Impactful Digital UX Trends in the Time of a Global Pandemic

The current pandemic teaches us that properly leveraged UX makes life more meaningful and lessens the inconveniences of social distancing.

For example, I needed a part to fix a leaky pipe during the lockdown. I wasn’t sure of the part’s exact size, so I had to go to a hardware store physically. When I arrived, there was a long, socially distant line outside. Mask on, I joined the slow-moving queue, and as I approached each 6ft marker at a snail's pace, I couldn’t help but imagine a better way.

 What if the store could spin up an app that lets shoppers pre-book a shopping slot? The app could be based on a First-Come-First-Served algorithm with considerations for people with special needs.

This way, shoppers would not need to wait in long lines and reach the spot minutes before their allocated shopping time. This is an instance of how UX can ease inconvenience, ensure safety, and ensure business continuity without hassles.

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely change how we work in the years to come, increasing the significance of UX in our daily lives.

In this blog, we demonstrate examples of how UX/CX is more critical than ever.

During the lockdown, people started to realize how dependent on technology we are. As more users look for information and services on the internet, user experience and usability become more beneficial to UX designers, developers, and users.

From financial institutions designing their digital products and services for support and transparency to government agencies providing relief over apps, UX has become a much-needed source of hope.

According to the latest from PYMNTS.com, online shopping spaces are flourishing in the U.S. based on the following statistics.

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These services have become increasingly popular during isolation because of the value-addition made by UX and CX on these digital platforms.

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Image Source: nypost.com

Users prefer managing financial transactions, mortgages, loans, payments, and more on a secure platform over their banks' visit. Transactions are quick, safe, and more reliable while assuring social distancing for those sheltered in place. Social media platforms offer uninterrupted entertainment. They also spread awareness, provide live updates on the pandemic situation in different parts of the world, help us stay in touch with loved ones, and allow people to reach out to those who need help during emergencies. UX on networking platforms is guided by practicality, accessibility, and cost-efficiency.

Companies do not have to spend millions of dollars on campaigns or conventions. Instead, they can continue to promote their business on social media platforms.

Similarly, with cinemas closed, people have become accustomed to binge-watching on streaming platforms like Netflix. The binge-watching phenomenon demonstrates the power of UX in this domain as well.

The seismic shift in the digital climate has expanded users’ horizons.

Telehealth services have been life-saving for patients and doctors alike. A recent survey conducted by OnePoll found a 154 percent increase in the use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

76 percent of respondents said they’ve utilized delivery services to get their prescriptions during the pandemic.

Online pharmacies, researchers, and doctors alike need tools with great UX design and functionality to deliver orders, find vaccines and get an advanced understanding of patient health issues.

Here’s how PMD has summarized Telehealth growth during the pandemic.

Image Source: Globe Newswire

Based on the guiding principles for Telehealth design, UX impacts these key areas.

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The UX design of Coronavirus case, risk, and proximity tracking apps like the John Hopkins Map help millions of users monitor the outbreak on the county and global levels. The intuitive dashboard provides insights on confirmed cases, deaths, and the fatality rate per region. The user dashboard also keeps a tab on the critical trends and recent developments in COVID-19.

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Image Source: coronavirus.jhu

Additionally, Microsoft AI for health introduced the AI for Health COVID data page that visualizes human progress against COVID-19 with real-time data analysis, interactive visualizations, and key metrics like COVID-19 Cases, Progress to Zero (P0), Rt, Testing, and Risk Levels. This has aided in the following endeavors:

  • Data and insights
  • Treatment and diagnostics
  • Allocation of resources
  • Dissemination of accurate
  • Scientific research

While essential and business travel continues with restrictions, travel for tourism is slowly opening up. The accuracy of apps about safety zones, weather conditions, the proximity of hospitals, and crowd density, backed by advanced intelligence, reliable navigation software, and an intuitive UX, make this possible.

Google Maps introduced COVID-19 related public transport information and direction alerts for local transportation on the app. The user experience includes features to analyze how crowded an area is at different times, provide driving alerts, and notify one about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along the route.

Apple tweaked its facial recognition software to make unlocking your iPhone easy while wearing a mask by moving right to the passcode or password screen when the user swipes up. This key enhancement of UX usability with AI embedded in image recognition is a game-changer.

