So, you’ve finished the planning stages of a project, you’ve aligned the team with a single vision and the content has been developed. What’s next? You need to write learning design brief to help your design team bring that vision to life. These 5 key tips will show you how.
Communicating your ideas to the design team is easier said than done. It can be a tricky task, especially if they haven’t been involved in the process up to now. A brief that’s too open will result in the outcome missing the target. On the other hand, a brief that is too strict will produce design that feels like it’s been built in PowerPoint.
How can you strike a balance between giving the designer direction and influencing their interpretation? Follow these guidelines on what to include in your design brief and you will.
1) Define the concept
This may seem like an obvious one, but you can’t brief someone if you don’t know what you want yourself. If you send a brief without a clear concept, the risk of multiple iterations significantly increases. That can mean potential delays to the project.
Having a clear vision for the project in your mind is one thing. Communicating it is another. Make a list or a mind map of your design ideas about a project and then distil that into a tangible plan for the overall project feel. This then gives the design team an understanding of the end goal.
You can be as succinct or specific as you like, as long as that core concept is there. That could be a one-sentence mission statement, or a larger framework of ideas, but always come back to your main design objective.
2) Know the audience
Who is the target audience of this project? Why is it being created? How will it be accessed? These are the things that will inform a designer’s decision-making and shape the project.
Looking at the target audience of the project will influence the design decisions made along the way. For example, if the project is a mobile-first scenario-based quiz, the way the interface is designed could vary considerably depending on how the audience is identified in the brief.
Are the employees generally tech proficient? Great, we can include navigation that relies on gesture-based interactions. Try that on an audience with low exposure to technology that isn’t swipe-savvy, however, and you have a recipe for trouble.
Each audience has a specific set of requirements that inform how far design boundaries can be pushed. You need to consider those requirements and communicate them to the design team in your brief.
A great way to do this is to include a profile or a biography about a fictitious character within the target audience – a kind of learner persona. Include details about their interests and preferences. Have a wider audience? Create multiple personas.
3) Be clear, be specific
Once you have established your concept for the project and given an insight into the audience it’s time to fill in the details of the main content. There are two key tenets here: be specific and be creative (one of Saffron’s key principles is ‘Straight talking, clear thinking’, and we apply that to our entire design, operations and way of being).
Make sure you include key pieces of information throughout the learning design brief to guide the design team through the project and keep their thinking aligned to the learning objectives. Including ‘stage directions’ for the designers allows them to interpret for themselves whilst staying on brief.
Being specific also mean including examples for the designers to work from, giving them more of a visual insight into your thinking. Even if you’re setting an open brief and aren’t supplying a reference, you can still be specific in the information you do give by carefully selecting the language you use and how you frame the project.
4) Select the right examples
Following on from the last point, when including examples, it’s key to include the right kind. Consider how the example will alter their interpretation of the brief. Is it making design decisions for them?
For example, if the project requires a drastic visual change from work previously produced, providing the design team with reference to an old project will influence how they approach the brief. Especially true if the two projects are working from the same brand guidelines, showing examples of how someone else has solved the problem will often result in a similar solution unless you’re clear that the example is what NOT to do.
You need to frame examples correctly. Simply giving an example of work and saying “we like this, make it like this one” will not give the designer any creative freedom. It will just restrict their ability to tailor the experience to the user resulting in bad UX.
Instead, think about why you like the example and explain how this can be applied to your project. Is it a great understanding of the user that has led to a certain functionality? Is it that the project design immerses the user from the outset? How does it do so?
An example doesn’t have to be limited to the good. A bad one can be just as useful if you highlight why it fails and how you can avoid or fix the issue. Doing this kind of deep dive in your learning design brief helps your design team out immeasurably.
5) Allow a project to develop
We’ve talked about being specific but allowing room for a project to grow is equally important. Being too specific results in a subpar project – it’s that balance we referred to in the introduction.
Walking that fine line is possibly the hardest thing about writing a learning design brief. It’s easy to get carried away with the details of how each interaction works and where you want specific things to be. Not only will this result in the design team becoming disengaged, but you also run the risk of making unforeseen issues harder in later stages of the project.
