How To Choose The Right Authoring Tool For Your Online Training Course
Here are 8 things to consider when selecting the right authoring tool for your training organization.
1. Find a tool that’s easy to use.
Go for simplicity! You want your team to have the freedom to create training without requiring the aid of a coding guru. Ease of use is paramount in fostering an environment that inspires creativity. An authoring tool that is user-friendly will reduce necessary software training, cut down on development time, and bolster both the number of courses you output and your return on investment.
2. Look for design flexibility and brand control.
In choosing a tool that caters for both the needs of your course developers and the maintenance of your brand identity, a mixture of flexibility and control is vital. You’ll want to select an authoring tool that gives your team creative latitude while still empowering you with control over your brand standards.
Authoring tools such as Elucidat allow for this by allowing course authors to manipulate dynamic elements (images, text content, and the like) while simultaneously locking down important brand-related elements such as background colors and logos.
3. Online collaboration features are a must-have.
Aim for an authoring tool that provides a streamlined online system that allows for full team collaboration. Tracking changes across documents and comment monitoring should all be supported via a sophisticated system that dispenses with duplicate change requests.
Such tools will cut down on frustration and increase the efficiency with which you produce your online training.
4. Make sure you can create mobile-ready learning.
The world has gone mobile, and any online training that doesn’t mobile phones and tablets will be left behind.
Your authoring tool of choice needs to allow for ease of mobile content creation. Specifically, your course authors need a tool with “write-once-publish-anywhere” functionality that ensures that once a course is created, it can be accessed on any mobile or tablet device without loss of formatting.
Elucidat is one such authoring tool that offers such functionality. This is discussed in more detail in the Utility Warehouse case study.
5. Must be able to publish and maintain courses quickly.
Revisions happen. They are the rule, not the exception. With this sobering fact in mind, why would you ever choose an authoring tool that doesn’t allow you to make alterations quickly and efficiently?
Often, cloud-based authoring tools are more convenient than their desktop-based counterparts for such purposes, as the course source files and the authoring tool itself are centrally held and accessible by everyone on your team, no matter their location.
For example, if the primary author of a course is on the road, they can still log in to make timely changes from their hotel room, since all that’s necessary is a computer with a stable Internet connection. Nifty, huh?
Did you know? Elucidat’s rapid release feature enables direct course changes to the Learning Management System (LMS) via one-click functionality.
6. Localization must be easy.
Let’s imagine that your courses are really taking off and that it’s time to reach new markets in foreign regions. You're going to require course translation. Will your authoring tool provide for this? Choose an authoring tool that has a built-in translation workflow if such a scenario is a possibility for you.
A common standard to allow translation from one language to another is XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format). An XLIFF file is a structured file that contains all the text to be translated and corresponding spaces for a human translator to enter alternative language versions of that same text.
This video shows how Elucidat allows you to export an XLIFF file containing all a course’s text for translation with the click of a button and then how to automatically import the translated text.
7. Look for pre-built themes, page types, and interactions.
You’re going to want an authoring tool that allows your team the luxury of focusing on the quality of its content and not on frustrating, annoying technical complexities related to the software.
Consider an authoring tool that comes loaded with prebuilt page types and themes that allow for the effortless creation of functionality and beautiful designs, without the headaches.
For example, an Elucidat theme offers a wide range of page types -hotspots, text and graphics, multiple choice questions, and more- and functionality that allows for full customization. What’s the fancy programming behind all this? It’s conveniently hidden, out-of-sight and out-of-mind.
Pre-built themes and page types are the fundamental building blocks of your learning masterpiece.
8. Integration with an analytics platform.
The only way to understand how your courses are performing and the degree to which customers are learning is to ensure that the relevant data is readily accessible. You’ll need to know who your learners are and how they are using your courses in order to improve your product.
The capabilities of your chosen authoring tool are the cornerstones on which you build your courses. I can’t stress this enough: Do your homework before you select a tool!
I’ve recently put together an article that gives a complete rundown of several high-profile authoring tools, many of which even offer free trials. Be sure to take advantage of these by giving each a test drive before making a commitment.
Want to learn more about Elucidat? Take our product tour.