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Expanding the Learning Scope: Websites March 6, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in instructional design.
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I believe that learning is more than traditional “courses.” Of course, it exists everyday in the little tasks we do, or in conversations, or in browsing a newspaper. But sometimes, there are realms that, as designing, sometimes are forgotten as an environment in which to learn.

My latest project at work happens to be the design of our website. We have done all of the preliminary work – setting up the global links, deciding what will be a part of each section. Video and audio has been requested in the site. All of this is great, but I believe a website is another way to teach someone something. Our goal is to teach a viewer what we are about. And that requires a careful design of textual content, visual placement of components, and media to support.

Our main goal, I feel, is to utilize the technology in a way that we do not overuse the technology. To put everything we can possibly do onto the site with little regard for the user would be foolish. It is, in the end, all about that user. What will make them learn the most from this website?

 We have decided to create a site with global linking (a good idea for any site). However, I feel that to make a website serve its purpose, it must instantly tell the user what its purpose is and lead him or her in the right direction. The key to this (on the home page) is to put together a series of “quick links” that highlight the most important areas of the site. Although a user can find these areas by using the global links, someone not familiar with the site could be presented with this quick link button, be intrigued, and visit the page. Thus, we are teaching the user what we are about by highlighting the areas of our site.

These “quick links” must be simple and catchy. Add too much animation or interaction and you lose the user. There is always a fine line between cool and interesting and too much.

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