Friday, April 27, 2012


If you need them, you’re doing something wrong.

If users provide constructive feedback regarding problems navigating content, don’t start drafting up pages of help documentation and tutorial videos. Instead, identify what the problem is and if it can be solved through redesign. Navigation should use conventional terms and icons, and behave the way it is expected to behave. If you’re using clear icons and language, users should not need instructions to progress through the content.

Side note: My biggest pet peeve is LMS Course Players that strip the browser window of navigation, we should be able to design course navigation that compliments the standard browser functionality. Especially when designing non-linear content, the browsers back button should not need to be re-invented. Flash media can and should integrate browser navigation.

For engaging media, the objective and interaction of the exercise should be clear, or can be described with a couple concise sentences. Something like “Fill in the blank” should be all that is required, if the user needs to click a button to submit their answer, the button name should be all the instruction needed, it should just make sense.

For more complicated activities, consider building the instructions directly into the flow of the interaction. Allow the user to complete small goals, learning functionality of the total engagement as they progress to the main activity. Don’t forget to provide a skip to main exercise option as well though for the savvy or returning users.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Being Flexible

I’ve been playing around with Adobe Captivate’s Custom Widgets. While I can’t speak too highly about Captivate’s quizzing interface, I do think they’re doing it right when it comes to being flexible.

Allowing technical users to develop their own customized widgets for a Captivate project is a no-brainer. Not only does it allow users to develop beyond the restrictions of existing components, but with the developer sharing through Adobe Exchange, it actually grows their Captivate product line for free.
Articulate Quizmaker could learn from this model.

Want a fill in the blank question with more than one blanks? Nope, sorry.

Want matching question where items can match to the same responses? Nope, sorry.

Quizmaker is a fantastic tool, but its strength in being easy to use has a side effect of not allowing much customization. They needed to follow Adobe Captivate's lead and allow for Question Widgets through a Flash API.

I hear Articulate’s StoryLine is nearing finished, from what I hear it will be their first HTML5 centric tool. Here’s hoping they grow their product, develop a strong developer community, and allow for customization, all by being a little flexible.