Apple’s intuitive UX design made critical contact tracing tools more user-friendly and effective in lowering infection levels. Apple and Google also developed APIs that other apps can plug into for tracking and tracing.

The APIs help location-based apps, health apps, and COVID-19 tracking apps integrate and communicate with each other from their respective devices. You can read the detailed article here.

Imagine your mobile phone detecting when you haven’t worn a mask while stepping out and sending you prompts to do so. This is the kind of personalization that UX promises when it comes to the human side of technology.

Screens offer salvation to humans during the pandemic with remote home security control, pre-authorizing food delivery, kids monitoring, business meetings, virtual-cuddling your kids, completing a target, doing virtual tours of museums or national parks, celebrating birthdays, dating, and what not!

Yes, the human presence is missing, but UX can significantly uplift the human touch and experience on touch-based, sensor-based, or data-driven apps.

UX design pertains to easy-to-use interfaces, ethical interactions, intuitive flows, and a coherent, visually attractive design. In times like these, it elevates the human connection with technology to provide the aid people need during a global crisis.

At Radiant Digital, we enhance the human-technology connection with our experience in futuristic UX design. Connect with us for impactful UX designs for your business.


A Deeper Look at Design Consistency and its Influence on User Experience

Consistency is the most fragile design principle that influences user trust and familiarity with your UI design or product.

Improving consistency polishes the look and feel of your design. Additionally, it purges imperfections, unwanted content, or navigation flows that mislead the user.

Design consistency drives coherence and creates a harmonious uniformity among discrete UI elements. Consistency is fundamental for a good UX because it creates an experience that users can rely upon every time they interact with your brand or product.

The look and feel of a design make up the first layer of this trust relationship. Design consistency goes even further into interaction and behavioral patterns that users encounter as they utilize your products and services.

Creating this comfortable and familiar environment promotes continuous usage of your products & services and customer retention for your business.

Projects, at some point or another, run into consistency problems for various reasons. In this blog, we discuss the benefits of design consistency and some of its guiding principles.

Before that, let us take a step back and understand exactly what consistency means.

Consistency is when all the design elements behave similarly or follow the universally set pattern (content, navigation, actions, responses, etc.).

Why is Consistency Important?

There is more to design consistency than meets the eye. Ensuring consistency means developing a detailed and well-thought-out approach during the design phase of your site: defining, planning, designing, and testing with consistency in mind can save many setbacks during various stages of the design process.

Design consistency improves usability and learnability, especially when similar elements look and function similarly. When consistency is an integral part of your design, people can grasp new contexts quickly without pain or confusion since they know what to expect next with your design.

Contextual consistency is key to ensuring that users can focus on executing the task instead of learning how the UI works whenever there is a context switch. Consistency creates a balanced sense of security and reliability, which fuels a better user experience.

Benefits of Consistency

Image Source: Laura’s Design Studio

More effective Memorization leads to faster usage

Consistent designs add clarity and render frictionless user experiences on your interface. A user will instantly identify the brand and what it represents. A consistent UI is like a universally understood language.

Users execute tasks faster once they get the hang of your design (due to its consistency).

Consistency is synonymous with instantaneous memorization, which is essential to appeal to users emotionally and gain their trust.

Consistent Designs Eliminate Confusion

Clear communication minimizes confusion in the users’ minds, improves their use of your UI, and leads to better achievement of their goals through streamlined actions.

Consistency Saves Time and Money

When consistent designs are built with predominantly predefined components, designers and stakeholders spend less time disagreeing over the UI design's nitty-gritty.

Consistency adds standardization, reduces the number of design iterations, and keeps unwarranted expenses at bay.

Consistency Helps with Universal User Feedback

A branding message or UI design needs to reach out to diverse users with varying preferences and goals. However, with a consistent design, collecting user feedback and implementing changes is simplified since users' experience is universal.

Consistency makes it Easier to Reach Specific People

By applying the same design rules and principles when creating new promotional materials for your brand, you can reach out to the previously determined target group.

You gain the confidence of your target group by pursuing coherence for your design’s visual identity.

Evokes a Strong Emotional Response

An impeccably designed UI evokes users' right emotional response, which allows them to make a strong connection with your UI and stay on your site for longer. Emotions drive user decisions, which is why it is vital to design an impactful and relatable UI while maintaining visual consistency.

Types of Consistency

Designers often work on design projects that have a real-world (bricks-and-mortar) presence. The brand message, font, color scheme, content flow, etc., must be consistent on your website and in the bricks-and-mortar location.