So how do you give clear instruction without making all the decisions? The answer is to break down the key things that are essential to the project, and then to supply ideas or suggestions for the secondary information that will bridge the gaps. Allow the designers to work within the concept you’ve set, and this will result in a free-flowing learning experience that feels natural to the end user.
To recap, the key framework for a good learning design brief is as follows:
- Have a clear concept that will become the reference point for all ideas
- Give the design team an insight into the project audience
- Be clear and specific, especially in your main content section
- Include the right kind of examples and deliver them in the right way
- Allow the project to develop without micromanagement
Finally, here’s a bonus tip. When all this is over, give feedback to your design team. We love to hear it! Come back to the brief and evaluate the design outcomes from it, giving actionable feedback.
For example, “the overall user experience of the design works well, but I think having the home button inside the burger menu will disrupt the experience by increasing the number of clicks” is much more actionable than “The user experience could be better, there are too many clicks.” Being specific will allow the designers to focus on the exact issue that you have raised, outlining a clear problem and why you are raising it as an issue.
So there we have it, you’re ready to get out there and write a learning design brief that sets your designer on track for the perfect project. What’s your best tip for briefing a design team? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.
Change. It has the potential for growth in the face of accelerated technological advancement. But employees are only human and we tend to resist change. As the skills gap yawns, how do we help people get past the resistance and into action? How do we then get them into constant adaptations of change to help our businesses to survive?
The workshop will take place at LEARNING LIVE, etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate on 6 September. Noorie Sazen, Saffron CEO and digital change expert, will guide learners through building a learning strategy that keeps pace with the modern work environment.
Change is the source of all growth, but employees are only human and tend to resist it; it can be hard to gain traction for change initiatives. As the digital revolution gathers pace and the skills gap yawns, how can organisations help people get past resistance and into action to adapt and help the business to survive?
Saffron Developer Intern Georgi Damyanov reveals his top 10 takeaways from a year in Development at Saffron. Code, business, and… beer?
Change or die. Adapt to survive. It’s not just a biological imperative, but also a business one – now more than ever. It’s the stark choice facing almost every organisation.
You might think I’m being a little dramatic. Well, more than half of the companies on the 1999 FTSE 100 were no longer there in 2015. Many have been ripped apart by their competitors or become entirely extinct. It seems like every day we’re seeing a stampede of cutbacks, job losses, profit warnings, takeovers, even administrations and bankruptcies.
The free session will take place at London Olympia on 12 June. An expert panel will answer audience questions and discuss practical strategies for effective and successful change programmes, including real life examples of how to keep up with the relentless pace of change in the digital world.
Saffron Interactive and Maternal Mental Health Alliance making sure perinatal mental health is Everyone’s Business
Saffron Interactive, award-winning digital learning technology company, has redeveloped the Maternal Mental Health Alliance website, helping to improve the delivery of vital resources to women with perinatal mental health issues.
With 25 May 2018 fast approaching, the pressure to get your GDPR compliance training in place is mounting. But, for once, Google isn’t much help. A simple search for ‘GDPR training’ yields nearly 3 million results in less than a third of a second. Narrowing the search down to ‘GDPR training London’ only halves that number of results, still leaving us with 1.5 million options to wade through. How do you know where to begin?
We all know that poor user experience can actively hamper learning. But on the flip-side, a positive user experience can take user engagement to the next level and cement real behavioural change. By creating a UX that’s designed to delight and feed our brain’s cue-response-reward cycle, you can create microinteractions that really can enhance emotional investment in learning and application.
As consumers, we’re a demanding bunch. We expect personalised, relevant, instantaneous information at our fingertips, and what we expect in our daily lives inevitably filters down to our expectations of workplace learning. Learners know that if they need information, it takes a matter of seconds to find it on Google. The problem is, that information is often far from relevant, and even further from your organisation’s policy or culture. We need to compete with Google by creating point-of-need learning tools that essentially offer learners a better service. No mean feat.
