Monday, 8 July 2013

Learning to Date

I can’t believe that my design course is almost over. It’s been a really busy month trying to get my “real” work done at work and doing my homework. I am usually an excellent self-learner and will often pick up a couple of books and learn on my own. Before taking this course, I had read a couple of design books but somehow things weren't sinking in. I REALLY hate to admit it, but upon reflection, I think it’s the doing (aka assignments) that made the subject real to me. Looking at websites, thinking about them and then creating them has been a real learning experience.

Here is a list of things I've learned during this course.

  1. Applying knowledge really does help you learn! To keep learning web and elearning design on my own, I’m going to have to do more “assignment”-type work to ensure that I practice and ground my learning.
  2. I knew a lot of odds and ends about web design. Now it’s more holistic and I can relate parts to each other.
  3. Designing a website and designing learning is very similar. They both:
  • Need to be audience focused;
  • Need to take into account your audience’s experience and learning style;
  • Need to have precise objectives – otherwise it’s easy to lose your way;
  • Require creativity and practice;
  • Require knowledge of basic principles;
  • Should be tested out before an official launch;
  • Should be well organised;
  • Can be approached from many directions;
  • Require review, rewrites and tweaking!
  • Can’t please everyone – so knowing your primary audience and developing the content based on your objectives is key.

  • 4. A website layout is about ease of use and visual attraction. Simple is often best.

    5. There are a few main layout designs. Almost everything else is a combination of these. I suspect that most layout designs would do the job; it’s how we adapt them based on our audience and need that makes the difference.

    6. This was the first time that I bought the electronic version of a textbook. Not sure I’ll do it again, especially if the textbook isn't big and heavy! Paper has its advantages.

    7. Learning and mastering web design and all of the tools and technology that go with it is huge – and it’s bound to change tomorrow. I guess that’s perfect for someone who needs to keep learning.

    8. It’s amazing how generous people are with their learning on the Intranet. So much great stuff is available free of charge. It’s fantastic!

    9. I read some good tips on testing your site before you launch it in Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make me Think, 2nd Edition, 2006. Here are a few tips:

  • Testing one user is better than testing no user; 
  • Testing one user at the beginning of a project is better than testing 50 users later!
  • Test early and often because testing will inform your design judgement. 
  • One test is the “Get it” testing: show someone the site; see if they understand its purpose; how it’s organised; how it works; etc. 
  • Another is the “Key task” test: ask a user to do something and watch to see he/she can. You’ll get better results if you let the user decide on parts of the task (i.e. find a book and buy it – and let them choose and find the book they want); 
  • Another test is the “cubicle” test: Print out a copy of a new page and have someone in the next cubicle see if they can make sense of it. 
  • Typical usability problems are: 

  • i. Purpose of the site is unclear;
    ii. Words that they are looking for aren't there;
    iii. There is too much going on.

    10. Once created, a website needs to be “weeded” like a garden. That’s too bad because if my garden is any indication....I’m in serious trouble!

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