Why You Should Think Of Mobile-First Design For Online Courses

Why You Should Think Of Mobile-First Design For Online Courses
Summary: When designing online courses that are going to be accessed on mobile devices, the best option is to adopt a mobile-first approach to design. This will not only make the design process easy but also help you avoid a lot of rework later on.

Should You Consider Mobile-First Design For Your Online Courses?

Have you heard of the ‘mobile-first’ approach? You might have heard it in the context of web design, UX design, or UI design. Well, do you know that this is very relevant even to your online courses? It is something you need to give a serious thought to, particularly if you are planning to get a bunch of online courses designed and developed. So, let's start from the beginning...what is the mobile-first approach? Or more specifically, what do we mean by mobile-first learning modules?

What Are Mobile-First Learning Modules?

Mobile-first learning modules mean designing online learning modules, keeping in mind the smallest screen space/size, and then gradually modifying the design to suit other screens—tablets, laptops, PCs. It is said that if you want to make your online courses responsive, this is the best strategy to adopt. So, when you need to create online learning modules, you first start by designing for mobile devices and then go on to expand the content for other screens.

Why Should You Consider A Mobile-First Design For Online Courses?

The main reason this is better is that, when you work with limited space, you have to be very careful in how you use that space. Only the most essential element gets there—the most essential that helps get the job done. So, in the case of online learning modules, content is chunked to ensure only the most important and relevant content is picked to go to the mobile screen space. The beauty of this approach is that you are forced to objectively assess the learning objective of the course and choose the content that best meets that objective.

As a result, you actually tackle the hard part right at the beginning, without getting distracted by other elements. In fact, it is well established that mobile design is in fact hard, compared to designing content for PCs or laptops and so when done first, you would have covered a lot of ground. Expanding the content to other devices gets a lot easier because you just need to add content and elements to an existing structure, based on their priority and relevance.

What Happens If You Do Not Follow The Mobile-First Approach In eLearning?

Imagine you are building a structure using Lego blocks. It is always easy to add on to the structure and still ensure the altered structure looks equally good as the one before. However, if you already built a structure and, now, you realize it does not fit into the space you wanted to keep it in, you will have to remove blocks. But, when you do so, you may strip off its essential elements, and it may not look meaningful. It would involve rearranging a lot of blocks, and that means more work and more time. The same is true for online courses.

Building an eLearning course for PCs is like creating a large Lego block with lots of elements and complexities. If you do not have restrictions of space in the Graphic User Interface, you tend to include complex interactivities and elements right from the start. Also, you may not really distinguish between essential ‘need to know’ content and supplementary ‘nice to know’ content, and you may have them all bundled together. So, when you must redesign this content that has already been developed for PCs and laptops, it is very difficult to cut down the content and media elements; it is so because there are many factors you need to consider when chunking content.

Imagine you already created a structure with Lego blocks and, now, you are told that you can’t use so many blocks, and you need to create a structure with half the blocks. Which blocks to keep, which to remove? How to ensure you don’t disturb the structure too much and yet create a structure that’s acceptable? It would be very hard, wouldn’t it? Developers face the same predicament. It is not impossible. It has been done before but it is time-consuming and requires a lot of rework.

If you are considering mobile learning as an after-thought, you have no option but to go for this method. However, if you are considering creating online courses afresh, and are sure your learners will access these courses on mobile devices, ensure you adopt a mobile-first policy design. Web designers vouch for it when designing websites and the same holds true for eLearning courses as well.

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