Even if you don’t always remember the details, just keeping these 18 usability attributes at the back of your mind for any learning project will lead you down the path of user centered design. I absolutely try to apply as many of these principles as is possible on every project I work on.
- Available: Refers to not just the reliability/ up-time of the content/ platform, but of the platform where it’s hosted as well (LMS/ SharePoint, etc.). Should ideally perform as per expectation 99% of the time.
- Accessible: Content/ Platform should be accessible for all types of employees (regular, part-time, contractor, external business partners with required level of authorization) and from multiple locations. Ideally, e-learning should be accessible for differently-abled employees as well, for example, for employees with site, speech, mobility, or auditory restrictions.
- Responsive: Interface design should adapt to multiple browsers, resolution & size, OS, platforms, tech specs and add-ons, etc. Mobile-friendliness is an increasingly important feature.
- Understandable: Unambiguous language, easy to understand instructions, visual cues that are culturally universal.
- Familiar: Content/ platform should work following day-to-day workflows of its users. I find this to be an increasingly critical feature, and one which largely determines the users’ engagement with the platform.
- Consistent: Interface design, visual palette, content style guide, behavior across platforms should be consistent to aid and minimize the learning required by an end-user.
- Empathetic: Content/ Platform should be able to anticipate the individual user’s needs, and forecast usability patterns, possible errors, short-cuts, possible help topics, etc.
- Learnable: The content/ platform should be similar to other content/ systems the end-user is already familiar with. If it offers new ways of performing tasks, it should also offer training & performance support for the same.
- Guided: It is cost prohibitive and technically challenging to make every enterprise application empathetic (i.e., based on machine learning). Where empathetic features are not possible, the content/ platform should at least provide guided help and support, for example: predictive search, FAQs and context specific help, etc. These should be kept updated.
- Relevant: Learning environments often take a while to build and come of age. At the onset of development, the scope of the content/ platform should be comprehensive enough to cover future needs, and to be quick to update existing features that may get outdated.
- Purposeful/ Concise/ Shallow: Functionalities for fancy features that very few people use are best avoided. The content/ platform should help end-users complete their tasks correctly with as few steps as can be possible. It is a great idea to offer the end-user some rights to customize their own interface.
- Silent: Information that has no relevance for the end-user should be kept hidden. For example, there is no need for the system to show error messages with technical verbiage, messages with system status updates, etc.
- Interactive: A cause and effect relationship should be established between the end-user and the content/ platform. What’s more, the content/ platform should act as a conduit of information among various functions and systems in the organization.
- Sticky: The content/ platform should be memorable for its easy to use functionality, helpful design, fast speed, reliability, support, etc. End-users should be excited to talk about it and they should want to use it.
- Profitable: At the start of the process, cost-benefit analysis should have been conducted and the year on year ROI of the platform analyzed and communicated. After go-live, the benefit of the content/ platform should be regularly evaluated in monetary terms.
- Democratic: Should take into account the requirements of all groups of end-users. Use of personas while designing, prototyping, and rigorous user acceptance testing should ensure that the content/ platform is objective driven and bias free.
- Ethical: Should not violate industry or organizational regulations.
- Credible: When the above considerations are addressed in the analysis, design development and testing phases, we almost always end up with content/ a platform that delights the customer and earns their engagement and trust.
I am a Learning and Performance Consultant from India currently based in Zürich, Switzerland. Over the last 13 years, I have consulted for clients in the retail, technology, manufacturing, banking, shipping, BPO, and healthcare industries. For more details, please visit my Bio page by clicking on the Menu.