Posted on 3rd March, 2014 by LEO Learning Web Team
This post was written by Kayleigh Tanner and first appeared on the Epic blog on 3rd March 2014.
A new term, ‘broadband rage’, has been coined for the internet-induced irritation we encounter when our connection is slow and patchy. Broadband isn’t cheap, and many of us feel that we’re not getting what we’re paying for. Promises of ‘lightning fast’ internet from many providers fall well short of our expectations in practice, leaving us disappointed and frustrated. Speed is definitely an important factor to consider when designing elearning, but what exactly should we be thinking about?
1) Waiting times
We all know the feeling of sitting in the doctor’s waiting room as our appointment time slips away. We get irritable, frustrated and bored, and by the time we’re finally called in to speak to the GP we’re often keen to get away. If your content takes a long time to load, it will leave your learners bored and short on time, especially if they have an allocated slot for training time. Waiting 15 seconds for each page of content to load can soon add up, and it will leave your learners in the wrong frame of mind for a productive training session. A test house such as Epicentre will be able to identify any slow-performing pages so you can target these for an overhaul and improve speed.
2) Think mobile
Smartphones and tablets have very different technical requirements to desktop computers, as the power will be significantly lower on a smaller device. This means they have to work harder to load big pieces of content, such as large images or videos. A good learning designer will understand the different requirements and will avoid using any lengthy, unnecessarily high quality video footage or any giant uncompressed images to make it more mobile-friendly and quicker to load. Alternatively, you could think about using a multi-device authoring tool such as gomo to help you create something mobile-friendly from the very start.
3) Just-in-time content
Performance support is all about delivering learning material at the time of need. If your learners are about to go into an important presentation and want to view their ‘presentation tips’ resource on their smartphone, it needs to be quick to make sure it genuinely is ‘at the time of need’. If your video resource spends a long time buffering from its streaming location, consider making it downloadable. If it takes a long time to open, you might need to cut it into bite-sized chunks to make it more manageable for a mobile device.
4) Crowd control
Owing to its outdated infrastructure, Civil Service Learning (CSL) was suffering from average page load times of over four seconds. With more than 450,000 users and plans to rescale for 750,000 users, Epic took on the hosting of CSL to ensure it could support all these learners while reducing page load times. Over one weekend, we facilitated the migration to a new hosting space, allowing us to reduce page load times to 1.5 seconds and support three times as many interactions per hour without compromising the site’s performance, meaning the site was immediately made more scalable, stable and ultimately, user-friendly.
If your elearning solution is feeling old and tired and can’t live up to the speed requirements of your organisation, we would love to hear from you. Epic has many years of experience creating elearning, and we would be happy to help you find the perfect solution to suit your needs.