The spread of coronavirus has resulted in an unprecedented global experiment in online learning delivery. Most teachers and students had to adopt learning management systems (LMSs) to make sure education remains both effective and seamless.
Still, many existing LMSs suffer from serious limitations in terms of usability. As a result, this prevents learners and teachers from taking advantage of educational innovations.
A superb LMS user experience (UX) is of paramount importance when it comes to product adoption. 94% of people decide whether they’re going to continue using an app based on how intuitive it is.
Given this compelling statistic, JatApp has prepared this article for you to better understand common UX design problems and best practices in this field.
Why does UX matter for LMS success?
The LMS design is what makes the customers’ first impression of a product. The recent research shows that 88% of end-users aren’t likely to come back to a LMS platform, if it fails to provide a good e-learning design. A decent UX design helps businesses achieve their goals and offer users effective learning experiences.
It’s not uncommon when the LMS UX becomes the major advantage of the product. Memorable and eye-catching design components, like icons, signature colors, and custom animations, can make a platform stand apart from others. Unique user interface (UI)/UX don’t simply differentiate the LMS but also improves brand awareness.
One of our recent projects, Pre-Quest, makes a good example of how a company can set itself apart from competitors and build a strong brand. Pre-Quest refers to an online test preparation platform for 6-7th-grade Chinese students. A well-thought UX design has assisted the company with establishing itself as a powerful brand in China recommended by 97% of parents.
Pre-Quest app functionality
To differentiate the business from other online learning platforms, Pre-Quest focuses on engaging and appealing visual content for 9-12 years old children. The solution offers illustrations of animals in their natural habitat and lets users select panda-like avatars for their personal accounts.It’s worth noting that PreQuest users tend to relate to the image of pandas, since these animals have long become a national Chinese symbol.
Pre-Quest panda avatar feature
Biggest problems with LMS design
To deliver an effective LMS UX, you should avoid the common mistakes on your way, such as the lack of mobile adaptability, complex navigation, and dull and unengaging experiences.
Design is not adaptable to mobile learning
The mobile version of a platform should be as effective and user-friendly as the desktop version, if not better. The statistics prove this: the global mobile market share has reached 57.44%, surpassing the desktop market share (42.56%) during the last twelve months.
Global desktop vs mobile market share
One of the biggest difficulties of adapting the platform interface to mobile devices is choosing the right screen dimensions. End-users have to horizontally scroll the page to read the content, which often presents a giant pain for them.
A user-hostile layout for mobile devices
There are also cases when elements on the mobile device appear way too small, so that users need to zoom the text or picture to see what’s shown on the screen. An app designer should avoid such layouts, adjusting the LMS elements to fit smaller sizes of a mobile screen.
A user-hostile layout for mobile devices
Navigation is a wild chaos
Poor platform navigation makes teachers and learners’ lives much harder. The former fail to find the tools to create content and monitor students’ learning, while the latter can’t easily track their progress, take tests, or jump between learning courses.
The lack of search functionality, inconsistent navigation between modules, and overly cluttered menus eventually lead to users’ frustration and overall LMS ineffectiveness. What’s more, users expect to find interface elements where they’ve seen them before in other online learning systems. For example, if the menu is hidden in upper corners of the screen, end-users may feel lost not knowing how to make use of this learning tool.
An example of user-hostile navigation
Features are boring and unengaging
You want your users to be excited about learning and teaching with your LMS. However, that’s not going to happen if your product looks something like this:
No matter how “serious” the task users have to perform is, they crave for learning experiences that would give them laughter, fun, and excitement. Needless to say, dull and unengaging features can make your platform less successful, as they neither get customers’ attention nor drive their emotions. It also becomes more difficult to differentiate the LMS from other similar products when features are all much of a muchness.
Once you understand common UX design problems, you may want to know about solutions to make your LMS more effective and convenient.
Best practices in LMS UX design
Intuitive navigation, engaging features, and accessibility are some of the best practices that make teachers satisfied with the educational process and students motivated to keep learning. Let’s discuss how to design elearning platforms that end users would enjoy using.
Make sure navigation is intuitive
To make navigation both clear and simple, you need to make the menu structure consistent throughout your LMS tool. Besides, learners should be able to access any page within a few clicks, as it gives them confidence that they know where each LMS component is.
Even though the choice of actions changes depending on the user’s function, teachers and students’ interfaces should have the same menu structure. This would make the change between roles quick and smooth.
