Considering global UX in online learning content

March 3, 2020by Rebecca Metcalf
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Considering user requirements and user experience (UX) for each of your target markets is essential to delivering high quality online learning content that hits the mark for a global audience. At Rubric, we’ve worked on countless online learning projects, and we’ve found that this is something that clients often miss.

You can do all the testing in the world, but if you haven’t thought about what your learners actually need, your testing could be wide of the mark. What’s more, it can be easy to over-test or over-localize, focusing efforts in the wrong places and expending resources where they aren’t needed.

In this blog, we’ll examine the key UX considerations that can help you improve the quality of your global online learning content, while reducing the cost of testing and localization.

 

What do global learners want?

The first step is to understand your learners’ localization expectations: what content needs to be translated, and into what languages? While users in some countries might want fully localized content, others might be fine with English, or a combination of translated and untranslated material.

Take audio and video, for example. Localizing voiceovers can be one of the most expensive elements of online learning content creation, but it isn’t always necessary. In some regions – such as Spain or Italy – fully dubbed voiceovers are the norm, but many other audiences will be perfectly happy with English audio and translated transcripts.

Learners in some markets may be happy with limited localization, whilst other learners will accept nothing less than perfection. Acceptance levels will vary by country, and also by context: an internal audience might be more forgiving than external customers. Ask questions to understand your learners and ensure your localized content aligns with their needs.

It’s also crucial to understand how global users will consume your online learning content – which devices will they use, and which operating systems? – so that you can plan testing accordingly.

By factoring these user needs into your decision-making, you can ensure that you are delivering the learning UX that each market expects, without wasting resources on localization that doesn’t deliver value. To learn more about how to streamline translation for instructional content, look out for our report on Best Practices for Online Learning Localization – coming soon!

 

Talk to your users

So we know what information we need, but how do we get it? Start by seeking input from colleagues or distributors based in the markets you are targeting. It should go without saying that these people will have a better understanding of local customer expectations than head office – and yet we’ve seen cases where local staff didn’t know that content was being created for their market until it came up for review. Involve these colleagues as early as possible and leverage their insight to get localization right from the outset, rather than waiting till the review stage where you may need to make costly edits.

Secondly – and most importantly – talk to your target audience. While staff might have a good understanding of customer expectations, assumptions don’t always line up with reality, and there’s no substitute for speaking to actual learners. If possible, conduct user interviews for each of your target markets to learn what learners are looking for.

Interviewing users may sound daunting, but you might be surprised at how willing learners are to share their feedback. Particularly in industries such as manufacturing, where online learning courses are frequently a requirement for professional certification, users will have a high level of buy-in. These people need to understand the content, so they will often be happy to have the UX conversation and contribute their opinions.

 

The best testing is deep and narrow

Armed with UX insight from actual users, once content is created the next step is to test it. We mentioned above that it’s important to consider how users will access your content, and testing is where that comes into play.

Given the immense variety of devices now on the market, it’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole trying to test your online learning content on every possible hardware and software variation. But by establishing which devices are the most common, you can focus your testing where it will be the most effective. In our experience, the best approach is to fully test the source content before localization to ensure all functional issues are resolved, then conduct comprehensive testing for a particular set of specifications for each market, and finally do more limited testing – or none at all – on other devices.

 

If you’d like to learn more about how global UX fits into online learning content, or how Rubric can help you streamline your localization and testing, we’ll be at OLC Innovate in Chicago this April. Come and meet us at Booth #316! Our co-founder, Ian Henderson, will also be delivering a presentation on how to convince management to invest in localization tools for online learning – don’t miss it!

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Rebecca Metcalf

Rebecca Metcalf

Rebecca is a Global Content Business Analyst at Rubric. With a wealth of experience in the localization industry, Rebecca’s focus is on expert business analysis of clients' global content needs, content and data architecture, globalization strategy and working practices. Key to her role is understanding a client’s process, what success and value mean to them, and what outcomes are required for quality content and ROI. Focusing on outcomes rather than outputs, Rebecca partners with clients to design solutions and frameworks that deliver long-term globalization success.

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