4 Tips for Designing Content in Your Learning Management System

Monica Sherwood bio picture Monica Sherwood

Whether your LMS helps users review videos, work through interactive experiences, or read .PDF resources, designing content that creates a user-friendly information hierarchy for students is a major challenge. 

For starters, your users likely have many different content needs. Are they tackling lessons asynchronously on their own time, or are they visiting your LMS to download resources to use later? Maybe it’s both?

No matter what kind of edTech tool you’re building, students need content that’s digestible, affirmative, and self-contained. That’s especially true for your LMS! 

From readability to content sequencing, here’s everything you need to know as you rethink your learning content for a new digital space.

1. Make learning content digestible

Readability and scannability are especially important when it comes to structuring learning content in your LMS. 

After all, our design  goal is to help students access and process information to learn or practice new concepts!

For example, when users see a block of text on a screen wider than 500 pixels, readability goes down. That’s guaranteed to make your engagement metrics nosedive.

Help students digest information by:

  • Using design choices that lead to a high degree of legibility. Content should help your users distinguish separate sections and prioritize calls to action.  
  • Using best practices for your typography choices, like these guidelines from DesignModo. Legibility is affected by all the decisions your design team makes about paragraph width, line length, leading, typeface, and more.
  • Using visual cues to indicate that students are moving forward and encourage them to work toward their goals.

As you make changes to address readability issues, be sure to test with users. You can also check back in with product success teams to ensure that you’ve successfully designed your content. 

The more data you collect, the easier it will be to determine if student users are engaging with—and learning from—your content.

2. Embrace content sequencing

Part of the appeal of using a learning management system is giving your users a choice about how they move through content. Teachers want flexibility in setting up course sequences for students. Students want to be able to tackle content at the pace that works best for them.

In order to do this, however, you must evaluate each individual piece of content as a discrete component of your LMS. Your content can be broken down into pieces that make up a complete lesson, resource, or class and staged to help your users learn more effectively.

Once you’ve categorized your content and created a meta-tagging strategy and user flows, it’s time to strategize engagement with content sequencing. 

All users want to feel like they’re making forward progress, especially if they’re working on a long or challenging task. By presenting content in a way that won’t overwhelm your users, you allow them to work at their own pace and make their own choices about learning.

Students need help tackling big concepts or staying engaged for longer periods of time. Consider these sequencing strategies to boost user engagement: 

  • Introducing progress monitoring
  • Breaking up content into multiple screens
  • Integrating badges for achievements
  • Incorporating wizards and other helpful tools

These engagement strategies are especially important for content sequencing in edTech. Students often log onto an LMS to read an entire book or take a long assessment. By helping users anticipate how much time they should spend on any given screen, content sequencing makes a user’s experience coherent, pleasant, and even fun.

3. Design with student affirmation in mind

In any learning experience, there are natural moments where users should feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Celebrating milestones is especially important for students’ social-emotional learning and growth. When students accomplish goals, they stay more engaged and develop the grit they need to push through challenging problems.

Affirmations don’t necessarily have to be goal-oriented, either. They could be progress-oriented, rewarding students for reading for AP History or tackling a series of math quizlets. You might even include animations that reinforce your sequencing work or make content feel less intimidating.

Affirmations create a more delightful and supportive student experience. Whether students are working asynchronously or independently, your LMS can be there to provide feedback and support in real time.

4. Provide direct views for your resources

Have you ever clicked on a link for a .PDF and found yourself on an entirely different server? It can be frustrating, especially for students.

Whenever users are pushed out of your LMS, you’re more likely to lose them. But that’s not the only reason to keep things contained. Direct resource views have the added benefit of helping you protect your intellectual property (IP). 

Both off-the-shelf and custom learning management systems can be designed to protect your .PDF resources and other downloads by embedding content directly into the experience. You’ll also get better engagement metrics using this strategy, which can help you continue to improve your product.

A well-designed learning management system has many advantages. You can deliver powerful content at just the right moment to support your users’ needs and evolve your content strategy over time.

By sequencing and designing content to support the lifecycle of your product, you’ll stay one step ahead in the edTech marketplace. As you receive customer feedback and conduct user tests, you can refine your LMS into an ever more valuable edTech tool for years to come.

Are you building a custom LMS or tailoring an off-the-shelf system? Contact us below to chat more about user research, accessibility, and content sequencing.

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