Struggling with user interfaces

I work in Desire2Learn, a Learning Management System (LMS) or Online Learning Environment (OLE! – I prefer this acronym, for obvious reasons). When I work with a new student or a new teacher, I’m always reminded of something important:

I’ve used this before; they haven’t. It’s not obvious.

I know where everything is. Of course you click on Content. Where else would you click? You mean, you’re considering one of the forty other links on the screen? But you want Content… oh, you mean you would have called that something else?

We need consistency for e-Learning.

Students take courses online from our board and from other boards, and it’s very helpful for them if we use the same terms, put things in the same places, etc. It cuts down on the amount of adjustment going from one course/organization to another. But just how important is it?

I’m not renaming Content.

Don’t worry, I don’t want to do anything too drastic. But I’ve had several experiences in the last three weeks or so where people got a little lost in the system. I have a widget on the default course homepage that I called “QuickNav” that provides links to the mostly commonly accessed tools, and the feedback is that it helps:

QuickNav

(BTW, the icons came from the Open Clipart Library, an excellent collection of public domain SVG files, which includes the stuff from the Tango Desktop Project)

So, I’m thinking about reworking the homepages for the Semester 2 startup in February to make things a little more navigable. We are also upgrading to D2L’s LE10.1 in January, so that might affect things a little (I’m not sure how much yet).

Peter Anello (@PJAnello) pointed me to Barry Dahl’s slideshow from the Denver, Colorado Regional User Forum. It has several slides on homepages, so I’m considering that stuff. Anyone have any exemplary homepages they want to share, either Org-level or course-level?

The Point

I’m trying to simplify everyone’s life a little, especially the students’ lives. The interface should be simpler, and right now there is a bit of a cluttered legacy that I think is a barrier for people. I’m looking for help, suggestions, experiences… what works for you?

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