Design Journal 3: All things large and small

Note: My project is a module about the benefits of LED light bulbs over standard incandescent bulbs.

This week I’ve been thinking about both the larger structure of my project and the finer details. After my last post about starting my module with a authentic-task purchasing decision, I worked on some ways to develop that theme. What I came up with is a multi-path structure, as seen in the slide below. Note that these are very simple slides that I used to create the road map.

The module begins with the purchasing decision, which you see on the far left. If the learner chooses the standard bulbs, he/she is taken to the middle slide which asks the primary reason for that decision. Based on the response, the learner is taken to an appropriate path that addresses that particular reason. This approach has a natural flow from the starting slide, and will allow me to address the learner’s main concerns without overloading them with information.

But this structure does have two issues that I need to keep in mind:

1. How will the learner explore other paths once they get onto one? Many people might need more than one concern addressed, after all.

2. What if the learner decides that he/she is convinced, and wants to go buy some LED bulbs? I don’t want my users navigating away from my module without some important advice on selecting LED bulbs.

I think the best solution for #1 is to include a navigation element at the end of each path that lets the learner explore the rest of the module. This could be implemented with a “choose your reason” slide similar to the middle one above.

For #2, I’m planning to use a persistent button that says something like “I’m ready to start using LED bulbs myself!” This button would need to be noticeable, but unobtrusive, so I will include a starter slide before each path that lets the user know that it’s there.


I’ve also been thinking about Krause and his suggestion to never use clip art. In some projects, using clip art might not make much of a difference, but I see his point that giving your work a distinctive look is sometimes important. In a module like this, a presentation that looks amateurish has a definite effect on how the learner perceives the content, and whether they trust it and find it engaging.

At the same time, I’ve been evaluating lots of designs that I see around me using what I’ve learned from Krause. The animation at the top of this post from fivethirtyeight.com caught my eye in relation to what Krause says about shapes. The design of the donkey is very clearly made up of basic geometric elements, but despite its simplicity it looks clean and professional.

Since there’s nothing much in my chosen topic that demands elaborate visuals, my next step on the design end is to see how well I can do creating a few custom elements to at least be a visual guide for my project’s interface. I’ll start with some basic shapes and photos of the elements I want as a guide, and see where that takes me.


So now I’ve got the overall structure of my project figured out, and I’m getting an idea of how the smaller visual elements should look. As I move forward, I’ll be looking for ways that those two halves can solve each other’s problems, and work toward carving out the middle with the layouts of my slides.

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