Here are the different types of consistency that users look for in a design:

Visual consistency

5 benefits of consistency of the visual identity | Lukas Ociepka ...

Image Source: lukasociepka

Similar visual elements make up for visual consistency, which increases product learnability. Fonts, buttons, labeling, sizes, naming conventions, and the like must be consistent across the product mediums (business cards, collaterals, calendars, etc.). Some of the elements to be considered include:

  • Typefaces (colloquially “fonts”)
  • Colors
  • Whitespaces or negative spacing
  • Illustrations / photos
  • Shapes
  • The arrangement of individual elements
  • Proportions

Functional consistency

Controls that work similarly make up for functional consistency; they impact how the user predicts the control's usage and its outcome. Predictability leads to users feeling satisfied and trusting the product design.

Image for post

Image Source: uxdesign

Internal consistency

Image Source: Newt Idea

Combining both visual and functional consistency in your product design improves your product usability and learnability.

External consistency

External consistency pertains to design consistency across multiple systems/products/branding platforms. The user’s knowledge for one product can be reused in the same context for another. Ultimately, this type of consistency eliminates a lot of friction and enhances the user experience.

Image Source: Newt Idea

For example, the user interface of Adobe products is externally consistent. This makes it easier for users to apply the same knowledge and start using Illustrator or other applications.

Where should you be consistent?

Many elements of a website’s design are shaped by their overall interaction goals and differ in various circumstances.

While there are no hardcoded rules, design and branding consistency can be applied for the following:

Elements

These include the location, orientation, placement order, and sequence of the footer, sidebar, search bar, or navigation buttons. Users get familiarized with these elements' location, so they should be kept in the same place on different pages.

Image Source: UXpassion 

Highly successful websites have elements placed logically for the users to predict, identify, use, and rely on.

Design

While a website's design can be rehashed, UX designers must be sure to use the same templates, logic flow, and branding theme everywhere.

For example, users will associate a particular color on your website with a link or action.

Mixing up color themes on different pages is a bad design strategy that confuses. Maintaining consistency in these areas will contribute to an attractive design and even standardize how users will get familiar with your design.

Design Example
Image Source: uxbooth 

Using three distinct typefaces in one part of your site confuses the user and is an incorrect design practice in the above image.

Visuals

Designers must define the typography, space, logo, colors, grid, size, and positions in one central place and then use them across the system/branding portfolio.

A strong visual hierarchy that distinguishes between the most and least important elements is paramount.

Using the same color palette across the product is a part of this endeavor. Ordering everything in a grid of your choice allows for all components' arrangement in a uniformly aesthetic way.

Interaction

Interactive elements should be consistent too. Although each user will choose to interact with your website differently, how your website responds must be consistent.

Things like external links opening in a new window, displaying images, displaying a status message, etc., are examples of user and page elements interaction.

Here are some of the design principles we at Radiant Digital swear by for perfecting UX design consistency.

  • Visual consistency & simplification – Make the design more fundamental at the planning stage, using more uniform fonts, colors, shapes, etc.
  • Behavioral consistency – Reuse design patterns that have been proven to work positively with your users. This can help retain customers or have them coming back.
  • Behavioral optimization – Design to make users perform tasks with either less or more effective work by eliminating redundancy or unnecessary work overload.
  • Unified experience strategy – Reconsider the ideal workflow for individuals working on the design project.
  • UX Culture – Understand and make other designers familiar with the core UX culture of your organization. This may include maintaining a handbook or a key process with priority levels for each design step.
  • Use Familiar Patterns – If people need to stick with your UI, design familiarity plays a pivotal role. This means they have experienced and learned your design and know how to use the patterns to their advantage.
  • Preserve Consistency yet Drive Change – Finding the right balance between keeping the design consistent and innovation-based change is key to hitting the right UX experience notes. The “secret” lies in understanding your users’ needs and reflecting them in your design decisions only when necessary. Small changes will help with the product evolution while keeping design consistency intact.

Ways to Build Design Consistency

Style Guides

A style guide documents the specifications of various design elements. Style guides go deeper and relate the essential styles and elements of the intended UI design. The detailed schemes relate to the sizes, typefaces, colors, proportions, and rules influencing coherence, which should be used when creating new material.

