The UX of Learning

User experience (UX) isn’t just the responsibility of the marketing department. Apply UX principles to your learning modules, and your learners — who are your internal customers — will take notice and be much more engaged.  Heck, they might even be impressed.

Half the challenge facing L&D leaders nowadays is figuring out what training employees need. The rest of the battle is played out trying to design, build, and deliver courses that work.

As employees look to their organization’s L&D department for guidance, they expect that the learning content will deliver a particular experience.  Learners may not necessarily be experts themselves, but they know what they like, and they expect a particular learning experience that matches expectations.  

course design

This is due in part to two current trends:

The Consumerization of IT.

Thanks to the ubiquity of devices and apps that we use for our personal business and social interactions, employees fully expect that the technology utilized in a professional setting should match that which we use personally.  As such, employees expect a friendly, pleasing user interface design, with a set of features, options, and functionality that we can customize to our liking.  If the look and feel of learning modules offered by the L&D department do not match the design and usability standards set by Facebook, LinkedIn, or even YouTube, employees will engage less.

Personal Learning.

Employees are increasingly spending their own time and money outside of work on learning.  A survey conducted by Degreed.com found that employees spent an average of $339 of their own money on career-related learning in 2015. This same survey also uncovered that workers spend up to five times more time learning on their own each week than from employers. This should inform L&D leaders that learners are well aware that training is needed; they also have much experience taking courses outside of the office and know what works and what doesn’t regarding professional courses.  

Rather than view these trends as threats, L&D leaders can borrow pages from these playbooks in designing and developing courses for their learners.  

First and foremost, the content must look professionally produced, and not simply seem like the recycling of old PowerPoint presentations or the cutting and pasting from various websites.  Employees will figure it out and think, ‘Why should I invest the time when they haven’t invested the time?’

Luckily, professional-looking templates and design elements abound — often for free — to give your materials that added punch.

Luckily, professional-looking templates and design elements abound — often for free — to give your materials that added punch.

As for course design and development, with so much content available on the interwebs, you should never feel like you are starting from zero. Select your favorites — or better yet, ask employees about their favorite courses — what they like, why they like them, what they felt was useful or efficient.  


This may feel like you are simply copycating but you aren’t: if learning and more importantly, retention are the goals, then give them what will work best. Performing this preliminary research can prove crucial to determining what your audiences demand. Your job is to find the right balance between curated and original content that generates results.

Cognota® platform walks you through the course design process in an iterative, intuitive process, so you are never left figuring out how many modules there should be, or questions to ask. Courses will appear streamlined and professional, intriguing and delighting your learners.

Building and delivering courses does not have to be overwhelming.  You serve in the capacity of advisor, designer, curator, editor, and analyst, among other roles, and resources abound.

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