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E-Learning Platform Development Issues: User Personas and Interface Engineering

by Svitla Team

January 30, 2018
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Today’s  e-Learning solutions are increasingly popular no matter how small or large their scope, and learning management systems (LMSs) are among the most useful of them. LMSs are software applications designed to manage and deliver educational programs or courses, and today, there are over 700 LMS e-learning platforms intended for corporate and academic use. In fact, corporate demand for the tool dominates the market with enterprise learning software being widely applied for internal staff training and certification. In addition to that, LMSs can meet different business needs and can be customized to meet the specific demands of commercial organizations and educational institutions. 

Tailoring the e-learning development process is worth the effort and planning that it requires. We at Svitla have simplified this task by outlining the main issues one should consider when building an e-learning solution interface and highlighting a few common user persona needs, and sharing the insights as provided by our tech professionals. Discover more details below. 

Learning Platform Development: Points to Consider 

Learning platforms have many elements in common which allow users to share courses, track learners’ progress, and evaluate their knowledge. The interface engineering process of these platforms shares similarities, as well as most, relate to planning, LMS setup, and integrations. Let’s explore each of them below.

Planning. When estimating the project time and budget, it is crucial to think over the e-Learning platform complexity (functionality, some distinct features, engagement tools, etc.), hosting and maintenance costs as well as define whether it will be hosted on-premise or run on the cloud. Running the program on the cloud will greatly reduce the project timeframe. Developing on-premise solutions usually takes 6-12 months, while implementing a cloud-based platform may be completed within 3-9 months.

LMS setup. Setup requires the consideration of types of demographic data needed for user profiles. For example, corporate LMSs require data related to job titles, departments, as well as user's contacts and names, while academic LMSs need data on grade level, degree programs, and majors. This stage allows for setting different access permissions, assigning tasks to the selected audiences, and making each course tailored to the user’s experience and skills. The way in which content will be displayed and accessed across different devices depends on the content authoring tool. Therefore, it is important that content formats are clearly defined.

Integrations. Before designing and developing e-learning solutions, make a list of those integrations to add that will boost LMS capabilities. Developing the Application Programming Interface (API) will help you reach this goal because it enables programmers to take firm control of the software by allowing for integrations with third-party applications and platform customization. Single sign-on (SSO) is another must-have option allowing users to enter their login data only once and use it across all the additional systems integrated with the e-learning platform. 

User Persona in LMS: Common Needs to Know About

The success of any e-learning platform development or LMS is based on carefully defined user personas. 

The e-learning audience is a rather versatile environment, embracing both business-to-client and business-to-business models. Thus, for online platforms like Coursera or edX, the end users are individuals who strive to acquire new skills or improve competencies. As for the LMSs like Canvas and Litmos, the customers are educational institutions aiming to teach students and track their progress and business organizations seeking to train or certify their employees.

Despite their multiple differences, end users share a number of requirements they find equally important. The quality of content offered and platform functionality are often the top criteria for interactive e-learning solutions. Several more are listed below:

  • Problem-oriented courses
  • Handy educational program formats
  • Certifications
  • Simple-to-navigate interface
  • Fast browsing speed 
  • Multiple content formats (recorded videos, live courses, etc.)
  • Responsive design (to access the solution from different devices)
  • Instant support or mentoring
  • Engagement tools (for peer review, instructor-led training, collaboration on tasks, etc.)

With all that said, e-learning platform creators also need to clearly define the solution objectives (what subject is being taught and why the end users might be interested in taking such courses) and determine the platform’s competitive advantage over rival programs. To help you succeed in doing so and ensure your solution will gain the customers’ approval, we have outlined a few more ideas shared by our dev team.

Svitla Team Thoughts on Gaining Competitive Edge

Regardless of how plentiful the competitors are in the market, there are still ways to build a successful and profitable e-learning LMS platform. 

When up against a competitor, especially one who is an industry leader, it’s important to begin by defining their pain points and developing the solution that would be a good alternative. Let’s take LMSs, for example. Some of these platforms have grown bulky with time, while some have clumsy user interfaces or restricted custom development capabilities. This is a prime opportunity for your project to stand out by providing a better e-learning user experience. 

Svitla’s tech professionals suggest developing an e-learning solution for a more narrow target audience by engaging professionals with a specific area of expertise during the solution planning and development. They can advise on tools and features required, assist with course migration and LMS interoperability testing. Systems architects may also come in handy to manage system security and authentication issues as well as integrations with third-party systems like web conferencing.

Interactive interface, gamification, a unique educational technique in addition to the quality content and simple navigation will contribute much to the competitiveness of the e-learning solution.

LMS e-Learning As Investment

Launching online learning portals or LMSs requires careful planning and cost vs. benefit analysis. To do so efficiently, one should move from user persona needs to solution planning and development issues. Here, it is critical to decide on the user training methods, functionality, and features needed to guarantee a smooth e-learning user experience. 

To make your solution unique, you can resort to user engagement techniques like interactive quizzes, gamified tests, mentoring with timely assistance, and more. 

Take time to research user satisfaction as well as survey them about their user experience with the e-learning resources or new features that have been added. Trust their opinions and once you’ve achieved positive feedback, your platform may be ready to disrupt the market as a strong competitor. 

For more inspiration, you can explore the ideas behind some educational projects Svitla has worked on by following this link.

by Svitla Team
January 30, 2018

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