Pattern Libraries

A pattern library is a voluminous version of the style guide with more details on every possible design element. Pattern libraries usually come in three flavors:

  • Design Patterns
  • Markup Patterns
  • Content Patterns

These detail the design elements with guidance on their usage, including styles for headings, icons, texts, etc.

It is difficult to predict all the types of content you might use in the future. However, delivering content patterns to customers ensures that your designs are in line with their standards.

CSS Frameworks

You can use a CSS framework to help deliver consistency in a design using one-dimensional and two-dimensional structures. Some of the best CSS Frameworks we recommend are useful for maintaining consistency effortlessly.

Final Thoughts

Consistency can be bent but not broken for your UX designs. Having visually and functionally consistent UI elements is always a win-win for designers and users.

Some flexibility and creativity merged with responsiveness and consistency go a long way in making user experiences top-notch.

Want your users to feel comfortable, satisfied, and confident with your designs? 

Capture these emotions on-point and make user interactions with your brand exceptional. Rely on Radiant Digital for iconic designs. Call us today to learn more.


Applying Data Analytics to Improve Training Outcomes

​Introduction

Corporations spend billions of dollars ($370B in 2019) on training each year. Given this level of investment, it is surprising that a relatively insignificant portion of the expenditure is spent examining training efforts' efficacy.

For over 40 years, the Kirkpatrick Model, named for its creator Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick, has provided the most extensively used training evaluation guidance. The original model had four levels, but many researchers refined it in the intervening years. Now the model is often shown with a fifth level.

Model for Measuring Training Effectiveness

The following are the levels in the Kirkpatrick Model that evaluate the outcome of training programs.

L1  Reaction

Learners’ reaction to the learning intervention (training). Questions are subjective, e.g., do you feel that the training was beneficial?

L2 – Learning

An evaluation of the knowledge transfer achieved by the learning intervention. Questions are objective, e.g., put the steps of this work procedure in their correct order.

L3 – Behavioral Change

An evaluation of whether learners apply the desired behavioral change as part of their job function.

L4 – Business Results

An evaluation of whether the targeted behavioral changes are translating into performance improvements.

L5 – Training ROI

A ratio derived by comparing the cost of training development and administration to the financial benefits derived from the behavioral change.

Barriers to Implement Evaluation Programs

Many organizations find themselves unwilling to follow up their training dollars with additional evaluation expenditures. However, this is both counterproductive and counterintuitive. Only by gathering and analyzing appropriate evaluative data can any organization hope to produce and iterate effective learning programs. This maxim becomes truer the larger an organization becomes. Small behavioral changes at scale can lead to millions in benefits over the life of a learning program. Why are organizations (even large multinationals) so hesitant to employ sound evaluation practices as part of their standard operating procedures? We believe it’s because most training departments find the prospect overwhelming and lack the experience to justify broader stakeholders' justification. The questions at the outset of any evaluation effort may seem simple but can be daunting to organizations without that experience.

  • Where do we start?
  • Which data do we gather?
  • How do we gather them?
  • How do we analyze them?

Our Approach

The easiest way to ensure your evaluations are providing the requisite data to make decisions is to think about the data at the outset of your initiative. If possible, this should be the first step of program design, just after the gap analysis but before you begin delineating learning objectives.

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Figure 1: Continuous Improvement model for Training effectiveness using Analytics

Phase 1 – Data Identification

If you’ve performed a gap analysis, you will have identified improvement areas, even if relatively informal. It is at this stage that you should identify the evaluative data that you will gather. For example, if the gap was related to accidents on the job, the key performance indicator (KPI) that must be measured is the change in the number of accidents over a given timeframe. A learning program may have many such data points and associated underlying supporting data that must be gathered to make informed decisions on iteration, expansion, or cancellation of the program.

This effort is often skipped, but it should take place even if you never intend to evaluate Level 2. The reason why is related to one of the most fundamental premises of learning design: the purpose of learning is behavioral change. Thus, if you don’t know which metrics you want to affect, you can’t craft an informed behavioral change strategy. Subsequently, you cannot possibly create efficient learning interventions.

Phase 2 – Learning Design, Development, and Deployment

When armed with clear targets for the metrics to be gathered, learning design becomes much more straightforward. Instructional designers work with subject matter experts to develop an approach that elicits the behavioral changes likely to affect the metrics identified in Phase 1. Only that knowledge directly tied to the identified behaviors through learning objectives should be part of the design; anything not related is extraneous and should be jettisoned.

