Usability is defined as the ease with which people can utilize a specific tool to get a specific goal. The usability of an object is determined by the extent to which an object is easily usable by the users. The basic point is that if a user can utilize a tool to perform its defined task without much trouble then it is usable. However, there are different degrees of usability for various tools.
Interface of any object makes it usable. Interface is the term used for the medium through which a user interacts with or uses an object to perform specific tasks. For instance, the user interface of a cell phone includes the display screen and keys. The usability of interface is determined by its design. A complex interface design that does not convey the accurate function of each of its element can scare off the user even before using the object. Therefore, it is essential for designers to keep the interface design brief so that the usability of the object can be increased.
How do usability and interface design affect e-learning?
E-learning is the abbreviation of electronic learning. The term is used for learning through an electronic media, or the combination of different electronic media such as the web, computer, and other technologies. Certainly, it needs an interface between the learner and the technology to provide proper learning. The ease with which learners can learn their selected subject without being lost in how to use the technology determines the usability of any e-learning program, and this usability is determined by the interface design of the e-learning process. We can say that the usability and interface design of an e-learning course can make or ruin its success.
Key to a better interface design in e-learning
After knowing the importance of a usable interface design in e-learning plans, the focus on building a better user interface is the next step. The basic user interface includes:
- Orientation. Orientation tells the learners about the part of the course they are being accessed, and the point where they stand within the course. An accurate orientation lets the learners to have an overview of how much has been learnt, and how much still remains. In this way, the motivation of the learner in the program keeps intact.
- Navigation. Navigation includes the keys and links that let the learners to access related information easily. Because it characterizes the agility with which a user can navigate through the information contained in the course material.
- Metaphors. Creating metaphors contains the decision of the premise of the whole program. Depending upon what type of course it supports, any theme can be selected. For instance, an educative program can use various backgrounds, names of the components of menu, and colors etc. The curiosity of learners can be kindled by creating a consistency throughout the course.
Testing the designed user interface on the end users makes it more convenient and user-friendly as areas that learners find difficult to use can be corrected and any suggestions by learners can be integrated. However, interface design should be finalized after testing it on the target audience to measure its actual usability.
Badly designed user interface and low usability of an e-learning program cannot be held responsible for its failure. Remember that a good user interface design helps in improving the usability of a program, and also motivate and encourage learners to follow the program till its completion.