I recently attended the Learning Technologies show, and one of the most useful seminars I saw was called “Does VR training really work?” It confirmed my thinking about what constitutes a truly useful application of VR in learning, rather than just a fad or an ego project. We’ve taken a look at the new dimensions VR can open, and some of the ways in which it might be overly hyped. But what exactly are the training scenarios it fits best? VR could be either the greatest learning asset, or a huge waste of money, depending on your VR learning needs.
VR has been getting massive attention in every field, with learning and development being no exception. Even back when it was still in its formative stages, before VR devices were publicly usable, everyone imagined the training potential. Clearly, simulations are immersive and make learning transfer and application more easily achievable. And what can take simulations to another level entirely? VR.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning learning technologies and consultancy provider, has continued to grow in influence in the digital learning sphere, increasing its rating in the 2018 Fosway 9-Grid™ for Digital Learning.
Saffron will unveil eaSe, their new point-of-need learning tool, on Stand E9 at this year’s Learning Technologies show. The event takes place on 31 January to 1 February at Kensington Olympia, London.
The technological revolution is changing every aspect of our lives, and the fabric of society itself. It’s also changing the way we learn and what we learn. Factual knowledge is less prized when everything you ever need to know can be found on your phone. There’s no imperative to be an expert at doing everything when you can watch a video on YouTube and then emulate it, as so many of us do.
But how do L&D keep up with technology in a large enterprise and keep pace with the way that people are absorbing and using information? How can this still feed into the strategic priorities of the organisation – which themselves are constantly changing? How can all of this change be implemented quickly and make an impact as well as be cost effective? These are the questions that organisations have been grappling with, and they’ll only become more pressing over the course of the next few years.
I don’t have the space in this blog to talk about how we at Saffron are helping clients with the answers to those questions! I do, however, have time to talk about one potential angle of attack, sparked by the book I’ve been reading, Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration by Karl M. Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll.
It’s official – Christmas is well and truly over. The tinsel and decorations have been put away for another year and the wrapping paper’s in the bin. No more lazing about in pyjamas all day watching festive films. No more reaching out for one last mince pie. It’s time to look to the future and think about what you’re going to achieve in 2018. So, this January, (like every January), I’m joining millions of people around the globe who are making new year’s resolutions and promises.
You may well be one of those millions too. And even though 80% of us will have broken our resolutions by February, it’s inevitable that we’ll repeat the process when January 2019 rolls around. Why do we put ourselves through this? Well, as humans, we’re on a never-ending journey of self-improvement, constantly striving to be better.
But where most fail, some succeed. How do they do it?
It seems that for anything we can improve at, there’s an app to track it and make it quantifiable.
Humour (if done well) can really make a learning course stand out. It creates a more relaxed environment in which learners feel more open to trying things out. No one minds getting things wrong – a great way to learn – if they’re having a laugh. Humour in learning (if done well) also reverses the tone of top-down authority which learning courses so often adopt, and it fosters an emotional connection between learner and learning.
Those warm fuzzy feelings have a tangible benefit. Humour (if done well) is one of the most effective ways of engaging learners. Neuroscience shows that when we laugh, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter which activates reward-motivated behaviour and participation. So it not only biologically invests learners, but also increases retention. With all that in mind, why wouldn’t you turn your learning into Seinfeld on steroids?
Winter is here. The long dark wait for the next season of Game of Thrones has begun. This break from the action allows me time to ponder a question that I’ve been asking myself for a while now. What exactly makes it one of the most popular TV shows in the world?
The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale set another ratings high with 16.5 million viewers of the live airing alone, and this insane popularity shows no sign of abating. George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series, ably brought to life by HBO, has been compelling enough to capture the hearts and minds of people around the world. In the digital age, it may just be the most streamed and downloaded TV series of them all. Not bad for a fantasy epic set in a magical medieval kingdom.
But what have dragons and drama got to do with elearning? How might we take the elements that make it such a phenomenon and use them to make learning that’s just as popularly consumed? After all, using pop culture in learning can have tangible benefits.
It’s accepted wisdom now, at least in enlightened circles, that a learning or content management system needs to have the learner’s user journey and experiential needs at the forefront of their minds. At the basic level, every platform should ensure users can easily navigate and interact with the system and, in the age of the social LMS, with each other. But let’s look at 10 ways to use heuristic evaluation to make that user experience so smooth that learners will just keep coming back for more.
