“Design is a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints” – Wikipedia
The power of good design
Most of you have probably wondered at some point why things are made the way they are. Why chairs have the shape that they have, and why cars for example have conserved pretty much the same structure since they were invented.
The answer to these questions is hidden in the Wikipedia definition above. We design things with a precise goal and environment in mind. This means that the chair you are sitting on has that shape because it was the best way to achieve the goal it was built for: making you comfortable (changes in price usually determine how comfortable you will be in the end!). Obviously there can be improvements as research, use or experience and fashion kick-in, but the main take-away is that we design things in order to have a good User Experience or UX.
This concept can be applied to a great many things – from fashion to mass production, from production to software. When talking about Learning Management Systems this means making sure that the learner is free to learn without distractions, and without having to make any effort to navigate the platform in order to focus one hundred percent on learning.
Welcome to mobile
Naturally as technology advances and more devices are released, design has to evolve accordingly. With almost two billion smartphones circulating in the world it is now necessary to think about our software, how it interacts with this kind of interface and what the final experience for the user will be, which, in the end, is the most important part of your product.
I will now highlight 4 key reasons why training developed for desktops fail on smartphones and tablets:
- Screen resolution:
It is pretty obvious that mobile devices have a completely different screen resolution from a desktop. Forcing a user to continuously zoom in or out of your content, platform or website will have a significant effect on user experience. You can choose different approaches to fix this issue. You can either go responsive and make sure your content adapts to the screen resolution, or you can create a dedicated app. The second way obviously takes more time, but will give you a better user experience.
- Different interactions:
Raise your hand if you have a touch screen! Sometimes it might be not so easy to write a text without typos, but believe me you really don’t want to go back to a cell-phone filled with buttons.A good designer should always consider the way a user interacts with the device, therefore taking touch screen interactions into account is an extremely powerful tool to make mobile users feel at home. Moreover digital and mobile natives nowadays grow up with Apps and smartphones and are used to scrolling, tapping, swiping and other gestures, so denying them these kinds of interactions will result in a frustrating experience.
Connectivity is a technical issue. When sitting comfortably in our office or at home, a wifi connection is pretty standard. But what happens when we go mobile? When using a smartphone or a tablet you will probably have a 3G connection, 4G if you are very lucky, or no connection if you’re not so lucky.Once again the designer’s job is to take into account all these little factors that influence the way a user interacts with your software. In this respect it will be important to make sure your content is sufficiently compressed, to make sure your users don’t use all of their 3G connection to download a simple slide deck for example.
We don’t use smartphones and tablets because they’re cute. We use smartphones and tablets because these allow us be on the move. That’s why these are called mobile devices. A good user experience also takes into account environmental factors such as bright sunny days or shadowy rooms, long train trips or short bus commutes. For example: chunked learning is perfect for mobile. Creating smaller pieces of content will make sure that your users will be able to learn even during their morning journey to the workplace. Finding the right “chunk” of learning on-demand, optimized for the devices they use is key.
In the end you always have to think about the issues and challenges that your learners will experience while trying to navigate your platform or course and I hope that now it will be a little clearer why content developed for a desktop experience will most certainly fail on mobile devices.
One of Docebo’s key strengths is its awesome design thanks to all the time we spent trying to anticipate the various issues your end users might face, even on mobile devices. If you want to check out how we approach the mobile experience, why don’t you test out the Docebo LMS for yourself with this 14-day free trial 🙂