ATD Blog

6 Simple But Critical Steps to Effective E-Learning

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

While many people try their best to create e-learning courses, very few of them manage to succeed. Effective e-learning courses are easier said than done; you have to devote your time, energy, and money to deliver high-quality product. Here are six simple but critical steps to help you create effective e-learning courses. (You probably already know these, but it’s a good idea to periodically review them.)

#1: Research Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is all-important when it comes to designing and delivering e-learning courses. You need to answer the following questions:

  • Is it a course for professionals or beginners?
  • What is their level of education and/or age?
  • Are there any cultural considerations we need to consider?
  • What are the financial constraints?

#2: Spend Time on the Intro

Your course introduction may only last a few seconds, but you still need to devote adequate development resources. Here are eight key factors to consider:

  1. simple and understandable introduction
  2. fully functional interface
  3. friendly support
  4. relevant, attention-grabbing content
  5. simple, error-free language
  6. attractive visual elements
  7. interactivity
  8. call to action.

#3: Remember the KISS Rule


Chances are you are already familiar with the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Remember that lengthy introductions and course content will likely make your course boring. Instead, try to have light, interactive content. Less is often better when it comes to e-learning courses. Perhaps you can use infographics and interesting pictures to relay information, but try to omit busy or complex media and backgrounds.

#4: Incorporate High-Quality Visual Design

Remember that it takes less than five seconds to form the first impression. And, as you probably know already, 95 percent of first impression in the web falls to design. The must-consider factors are color, spacing, alignment, and position. Add only necessary high-quality objects—as they are the first aspect to represent the learning experience—as well as you and your company.

#5: Know Your Value

In order to stand out from the crowd of competitors, your e-learning courses should emphasize its value right from the beginning. The best e-learning courses give clear reasons why learners should choose your courses. If a learner doesn’t see the exact value of the course right from the beginning, he won’t make an effort to use it. In other words, know what your e-learning course is really good for.


#6: Add Flexible Modules

Instead of wondering how long or short your online courses should be, you need to focus on its utility and adaptability. If your courses present useful information the person really need, plus your courses offer flexible modules, even the busiest person will find time to attend them.

Bonus: Try Special Offers

There is a common delusion that rich people don’t fall for special offers. Conversely, it is rich people who enjoy and look for discounts as a treasure hunt. To make your e-learning courses effective for the market, add special offers for using the course—depending on your target audience, of course. 

Share your own critical e-learning development factors in the Comments section. 

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About the Author

Paula Green is a New York-based IT specialist. She is passionate about everything that concerns technology. She is currently an independent contributor at

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