Now more than ever, the performance of eLearning and learning management systems (LMS) is critical. Increased dependency on digital resources around the world means not only more users but new kinds of users too. More parents are picking up education tools in their home. More teachers and students are transitioning into regular online learning. As a result of this, parents are using tools made for teachers and teachers are using teaching tools they’ve never used before.
Now is a really good time to review the performance and usability of your eLearning platforms as audiences grow and change at pace.
Keeping up with your users
For eLearning, targeting users can be quite difficult. Learning management systems can be complex tools and face a particular challenge, in that they cover such a wide variety of user groups, from HR staff setting up compliance courses through to secondary school teachers preparing tests. They cross businesses, schools and individuals, often all within the same tool.
This can lead to different user groups using a platform that wasn’t designed for them, it may be too customised and advanced or not customisable enough. And for the final end-users, content needs to be accessible and learnable.
Asking questions like “How efficiently can my users complete their key tasks?” or “How much learning is required for new users to get up and running?”, needs to be done more than once. Working with your key users early and regularly keeps you ahead of the curve and reduces the need for more disruptive, expensive changes later down the line.
One thing we see when testing learning experiences is that the journey a user takes is greatly impacted by experience – it can completely change their approach to things like navigation or reading. Users who feel they are more of an expert might try to take shortcuts, whereas new users will look for more visual and written support in their first journey, preferring information to be presented in a linear sequence.
Evaluating usability and validating journeys
We strongly recommend re-assessing your user groups and their current situations and considering how your platform works for them, and if it still works for them – even after widespread changes in context and behaviour.
User testing is a really good way to make contact with existing, or potential new users and find out not just what they think, but what they actually do and why. Moderated user testing allows you to observe real user behaviour on your platform, it strips away bias about designs and flows and creates really strong evidence for change (or no change as the case may be!).
Our fully-managed user testing service opens up a channel between you and your users. By recruiting participants with very specific criteria such as, learning or teaching requirements, we conduct user testing that accurately reflects the real world.
We will work with you to create a bespoke test plan with moderated user testing sessions that target specific journeys or features, or if you’re not sure where to start we can make recommendations on how to capture a baseline and set benchmarks for usability. Sessions can be conducted at our test lab or remotely from the users home and live-streamed simultaneously so you see the results as they happen. We will conduct a thorough analysis of the results, including metrics, comments and observations and produce a single actionable report for you to take away and review.
Scaling with user demand
The flexible, self-paced nature of eLearning is one of the biggest attractions for end users. Learning can happen from any location, at any time of the day. Users expect to be able to access content quickly and slow loading or downtime can disrupt engagement and demotivate learners.
Your platform needs to be able to cope with different volumes of user traffic and be able to scale with unexpected spikes in usage. Performance testing will reveal how your platform behaves and responds under different simulated user scenarios. Performance tests, such as load testing, will identify performance bottlenecks and breaking points to help you maintain a seamless and smooth user experience.
Our performance testing service is designed to provide realistic simulations of nominal to high user load on your platform. To predict peak performance and scalability levels, we increase the level of load to higher than normal peak levels to determine at which point the platform ‘breaks’ or becomes unresponsive; helping you to understand your platform’s behaviour and performance in the live environment.
Maintaining a seamless user experience
As more students, parents and teachers embrace eLearning, the key to keeping up with your users is to hear what they think and see what they do, whilst ensuring the backend systems can cope with their demand.
If you need help with the usability or performance of your application, we have a team of usability and performance experts working remotely in the UK. Head over to our Contact Page to arrange a call with one of our consultants today.