If they’re not getting the right training, that is. If you’re not developing your team properly, they’re 12 times more likely to leave. And if they leave, good luck replacing them, as the chance to learn new skills and grow professionally is the #1 driver for talent to join an organisation.
That 40% is a frightening number. Yet it’s easy for those of us in the learning and development community to become complacent and think it couldn’t possibly apply to our organisation, given how much of our time is taken up by delivering training. However, two out of every five employers have provided no training at all within the last twelve months, and for the three out of the five that have, plenty of it isn’t hitting the mark.
This deficiency in learning provision not only reduces productivity and efficiency, it also disengages employees, leaving them feeling both stranded and uninspired. In the worst cases, they can become a drain on others’ time by requiring frequent guidance, or just stop trying to develop entirely.
How can we, as learning professionals, remedy this disengagement stemming from insufficient or inadequate learning opportunities? The truth is that for learning to be truly effective, you can’t just put your learners through a formal training session and send them off into to the workplace, to be dragged back in in another six months.
Over the last few decades, HR has been afflicted by bad press. Labelled with questionable misnomers like “human remains,” it’s suffered from employees and board members’ lack of faith in its:
- Business acumen
- Financial capability
- Global perspective
- Customer focus
In short, it’s not been perceived as adding value to an organisation, but rather as a cost. Sweeping changes to the world of work in the near future will mean this perception needs to be changed, but how can it be?
Saffron Interactive stays at the cutting edge with 10 years “Accredited Learning Technologies” status
Saffron Interactive, a leading provider of transformational digital learning experiences, is entering its tenth consecutive year of accreditation by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI).
I was lucky enough to have really cool teachers at school – you know, the type who taught game theory using the bar scene from A Beautiful Mind, or aspects of US government systems using episodes of The West Wing, or Freud’s idea of the Return of the Repressed using the opening episode of the 2nd series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Making a connection between whatever you were learning about and the big TV shows of the day, a classic film, or a national sport would instantly attract the full attention of us pupils and automatically attribute a degree of Awesome to the teacher. Suddenly something we already cared about was relevant to the lesson; so of course we were going to be more engaged, pay more attention and be more likely to recall that lesson. They were using pop culture in learning.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, will be exhibiting on stand B160 at the free World of Learning two-day event on 17 and 18 October at the NEC Birmingham.
Now that the final version of iOS 11 is available to download complete with ARKit capabilities, the app store is overflowing with AR apps to explore. Apps such as Ikea Place have been spearheading the flood of AR puzzles, games and tools making their way onto consumer phones across the globe in the last few months.
As much as I’m excited by the prospect of adding random AR GIFs to my surroundings, the sparkle of some of the more frivolous apps will begin to wear off very quickly. Once AR fever dies down, we’ll be left asking an important question: what value does AR add to an experience?
Agile, adj. – able to move quickly and easily. Is that how you would describe a standard approach to project management? Probably not. However, the agile method is an increasingly popular mode of project management and software development that tears up the process rulebook. It represents a method that’s more suited to the fast pace of the modern business environment, where requirements and risks can change at a drop of a hat. Taking up an agile approach allows your organisation to adapt to these changes much more quickly than any traditional method.
Saffron Interactive, award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, has been shortlisted for Best learning technologies project – international commercial sector at the Learning Technologies Awards. The nomination comes for their work with Amec Foster Wheeler on developing a global programme entitled Pathway to people management.
Whether designing websites or learning experiences, one of the issues a developer needs to consider is accessibility. This means being able to design content that can be consumed by as large a target audience as possible, including those with any form of sensory impairment. A key feature that is often overlooked when striving for accessible design is colour selection, and how the eyes perceive these colours. This article will take a look at how to properly use accessible colour design whilst keeping your design vibrant.
“You don’t have to be an Ad to work here, but it helps” — how Strategic HR will be the new Don Drapers
As HR moves from the operational to the strategic there are going to be changes.
HR is now responsible not only for the operational needs of payroll, reward and recruitment, but also for growing the greater brand culture.
