Navigation and Instructions in eLearning

What are your thoughts on activity and navigation instructions in eLearning?

I see it as a balance where enough instructions are given (or good user interface design) so energy isn’t wasted on figuring out how something works or how to progress … ? ? ?

Are you treating your new hires or people who do your online learning like they don’t have a brain?

Often I see instructional text for activities and navigation through eLearning content is done in a way that treat staff or the eLearning audience as though they’re thick.


Here are some ways I’ve seen eLearning navigation and instructions treat its audience like idiots.

State the obvious, obviously

Push next to continue… repeat, repeat, repeat, did you get that, do you know how to push next?


Only ever give instructions in text and make sure it includes lots of detail, okay now you can read the next sentence.


Always put instructions in for the lowest common denominator, okay now you can read the next sentence.


Never take into account previous experiences with technology, websites and adult learning – assume everyone is a blank slate.


Ensure no content can be skipped (I mean missed). The assumption is if you didn’t read it, see it or hear it here then you won’t know or learn it. Never mind how disengaged you are if navigation’s locked then you must have learnt it.


To save you getting lost you can move forwards (next button) or backwards (back button) only.


Blatantly state when it is the end of the module and give precise instructions on how to exit it – after all you don’t want them stuck in your eLearning course forever!! They’ve got work to do.


Give pointless instructions – if you wish to read these points you can scroll back to the top of the page 😉


I know I’ve focused on the negative on this post, I’m still getting surprised as I keep seeing the above techniques again and again. Company set eLearning templates are the biggest culprit for continuing these bad navigation and instructional practices, most allow for very little creativity room.

In my next blog I’ll give some examples of making navigation and instructions more natural and interesting to change the tone of the eLearning being delivered.

Have you seen any other navigation and instructional techniques that didn’t work or treated the audience like idiots? Please share and comment below.

If you made it to the here, let me know by liking this post.

Thank you. The end.

How to design elearning templates to fit a company’s brand


When a company is new to elearning one of their top priorities is to get the look and feel of any elearning consistent. This means all their learning products will look like they’ve been produced by the same people or place. Unless the company is outsourcing the look and feel to an external graphic designer this job often falls into the elearning instructional designers basket.

Most elearning instructional designers didn’t start off as graphic designers, so here are some tips on how to design elearning templates to fit a company’s brand when you’re not a graphic design expert.

Use what exists already

It’s likely the company you’re working for all ready has some look and feel styles with their internal and external communications. Look at the templates the company already uses e.g. standard Powerpoint templates, facilitated training templates. It’s also a good idea to look at the company’s external and internal websites. If elearning will be designed for internal staff the staff intranet is often a good starting point.

What features to include in the template?

Colours: by looking at the company’s internet and intranet pages you’ll be able to see what colours brand the company. Use the same colours in your elearning templates so they look like they belong to the same company and brand.

Company logo: From looking at the websites you should be able to identify the company logo or image that can be incorporated into your elearning templates.

Graphic features: Look to see what type of graphical features you could borrow from the company’s websites to incorporate into your elearning templates. This can include the type of imagery whether they use photos, animations, or clipart to get their message across.

Navigation features: You could also navigational features of their website to inspire the navigation features in your elearning template, for example, the buttons or menus on their website.

Here’s an example of a quick mock-up on a NZ bank company (done for demonstration only).

The company’s website

Internet site

 Example elearning template to fit company’s brand

co-op elearning template

It can also be useful to talk to the marketing or communications department to check there is no planned rebranding coming up that will effect your elearning templates.

What else you consider when developing an elearning template?