Phase 3 – Gathering Data in the Field

Implementing all levels of the Kirkpatrick Model can be an expensive and time-consuming process. However, it is unnecessary to measure everything. We follow industry experts such as Leslie Allan, who suggest applying the levels only as appropriate, our synthesis of this guidance:

  • Level 1 (Reaction) for all programs
  • Level 2 (Learning) for “hard-skills” programs
  • Level 3 (Behavior) for strategic programs
  • Level 4 (Results) for enterprise-wide programs or programs affecting tasks with high-cost impacts
  • Level 5 (ROI) for enterprise-wide programs or programs affecting tasks with high-cost impacts

Gathering Levels 1 and 2 is typically enabled by a learning management system and is relatively straightforward.

Level 3 may involve leveraging existing reporting avenues, or it may require new technology to be put in place to gather the needed data. For example, are workers performing every step in a given work task each time it performed? There may already be technology to measure this in an automated fashion, or it may require self-reporting, supervisor observation, or a combination of all three.

Level 4 will ultimately require you to gather the Level 3 behavioral data and the data related to the KPI(s) that you identified in Phase 1.

At this stage, the key to success is collecting data from multiple sources such as (1) Learning Management System, (2) Service Management Systems such as Service Now, and (3) Navigation data using UI Analytics tools, and (4) Surveys post-training. Though the data looks disjointed and discreet, it requires some knowledge of data aggregation and ingestion so that Data scientists and Analysts can draw the insights.

Phase 4 – Developing Insights

The Levels 1-3 data gathered in the previous phase include the raw figures, responses, feedback, and other logistical information obtained directly from the Digital platform. This data can be overwhelming and may not make sense by itself. Data has to be normalized for analysis and fed to analytics platforms to gain insights. Any insights gained should be compared with the objectives and goals. This is where the specialized skills of Data Management, Data Science, and Data Analytics are necessary to aggregate, persist, curate, train, and manage the data. Achieving the desired goals requires discipline and a commitment to constantly collecting and processing the information in a non-intrusive fashion.

Level 4 calls for a more rigorous analysis strategy because one must determine if the identified behavioral changes positively affect the bottom line. You could have a highly successful training program from a behavioral change standpoint, but it could fail to close the performance gap. This gap means that you failed to associate the correct behaviors with your identified KPI(s) and that the program needs modification.

Both Levels 4 and 5 require vetting from a wider stakeholder group with the expertise to reliably agree on the relationships between KPI(s), costs, and supporting behaviors. The effort and time involved make these levels only reasonable for large, high-impact programs.

 

References 

Phillips, J. J., & Stone, R. D. (2000). How to measure training results: A practical guide to tracking the six key indicators. New York: McGraw Hill.

Mazareanu, E. (2020, May 04). Global workplace training: Market size 2007-2019. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/738399/size-of-the-global-workplace-training-market/


Understanding Resilient UX Design and What Shapes It

Talented designers flocked to the web when it started taking over the world in the 90s. Innovation boomed while migrating from paper to pixels.

This significant move is still relevant today when designing for resilience.  This carefully orchestrated design move isn’t just about helping people prepare for disasters; it’s about shifting a designer’s cultural mindset to reflect the ways users think about business strategy and collaboration.

Resilient design is not limited to those designing major infrastructure. It relates to a shift in culture that applies these concepts across the spectrum of design areas while factoring in everything from seemingly minor product-level decisions to significant policies and systems on a societal level.

With design trends changing like seasons, it’s important to consider practical and evergreen creations (even if minor tweaks are required). Although Apple launches niche product models every year, recall the core of what keeps their products relevant - usability, design, simplicity, flexibility, and resilience.

Many factors influence resilient design aspects, but the significant ones are demonstrated in the image below.

Leveraging the Power of Prototyping in UX
Image Source: noti.st 

The Impact of a Resilient Design on Businesses

In the world of web design, designers are preoccupied with the here and now. Thinking beyond the present moment is reserved for contemplating the future—imagining the devices, features, and interfaces that don't yet exist.

In such a situation, businesses understand the risk of placing their bet on a bad UX design. On the other hand, robust design can be at the heart of both disruptive and sustained commercial success in physical, digital, and service settings.