Culture is of course all-important from a compliance perspective. From Travis Kalanick at Uber to Trafigura dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, movements fail not because the controls were too lax but because the value culture was absent amongst the worker population. Likewise, I would say that for compliance breaches, reporting and process failures are not entirely due to ignorance, but because employees don’t feel responsible. You can’t police every infraction. You’re going to need strategic methods of improving compliance.
Things move fast in the artificial intelligence sphere. With Elon Musk and other AI influencers calling for a ban on automated deathbots, and an AI bot created by his own start up, OpenAI, now able to beat humans at complex games, a distant future of sentient robots doesn’t actually seem that distant at all. But how could these developments be harnessed to improve organisational or individual performance? Let’s take a look at some of the potential uses of AI in learning to find out.
We’ve previously covered some of AI’s potential applications in the learning sphere, and its limitations, considering whether AI could ever replace the blood, sweat, and tears of a human instructional designer. With the pace of change increasing rapidly, however, there are some steps which AI may well be taking into the learning environment very soon.
Modern slavery is still a huge ongoing global issue, with 20 to 30 million people still estimated to be enslaved in 161 countries worldwide, and 20 new suspected victims found in the UK just this morning.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires all businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to publish a statement setting out the steps they have taken, during each financial year, to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place anywhere in their supply chains and in any part of their own business.
It’s a small step towards greater regulatory control and awareness of modern slavery. However, the current issue with modern slavery reporting is twofold. Firstly, added documentation is often used as a salve for insufficient understanding resulting in additional paperwork being created, but little impact on-the-ground. Secondly, accountability tends to be pushed down the supply chain, with confirmation of good practice being asked of the next in the chain until we reach those with no interest in acting honestly, or who simply don’t care.
Learning could address both these issues of understanding and passing the blame, but it isn’t being used to do so. Here’s how it can, and why it should.
The expectation amongst modern employees is that work equals learning. Indeed, learning and development opportunities now rank more highly in graduate employment priorities than salary, according to EY. EY’s head of student recruitment, Julie Stanbridge, stated “we are seeing moves away from structured classroom-based seminars and Powerpoint slides to on-the-job learning in dynamic teams, and through working collaboratively on projects.”
This fits with the prevalent 70:20:10 model, as explained here by Charles Jennings, its biggest proponent, and further explored in his Insight article for us on the subject (coincidentally, I’ve just spotted Charles in our London office). Without getting too hung up on the exact ratio, the idea of the model is that learning and development takes place in three main areas. Only a small proportion (the 10) of this is through structured, prescribed learning. Of greater importance is the 20, representing the time spent learning from others, through mentoring and coaching. Finally, there is the 70, the on-the-job aspect where the learner’s everyday experiences constantly guide their learning.
We’ve talked a lot recently about the understated importance of user experience (UX) in learning, and how to improve it. But it’s not just learning or web design UX that are important to our everyday lives. In fact, the user experiences that have the biggest effect on us are physical user experiences.
What do I mean? Well, it’s any off-screen experience, from a trip to a shopping centre to navigating a hospital. Your commute, your grocery shopping, your evening meal at a restaurant… all of these are user experiences that have been designed, and so can be improved, as can our learning.
The session, “Serious gamification for serious threats”, will be facilitated by Donald H Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Skills Group, and James Tyas, Senior Instructional Designer at Saffron. It combines the most incisive insights on gamification and behavioural science from Saffron’s well-received Learning Technologies Summer Forum seminar with tangible examples from the course awarded CIR Business Continuity Award Initiative of the Year 2017 earlier this month.
Our last blog discussed how to take your learning UX and UI to the next level. This week, we’re going to take a slight diversion from the learning sphere to an area that we all experience as a user at some point or another – the web. Increasingly, though, we’re becoming not just web content consumers but also creators. It’s easier than ever for the user to become the designer, with a multitude of cutting edge web and app UI and UX design tools available to make that transition happen effortlessly. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best.
Deutsche Bank, one of the foremost European banks, has been announced as winner of a 2017 CIR Business Continuity Award for Initiative of the Year. The nomination comes for the work Saffron designed with Deutsche Bank for an innovative business continuity simulation.