Utilising UX Design Laws to Optimise E-Learning Courses
The most effective e-learning courses are developed using learning experience design (LXD) principles. LXD is a combination of instructional design and (UX) design. Instructional design focuses on achieving learning outcomes while UX design focuses on ensuring the experience of users is as enjoyable, smooth, and hassle-free as possible.
In previous blog posts, we’ve covered a range of instructional design concepts and theories that can be used to optimise e-learning courses. Examples include Merrill’s Principles of Instruction, the ADDIE Instructional Design Model, and Bloom’s Taxonomy.
What about UX theories and concepts? The following eight UX laws can be used during e-learning development projects to ensure the experience of learners is as good as possible.
8 UX Laws and How They Apply to E-Learning Design
The idea behind Jacob’s Law is that it is easier for users to navigate and interact with a design if it’s based on well-established patterns and structures. For example, under Jacob’s Law, website designers should ensure the sites they design work in ways that are familiar to users based on their experiences with other websites.
This can be applied to e-learning courses by ensuring the structure, navigational elements, and other components of the design are familiar to users. In other words, e-learning design is not about striving for cutting-edge uniqueness.
Hick’s Law says the time it takes a user to make a decision logarithmically increases with the number of choices that are available, i.e., the greater the number of choices, the greater the time to make decisions.
Applying Hick’s Law to e-learning design involves ensuring menu, navigational, and similar options are not only clear, but also limited. By simplifying navigational choices, learners can concentrate more fully on the content of the course rather than trying to navigate through it.
The previous UX law, Hick’s Law, focuses on the number of navigational and similar elements presented to learners. Fitt’s Law is concerned with the size and placement of those navigational elements. Specifically, navigational elements, particularly those that are used frequently, should be large enough to stand out and positioned so they are as easy as possible to click or tap.
Miller’s Law says the average number of objects a learner can hold in their working memory is about seven, plus or minus two, depending on the learner. So, between five and nine pieces of information.
The best way to follow Miller’s Law in e-learning design is through micro-learning, where the e-learning course is broken up into small chunks. This approach avoids the problem of presenting too much information at once, instead allowing the learner to focus on just a few pieces of information at a time.
The Aesthetic-Usability Effect
The Aesthetic-Usability Effect refers to the fact that users often perceive aesthetically pleasing designs as more usable and intuitive, even if they are not. In other words, when a design is visually appealing, learners can be more forgiving of usability flaws. Engagement levels can also increase.
This positive relationship between aesthetic design and perceived usability emphasizes the importance of ensuring e-learning courses have a high standard of design. Visual appeal is important.
The Doherty Threshold
This law is a bit more technical as it concerns the responsiveness of the e-learning course as the learner interacts with it. The Doherty Threshold is 400 milliseconds. This is the maximum amount of time it should take the e-learning course to respond to an interaction by a learner.
So, for example, it should take 400 milliseconds or less to start a video or move to the next screen after the learner clicks or taps a button. If it takes longer than this, you risk breaking the user’s concentration and causing frustration.
The Goal-Gradient Effect
The Goal-Gradient Effect describes the tendency of people to accelerate their efforts as they approach a goal. So, the closer a user gets to completing a goal or task, the more motivated they are and the faster they work.
This principle can be applied in e-learning in a number of ways, including adding a progress bar and/or milestones so learners can track their progression through the course. Adopting a just-in-time training strategy for some topics can also be effective. A just-in-time training strategy is where you make e-learning courses available to learners in a library. Learners can then complete the course when they need the skill or new information the most, rather than on a timescale set for them.
Law of Common Region
In e-learning course design, there are various ways you can group elements on the screen together to help with navigation or make the content easier to learn and understand. For example, you can group elements together by giving them a similar style or design, or you can group items by placing them close to each other. The Law of Common Region says the best way to group items together is to locate them in the same closed region.
Applying UX Design Best Practices in E-Learning Course Development
UX design principles are more commonly used to create software applications and websites. However, they also have applications in e-learning development. Instructional design principles also need to be applied, with LXD the main focus, but you can enhance the experience of users by utilising the UX design laws outlined above.