Kadenze is a perfect example of the LMS with an intuitive design. In this learning portal, relevant icons are larger in the selected screen, which makes it easy to navigate. For instance, when a student presses the button Courses, the icons with educational courses appear way bigger in size than the ones with other LMS elements. This approach helps to focus learner’s attention on actions they are most likely to take, making their interaction with the platform hassle-free.
Add engaging and fun features
Engaging features can make even the most tedious tasks fun and entertaining. Let’s see some examples that don’t leave students any chance to procrastinate.
Personalized learning paths
Some LMSs customize the sequences of learning courses or tests based on how students perform. Managing content sequences and aligning educational material with each learner help to keep them motivated and involved.
Coming back to Pre-Quest, the platform provides personalized tests based on the learners’ abilities. If students improve their academic performance, they get more complex assignments to complete. Moreover, when a learner finishes a test, the LMS offers a customized report that explains all mistakes made. Parents can also monitor their children’s progress and time left to pre-test.
Pre-Quest page showing student’s total progress
Who has never felt nervous about tons of lectures and assignments that you need to complete? Maybe it’s not about your bad time-management skills or shattered nerves but poor UX design of a learning platform you’ve selected.
A modern e-learning design should provide students with microlearning opportunities. People tend to better perceive and remember learning content when it’s divided into bite-sized pieces. On the contrary, big and time-consuming chunks of text can make learners feel anxious and overwhelmed.
TalentCards refers to a microlearning LMS platform that delivers training content to employees. With this app, organizations can create and break down learning courses into small pieces of content, which helps to turn their training into a workers’ daily routine. The space on every double-sided or single-sided card offers enough room for the most relevant content, with none left for the clutter.
An example of a microlearning card
UX designers often turn to gamification to spice up users’ learning experience. Different types of game mechanics, such as points, badges and trophies, as well as leaderboards help to pique users’ interest and drive them to spend more time learning. Let’s see some concrete examples of gamification in our Pre-Quest case.
Many games implement the system of points to show a player’s achievements. It allows users to track how much work is done and what still remains ahead. Some gamified LMS solutions include points to encourage learners to keep trying harder. As for Pre-Quest, children can not only earn points but also view their total progress.
Pre-Quest points system
- Badges and trophies
Most LMS users tend to feel satisfied when they successfully pass a test and get notified about it. Now, imagine this notification comes along with a trophy or badge as a reward. This simple UX solution helps to amplify the learner’s satisfaction level. We used this game mechanic in Pre-Quest to praise children for their effort when they collect a specific number of points.
Pre-Quest Badges page
The thing that makes the challenge particularly captivating is the opportunity to become number one. Students using the LMS with a leaderboard often get extremely competitive, being unable to sleep well until the course leader is chosen. Leaderboards make users compete like crazy each and every day, so that they end up learning more in order to outperform their peers.
Pre-Quest allows children to compete with each other, which turns learning into a pleasant activity. The leaderboard shows each student’s progress in their test preparation journey.
Pre-Quest analytics on user’s progress
Pay attention to accessibility
To ensure an excellent LMS UX, you must never forget about users with special needs. An accessible design helps users of all abilities to understand and benefit from a learning platform. Here are some general recommendations from an accessibility checklist developed by the University of Illinois:
- Opt for readable fonts, like Times New Roman or Arial.
- Make sure your heading structure is comprehensive.
- Offer text descriptions for images.
- Provide transcriptions for video and audio.
- Have a strong contrast between background and text colors.
- Create lists using bullets, just like the one you’re reading right now.
Since Pre-Quest is a learning platform for children aged 9-12 years old, one of the main goals for us was to make sure that words were simple enough for this age group to understand. Besides, children typically have a short attention span. Thus, it was particularly important to incorporate bright colors and fonts to keep learners engaged for a longer time.
Pre-Quest UX design
Effective UX needs to be appealing, simple, and intuitive to make learners focus on their education rather than on studying the LMS itself. The main purpose of the UX design is to make sure that learners feel confident and satisfied when making each click.
JatApp has a profound experience in providing user-friendly and visually attractive UX designs for LMSs, e-learning apps, and online tutoring marketplaces. We pride ourselves on high users’ retention rates, with up to 90% of learners committing to our solutions for more than six months. Our educational technologies reach more than 70K users each month and raise nearly $500K in venture capital.
Need a remarkable and user-friendly UX design for your LMS? Feel free to contact us and we’ll reach out to you as early as possible.