. Of course it is even better when the title or headline is bold, appealing and attracts attention. This can be achieved by responding to the needs of your user. For example, the headline ‘Customer service’ is far less inviting than ‘How to deal with an angry customer on the phone.’ The second title prompts the reader to think: ‘Hey, I can do something with this,’ because it describes a situation in which they can find themselves as well.


2. Images with no connection to your content

No matter how beautiful or cool a photo is, if it is not relevant for the content, it will only distract your users. A fun image can make a page more aesthetically pleasing, but relevancy comes first. 


Your user pays attention to images that contain useful information, but will ignore ones that are solely used to improve the look of the screen. If any of these images get noticed at all, they might lead to frustration when the user tries to figure out how the particular image is tied to the content.


3. Information doesn't get priority

The structure of the content of your e-learning needs to be easy to navigate. Trendy looks and funny puns to make your learning environment look attractive mean nothing when users are unable to find what they are looking for. 


To make it a bit easier, you should make your design blend in a natural way. You want your user to notice the essential information first and then continue reading the rest of the material in order of importance.


You can accomplish this by using a visual hierarchy and by adding design elements that lead your users to the main points. Colour, font, spacing, and colour contrast can help you with this. If you give all the content the same looks, your user will not be able to distinguish what should be read first, as everything (or nothing) looks important.


4. Your design does not work on all devices

Your user expects to be able to view all the courses on every possible device, whenever they need to. If they open an online training on their smartphone and need to zoom in to read the text, it will not be appealing to read the rest of the material (see blog: this is how you write for online readers). With the current possibilities of responsive templates, this is easily avoidable! 


5. Discouraging pieces of text

It can be tempting to give as much information as possible about a topic, but unless it truly helps your user to understand what they need to know, it will not be useful information. Your goal is to teach the user to become better at their job, not to overwhelm them with random facts and an excess of information.


Screens containing massive paragraphs of text also discourage the user to start reading and learning in the first place. With a few basic design principles you can avoid this pitfall, without it harming the content. 


While aesthetic attraction is significant; ‘less is more’ is often the best standpoint. Make sure that all of the elements that you add are aimed at improving the learning environment of your users.