How To Choose The Right eLearning Authoring Tool: Part 1

How To Choose The Right eLearning Authoring Tool: Part 1
Summary: Here are some key things to consider when searching for the best eLearning authoring tool.

What To Consider When Looking For The Best eLearning Authoring Tool: What Makes Up The Price, Traditional Software Vs. Cloud, And Choosing Between Windows And Mac

Every day, dozens of eLearning developers are searching for the best eLearning authoring tool. In this 3-part article, we share the answers to the most and frequent and important questions regarding this matter.

14 Things To Consider When Choosing The Right eLearning Authoring Tool
Get a full insight into choosing eLearning software and find the best eLearning authoring tool for your needs.

Let’s begin.

1. What Makes Up The Price

Situation: There are multiple tools of similar functionality, but their prices vary considerably. Why?

Let’s take cars, for example. What makes up the price of a car? Its technical capacity, level of comfort, service quality, and brand reputation. The same is true for the price of an eLearning authoring tool. To figure out what the price includes:

  • See the full list of features
  • Find out if there are trainings resources available
  • Call technical support
  • Explore additional services
  • Find out how often updates are released
  • Read testimonials and feedback from customers

Where Can I See The Full List Of Features?

Most vendors provide a hefty list of features on their website, but don’t get overwhelmed by the quantity. If you only need 10 out of 100, why pay for the rest? Ask vendors which features you can really use in your projects.

Feeling uncomfortable with all these new features and trendy buzzwords? Simply make a list of desired use cases. For example: I want my learners to be able to take courses on the go, say on a plane.

Jot down all required use cases and leave it up to the vendor to pick features for each task.

Also, ask if they can implement custom features for your specific needs, and how much it’s going to cost.

Does The Price Include Updates And Technical Support?

Technical support is often not included in the price, making it seem more affordable. Updates/upgrades may well be excluded. It’s better to make these things clear before you make your choice.

Are There Training Resources Available?

Ideally, a vendor not only provides the tool, but also shows how to use it most effectively. On a tool’s website there should be a knowledge base with training resources: tutorials, articles, and guides. Some vendors offer individual online webinars.

What Does The Price Include Besides Basic Functionality?

Some vendors offer access to various supplementary tools and services — for example, cloud storage or content libraries. Ask if they are included in the price or should be purchased separately.

In many cases, the price on a website is much less than the full price of ownership. Find out the total cost of the tool and what it includes. If you don’t get clear answers, consider talking to other vendors.

What The Clients Say

To avoid spending too much time on research, read testimonials and feedback from users. This is the quickest way to get an idea of a tool’s quality.

Places to find information:

  • Software reviews
  • Client testimonials on official website
  • Feedback from users on forums
  • Video testimonials and reviews on YouTube

As soon as you narrow the list down to a few options, you can move on to deeper research.

Questions to ask a vendor:

  • Where can I see the full list of features?
  • Which features I can use in my projects and how?
  • What does the price include besides basic functionality? Does it include supplementary tools or services, like cloud storage or a content library?
  • What training resources are available? Can I get individual training?
  • What’s included in my one-time price? Are there any recurring payments?

2. Traditional Software Vs. Cloud

Situation: You want to decide what will work better for you: a traditional desktop solution or a cloud service.

Desktop tools appeared way earlier than cloud solutions, which means that, for now, they provide a considerably bigger range of features and opportunities.

On the other hand, web services are becoming more and more popular for many reasons. For example, they require no special OS or hardware configuration. A user simply opens an application in a browser, logs in and starts working.

However, they also have certain nuances:

  • Web services are only available by subscription
  • An internet connection is required to work
  • Data is stored on external servers outside the company

Let’s take a closer look at how traditional software is different from cloud-based.

Traditional software Cloud services
Functionality Advanced Basic
Productivity High
(up-to-date computer required)
(high-speed stable internet connection required)
Installation on computer + -
License type Perpetual license / subscription Subscription only
Meets the requirement of corporate network security + -
Upgrades are available Depends on the license type +
Free trial + +
Offline access + -
Collaborative work - +

If you have decided to opt for a cloud service, make sure to consider security aspects:

  • Ask your company’s IT department if it is allowed according to your corporate network security policy to store data on external servers.
  • Ask the vendor of the web service where their servers are located, and consult your company’s legal department if it is legitimate to use them.

3. Windows Or Mac

Situation: You want to know if you will be able to create eCourses on your Mac.

There is a never-ending debate as to which is better: Mac or Windows PC. Obviously, both systems have their advantages. However, when it comes to choosing eLearning authoring software, we recommend not to limit yourself to a particular operating system.

You see, the range of Windows programs for eLearning authoring is much wider. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to confine yourself to just a few choices that run on Mac.

What If I Can’t Find Any Good Mac Software For eLearning Authoring?

Try searching among programs that run on Windows. It’s very easy to run Windows software on a Mac: all you need is to install a special program that will create a virtual Windows desktop on your computer. The most popular are Parallels, Apple Boot Camp, and VMware. These programs allow you to switch between your Mac OS X and Windows.

Questions to ask a vendor:

  • Will their software run on my platform (Windows, Mac)?
  • If not, what solutions do they suggest?

Stay tuned for the second part of this article, where we discuss the Learning Curve concept, LMS compatibility, games, video lectures, and simulations, as well as why you should go for a tool that provides a content library.

If you want to learn more about how to find the best eLearning authoring tool for your needs, download the eBook 14 Things To Consider When Choosing The Right eLearning Authoring Tool.

eBook Release: iSpring Suite
iSpring Suite
An all-in-one software solution for creating versatile learning content and teamwork on eLearning projects. Super easy to use; no coding or design skills are required.