The KISS principle states that designs or systems should be as simple as possible. According to this principle, complexity should be avoided, as simplicity provides the greatest levels of user acceptance and engagement.
As instructional designers, we must focus on simplicity throughout the mobile learning design and development process. This is crucial, since many people use their mobile devices throughout the day (for work and play) and are skilled device users.
Begin with the End in Mind
Before you begin mobile learning design and development, you must understand your:
- Target Audience: Know your audience, understand its role, skill, and experience levels, and determine how audience members will engage with you.
- Device Environment: Find out what device your audience will use. Is it an iOS or Android device or a combination of both? If there is a corporate standard mobile device, then you need to design and test with that model throughout your project.
- Learning Infrastructure: Does the corporate LMS allow for off-line synchronization of content? If so, this enables you to design content that can be downloaded to user devices.
KISS GUI Design Tips
To keep your mobile learning interface simple, follow these tips:
- Keep it Clean: Don’t be afraid of white space!
- Minimize Graphics: Avoid complex graphics; when possible, use icons or images in lieu of graphics.
- Use a Single Column Design: Avoid multiple columns, and avoid the horizontal scroll. Remember, most mobile users are accustomed to scrolling down their phones for content (keep it vertical).
- Use Bullet Points: Avoid long sentences and use bullets to break up content.
- Limit Navigation Buttons: Avoid navigation buttons whenever possible and keep <Submit> and <Cancel> buttons away from one another.
Chunk Content into Small Nuggets
Instructional designers have always “chunked down” SME content into digestible sections. With mobile learning, we need to further break down content. Learners want to have just-in-time knowledge during the brief time slots they allocate to learning on their phones. So, avoid “cognitive overload” and only give learners essential information.
Ration Your Multimedia
Video, animation, and sound can enhance the learning process. However, for mobile learning, we need to be judicious in our use of multimedia. For instance, if you use sound, make it an additional option for users. Also, be aware that videos and animations drastically increase loading speeds (and they often don’t load at all). Try to optimize multimedia objects, ensure they are mobile-friendly, and provide links to external sites that users can access on their own.
Account for Single-Handed End-Users
The majority of users keep their mobile devices in one hand and use their thumb to navigate. Consider a single-hand and thumb while designing your mobile learning course. Research indicates that the average width of the adult thumb is 1 in. (which equates to 72 pixels).
Test on a Mobile Device
Once you understand your learner’s device environment, you will need to ensure that your mobile learning content is tested for compatibility on ALL devices before you launch it. Likewise, LMS navigation will need to be tested to ensure that registration and coursework can be done on a mobile device.
LTS instructional designers have years of experience designing mobile learning. If you are interested in joining our team, or if you wish to engage one of our mobile learning consultants, please contact us today.