Friday, October 9, 2009

Training Website Design: Building Online Training Solutions

Training and assessment websites are excellent ways of filtering job candidates, developing staff skills, or offering tutorials for new software systems. But what's the right way to approach training website design?

Here are a few things to consider:

What are your goals?

It may seem obvious, but you need to be clear on the purpose of the site.

Do you want people to master a new IT system? Are you trying to help users learn about a particular concept or subject? Is the goal to assess new employees with a series of tests and questions?

The goal will effect what form your training website takes – from its interactivity levels to the length of the programme.

Who are your users?

Is your site designed to help tech-savvy website design experts learn complex software? Or is it to help local schoolteachers with varied levels of computer skills understand a new IT system?

Thinking about your users will inform your approach and general style. For example, the schoolteachers mentioned above may require more step-by-step guidance throughout the process.

Focus on the outcome, not the information

A regular mistake with assessment and eLearning design is that the site simply becomes yet another platform for delivering information.

However, presenting information isn't the end target – the transfer of skills and information to the user is.

Having interactive tests, visual guides and a variety of content makes for more effective online learning.

Have a flexible content management system

If you're designing for a client (or even your own business), it's important to make your content as easy to manipulate as possible.

Perhaps you'll need to add further questions, amend answers, include extra pages – or simply change an image. All this can be accomplished with the right CMS.

Keep usability in mind

As users will be interacting with your training website, you need to make is as intuitive as possible to navigate.

Pay attention to the little details. For example, will users be allowed to save their progress? If they make a mistake and press the back button, will their answers/input still be visible?

Instructional language should be clear and straightforward.

Make it secure

People need to be reassured that the system is secure.

For example, if they're completing a feedback questionnaire about their colleagues, they need to be confident that the information won't be publicly available (unless stated so).

Include reassuring copy and have a login system with password for all users.

While there are dozens of areas to consider when designing an online training platform, keeping these points in mind can help you start off on the right path.