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How To Design And Build Successful eLearning Websites: Key Tips And Principles To Follow

How To Design And Build Successful eLearning Websites: Key Tips And Principles To Follow
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Summary: eLearning will continue to experience growth with the promise of new technologies like AR, VR, 3D optics and several others promising to make learning more immersive and personalised.

Ways To Design And Build Successful eLearning Websites

eLearning websites are increasingly taking over the traditional model of classroom education all over the globe. eLearning is already popular among working professionals and aspirants of technical education and higher studies. It is slowly becoming the most credible way to get a quality education. But do all eLearning websites enjoy the same engagement from the learners? Do all of them offer the same ease of access and learning ability? No, they do not, because many of these websites and eLearning apps lack the design attributes, performance, and features that successful ones have.

We are going to explain these factors that ensure better engagement and success for most eLearning websites. We will begin with the common flaws followed by most important features and lastly, the tips to boost learner engagement and site performance better.

Critical Faultlines In eLearning And Education Websites

Over the years, as education websites continue to evolve, we can see some common faultlines and flaws across most eLearning and education websites. Most of these faults actually prevent the education websites to meet the needs of the learners, intended audience and faculty as they are supposed to do so.

Let us have a look at the common flaws seen in such websites.

The most common flaws found in educational websites include:

  1. The navigation requiring a lot of clicks to access the content is a common issue with many education websites.
  2. A monotonous interface that fails to engage the attention of your audience is another common problem with education websites.
  3. Missing and incorrect information is another issue with educational websites in general.
  4. A lot of cognitive overload in design that causes distractions is a common problem with many education websites.
  5. Too much text content and lack of visuals also pave the way for an under-optimized site lacking engagement.

Key Features Every Educational Website Should Give Priority To

There are some features that play a mission-critical role for educational websites. These features actually make the bone and flesh of an eLearning website. Let us have a look at a few of these must-have features:

1. Online Enrolment

An eLearning website must allow online admission or online enrolment. The students and learning aspirants will be asked to enrol in a Learning Management System (LMS). This LMS serves as the point of reference for students and as the common platform to allow all learners to see their curriculum, learning to contact faculty and to access all the available course materials. There are a lot of ready-to-use LMS solutions—besides the option of using your own one.

2. Reports And Analytics

How can you assess that you are providing the learners with the content and learning environment they need? Well, you can only do this by analysing the data through detailed reports on their online behaviour and their activities. This is why numerous reports and analytics play a crucial role in data-centric decision making for shaping the learning environment and curriculum.

3. Simple Payment Processing

Allowing payment by the students to be managed easily is a crucial criterion for the modern eLearning websites. Easy payment will help to boost the conversion of student interests into actual enrolment. Your eLearning website must have an online payment form with all respective payment methods listed there. It must not take a few seconds to complete the entire process of payment. You must allow a wide array of payment methods including net banking, debit and credit cards, PayPal and demand drafts. One should be able to make payment without having a bank account.

4. Student Evaluation And Feedback

An eLearning website must assess the learning of students from time to time just in the way of regular classroom tests. Your eLearning website should have standalone features for assessment tests and evaluation. The assessment tests should be periodical as well as inbuilt within the course curriculum for ongoing and continuous evaluation. Flexibility to attend tests and evaluate the learning is another important aspect of eLearning test mechanism.

5. Student Information Management

Student Information Management Systems (SIMS) is basically a record-keeping mechanism to keep students updated about activities, test records, grades, attendance, etc. This system completely takes care of all the student information in a highly organised manner. This enables self-service help of students while optimising the accessibility of information. This also ensures the integration of data while allowing optimum security arrangement.

6. High-Quality Content

An eLearning website primarily gets attention because of promising quality education to the learners. The promise of quality education assuring to build expertise cannot be possible without high-quality content. This is the most uncompromising area for any education website.

In eLearning websites, the quality of contents and that of the learning environment largely depend upon how you create the curriculum and course structure to the advantage of students. Here are some time-tested principles to follow:

  1. Storyboarding is tested and tried the method to build course structure capable to drive traction and engagement.
  2. For effective storyboarding, you need to put the contents into logical modules. The modules will be decided based upon the course flow and accordingly the information for the entire path of learning will be provided in chunks. These small chunks of information will be modules.
  3. You need to limit the size of the modules within maximum 8-10 pages. This will ensure more engagement as such small modules will help the learners to feel that they are making progress through the course.
  4. You need to incorporate interactions and activities through the modules to ensure hands-on learning with more exposure to applications.
  5. Lastly, the course content should be optimised with the use of images and graphics visuals to look more engaging and interesting.

7. Gamification And Triggers

The learners, much like in a game-playing environment, should be motivated to continue studying while getting a sense of making progress. This is done mainly by motivational triggers and elements related to the principle of gamification. Each lesson should complete with a test providing grades and marks along with words if applause and encouragement. The Sensei plugin is already proved to be tremendously effective to integrate tests and such motivational triggers with the curriculum. To engage learners further and to create healthy competition, you can also introduce a gamified point system to motivate the learners to pursue some promised rewards.

8. Social Community

Most learners are also great time-spenders on social media, and they already belong to the online community while enrolling in a curriculum. You can only further help their social engagement with an inbuilt forum of discussion and also by holding out webinars. You can upload recorded learning sessions as contents. You can also allow learners to post their own contents for the greater good of engagement and continuous learning. The eLearning environment today is very much community-driven, and your education website cannot be an exception to this.

Tips On Creating And Maintaining An Educational Web Site

Apart from the must-have features of an eLearning or education website, one also needs to consider a few design and development tips. If your education website needs to stay apart in terms of excellence and learner engagement, follow the below-mentioned tips.

  1. First of all, your education website must deliver something beyond what's already there across the vast majority of such websites. While you cannot ignore the time tested principles of design and development, you can at least try to reinvent the wheel with your own input over and above the standard of excellence which is already there.
  2. Before your education website really gets large with engagement from a huge number of students, decide about the intellectual property ownership internally. Whether contents developed or written by the faculty members should be held as their intellectual property or that of the institution should be decided once and for all.
  3. The most important condition for any website to become successful is to ensure fast page-loading time. Obviously, it is no different with the eLearning and education websites. To ensure fast loading speed make accessing media files, images and heavy graphics contents optional. Make sure your homepage is not loaded with heavy contents, and it loads in a few seconds. Optimise all images and visual contents to appropriate sizes and formats for fast loading. You can also use lazy loading or AMP to ensure fast loading of contents that user needs at a given moment.
  4. Another most important principle concerning eLearning website design is to ensure an attractive and aesthetically appealing design that grabs attention quickly and engages the audience instantly with the learning process.
  5. Though there is no formal peer-based review system for education websites, you cannot do without taking feedback of the users to fine-tune the experience. Besides analysing log files of the web server, analysing reports through analytics, you also need to take the opinion of learners and people of the industry.
  6. Lastly, avail all the promotional channels to reach out to your audience, and make traction with your audience. Apart from conventional ads and marketing avenues, make use of newsletters, promotional deep links in mobile apps, social media promotions and handles to promote your eLearning website.

For eLearning websites and applications to stand apart from the rest, these principles and time-honoured tips can play an effective role.