Technology & ResouRces
| 030 | OCT 13 | TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT www.aitd.com.au
Layout consistency creates a sense of
professionalism on a website, making it
more credible and appealing to users.
A basic principle of information
architecture for websites is the ‘principle
of disclosure’ which refers to showing
only enough information to help
people understand what they will find
as they read further (Brown, 2010). In
this regard, students can be tricked by
(headings) and by avoiding scrolling
pages as much as possible. When the
information is visually compacted, it
creates an impression that there is not
much to read and prevents users from
feeling overwhelmed. Another principle
that helps to present information
effectively is called ‘focused navigation’
(Lidwell et al., 2010). If you have a page
with online lectures, use only links
rather than a combination of links and
embedded player, and be consistent
to avoid learners’ confusion. When
presenting an activity for learners to watch
a video and comment on a blog, embed
the video inside the blog. Don’t give your
learners the opportunity to walk away by
clicking a link and opening a new window.
Finally, ‘the principle of objects’ points us to
treat content as a living, breathing thing, with
a lifecycle, behaviours, and attributes. For
example, if you are going to post an online
lecture (Slidecast) using multimodal delivery,
you will need to make sure you label the
objects appropriately, such as Interactive
PDF (Size MB), PDF to Print (Size MB),
Audio File MP3 (Size MB). This will let
learners efficiently choose the way they want
to engage with your content, and you will be
catering to various learning styles.
Aesthetics and credibility
Recent research has proposed that aesthetics
play an important role in shaping user
responses to products and websites. Users
also draw on aesthetic impressions to judge
usability and credibility. In online learning,
it is therefore important for training
providers and educational institutions to
consider the educational function of visual
content and the aesthetic judgements that
are being made by learners. Including visual
content and applying aesthetic standards
during online course development can
ultimately improve not only the visual
appearance of course content, but can also
improve how students react to and interact
with those courses.
The digital aspects of aesthetics and design
are not limited to photos or graphics
displayed on a screen, but include methods
of deliberately arranging elements to
appeal to the senses or emotions of the
user, or the act of creating something
that does not exist (Batiha, Al-Slaimeh
& Besoul, 2006). Over 45 percent of
consumers made judgments about the
credibility of websites based on the site
design, including layout, typography, font
size, and colour scheme (Fogg et al., 2003).
Several studies have demonstrated that
aesthetic judgments also affect a system’s
perceived usability (Mbipom & Harper,
2009; Tractinsky, Katz & Ikar, 2000).
These findings should lead e-learning
professionals to consider aesthetics as a
way to enhance learners’ experience.
Visual design and aesthetics have a great
impact on how users perceive information,
learn, judge credibility and usability,
and ultimately assign value to an online
product. It has a role in enhancing and
supporting teaching, but it has often
been neglected or implemented less than
professionally in online learning. The aims
Fig 5: Background pattern example. Background
patterns can add intricacy, complexity and visual
variety, and could make reading difficult when
there is low contrast between background and fonts.
Their use in e-learning should be limited.
Fig 6: A design that uses a neutral colour scheme
and white background with black fonts. It looks
clean, professional and legible.
Fig 7: Poor use of typography. Note that this example is
hard to read and the page appears confusing.
Fig 4: Neutral colour scheme. This colour scheme is
the natural result of neutralizing colours by mixing
them with their respective complementaries.
The more simple and plain the colour scheme
you use on your e-learning site, the better it
will showcase your content for your learners.