The cornerstone of a great learning platform is a great LMS.  Is yours?

  • Katherine Guest
  • Sep-01-2021

We are frequently asked to make a feature look or function like something from one of the top-tier LMS providers, yet when we look closely, the design is often lackluster and we have to educate the customer as to why we wouldn't change how our feature works.

Recently, a customer showed us another LMS' search page; they thought it looked attractive because it populated even before the user entered a search term.  It appeared to be trying to bring thousands of items in the catalog down to the user, but because of its carousel presentation, the first five items starting with the letter 'A' appeared every time the user opened the search window.  Not only is this completely useless for the user, it's a drain on performance, and it's definitely not practical to sync that much information down to a mobile device that's capable of working in a highly desired offline mode.

Our approach is to encourage the user to enter a search term or phrase directly from the home page of the portal, then refine that with an Advanced Search pane with filters like Type, Category, Language, etc. from the initial Search results screen.  And this filter pane doesn't need to be open to the user unless they need it.  For customers with smaller catalogs, the user will likely find what they need without the distraction of a list of filters to manipulate.

There is a reason Google's interface is a simple search field to interact with.  Even with all its battalions of servers and near-infinite processing resources, Google understands the importance of getting the user to narrow down the field of available choices before rendering results.

A great LMS is one that considers the user experience to be as important as the list of features/functions in an RFP.  "Do you support Search?"  Yes.  "Did you design it well?"  That should be the next question. If it isn't designed to perform well for anyone on any device at any time, and it costs the user extra clicks and presents distractions in the process, that might be just one indication of other compromises that may affect the learning experience for your users.