Design Thinking & eLearning Presentation


Greater Arizona eLearning Association

To celebrate World Usability Day on November 10, 2011, Brenton discussed how design thinking and usability can be a strategic advantage in eLearning.

The discussion covered:

  • Business case and justification for design thinking and usability

  • Ten user-centered design techniques for increased usability

  • Examples of web sites, web applications, and mobile applications

Presentation and Resources

Design Thinking Defined

  • Creating pleasant, productive eLearning tools for people

  • “Easy-to-use” doesn’t just happen… by design, using a collaborative process to solve problems

The Business Case

Increase Revenue

  • Attract more customers

  • Differentiate from competitors

  • Retain customers

  • Easy and fun to use (satisfaction)

  • Reduce support costs

Improve eLearning Impact

  • Increase learning or learnability (effectiveness)

  • Increase user productivity (efficiency)

  • Decrease user errors

  • eLearning for safety

Reduce Development Costs

  • Quicker to market

  • Litigation deterrence

  • Increase accessibility, design for inclusion

Top 10 User-Centered Design Techniques For eLearning

  • Research & understand. e.g. field research, personas

  • Good conceptual model. “match system and real world”

  • Wireframe first.

  • Learner in control.

  • Appropriate assessment tools.

  • Design aesthetics matter.

  • Apt learning content design.

  • Prevent errors.

  • Simple search.

  • Usability test.

Related Links


Alsumait, A.A. & Al-Osaimi, A., 2010, Usability Heuristics Evaluation for Child E-learning Applications, Journal of Software, 5(6), p. 654.

Cooper, Alan (1999).  The Inmates Are Running The Asylum, Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity 1st edition hardcover.

Garrett, Jesse James. 2002. The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web. 3rd Ed: Peachpit Press.

Johnson, Jeff.  2008. GUI Bloopers 2.0. Common User Interface Design Don’ts and Dos. 2nd Ed: Morgan Kaufmann.

Kantner, Laurie, and Stephanie Rosenbaum. 1997. Usability Studies of WWW Sites: Heuristic Evaluation vs. Laboratory Testing. Paper read at SIGDOC 97, conference proceedings, at Snowbird, UT.

Krug, Steve. 2006. Don’t Make Me Think. 2nd Ed: New Riders Press.

Levi, Michael D., and Fedrick G. Conrad. 1996. A Heuristic Evaluation of a World Wide Web Prototype. Interactions (July-August):50-61.

Howles, Les. Learning Styles: What the Research Says and How to Apply it to Designing E-Learning. Paper.

Minović, Miroslav , Štavljanin, Velimir,   Milovanović, Miloš, and Starčević, Dušan. 2008. Usability Issues of e-Learning Systems: Case-Study for Moodle Learning Management System, in On the Move to Meaningful Internet Systems: OTM 2008 Workshops. Springer Berlin.

Nielsen, Jakob. 1993. Usability Engineering. San Diego, CA: Academic Press Professional.

Nielsen, Jakob. 1994. Enhancing the Explanatory Power of Usability Heuristics. Paper read at CHI 94, conference proceedings : Celebrating Interdependence, April 24-28, at Boston, MA.

Norman, Donald. 1990. The Design Of Everyday Things. Paperback: Basic Books.

Shneiderman, Ben. 1998. Designing the User Interface, Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. 3 ed: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Wickens, Christopher D., Sallie E. Gordon, and Yili Liu. 1998. An Introduction to Human Factors Engineering. New York, NY: Longman

eLearningBrenton Elmore