Brilliant and resilient designs such as the Google Home Page or the Swiss Army Knife logo set the perfect example of lasting impact.

Compelling designs stand out from the crowd given the rapid change in consumer expectations driven by exemplary brands like Amazon.

Resilient designs blur the lines between hardware, software, and services and stand the test of time in business.

McKinsey recently evaluated 300 publicly listed companies' design practices over five years in multiple countries and industries. They collected more than two million records of financial data and recorded 100,000+ design actions.

Four themes of good design form the basis of the McKinsey Design Index (MDI), which rates companies by how resilient their designs are and how it links up with each company's financial performance.

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Image Source: Mckinsey 

The business value of design resilience is directly proportional to the revenue growth it brings and, to some extent, its impact on business continuity. Thus the four significant areas of a resilient design affecting business outcomes are shown below.

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Business leaders further responded to the McKinsey poll and delved deeper into aspects impacting these 4 key areas of a resilient design.

What Makes for a Resilient Design?

Since resilience is more of a quality than a requirement, a few features and design patterns contribute to UX design resilience.

Resilience to Use

Any digital or physical product needs to withstand use and changes that drive its usefulness. Anything that doesn't withstand heavy use, misuse, or even occasional carelessness ultimately adds to a design's burden.

Thus any resilient design should be characterized by,

  • Durability - This includes long-lasting and robust materials, construction, or code that naturally contributes to resilience.
  • Repairability - Durability becomes less concerning when a loss of quality can be replaced. For example, restarting your phone might fix a persistent software issue. Similarly, a small tweak in design would enhance its performance.
  • Improvement through use – Only a non-fragile design can get better with increased usage. Even a design that can be improved can add a burden to its user experience. The ultimate form of resilience in design is for a product to get better with use. This will obtain user feedback while familiarizing the user with the design and checking all the boxes for a seamless user experience. The more a user gets used to design, the more the design is appreciated.

Resilient designs can be appreciated based on how well the product handles imperfection. Imperfection stands out in a perfectly smooth area. Organic shapes, textures, and naturally imperfect designs often make added imperfections look better, a form of resilience to use.

Timeless Form and Function

As trends change, so should a design's ability to withstand that change. Any change that makes the design lose its value over time diminishes its resilience.

For most software products, like Apple’s, a platform standard is defined by the Human Interface Guidelines, for example.

Software products stay in vogue by using established and sustained patterns. In some cases, following platform standards can automatically help in the product evolution process and automatically adapt to new trends and updates to the platform.

Using Proven Technology

Sometimes, a design must pass the test of time to prove its resilience. PDF, for example, is as resilient as ever, despite lacking many features compared to web browsers. The program serves its purpose with simple features and has not accommodated drastic changes, like web browsers.

Reliability is critical and leads to the long-term use of a design. Testing a design through sustained use over time by a big group of actual users is crucial to its resilience.

Standardization

Adhering to a set of standards, especially an open one, simplifies designs and promotes resilience. Readily available tools and knowledgebase/literature make designs that meet standards more workable in a standard environment.

Standardized designs can also enable products to adapt and have their functionality extended beyond the original purpose.

An example is how a standard design for a bright user interface can turn dark at night on your iPhone and Android phones.

The Fundamental Quality

There is always a fundamental, underlying quality that determines how good it is at doing its job for many design categories. These are qualities that genuinely benefit all forms of use of resilient design. These tend to reveal the level of dedication and craftsmanship of its designers and engineers.

This fundamental quality makes the design more purposeful while revolving around that universal purpose that is genuinely beneficial to all forms of use. So, if a design needs to be simple, it has to revolve around simplicity.

If it needs to be more intuitive, the fundamental quality governing the design would be intuitiveness.

Universality 

Universality is the primary design principle that impacts a product’s (web/mobile) usefulness and growth.

As suggested by Time Berners-Lee, a design that is usable by people with disabilities and others is a benefactor of resilience.

The design must serve any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and any quality information. And it should support any hardware for stationary or mobile, and screens small or large.

Techniques that Contribute to a Resilient Design

In his book Responsive Web Design, Ethan Marcotte focused on three primary methods for resilient design.

Fluid grids - The option to use percentages instead of pixels has been fundamental since TABLE layouts.

Flexible images- Research carried out by Richard Rutter demonstrated that browsers were becoming increasingly adaptable to varying image sizes and automatically resized them. Thus, the innate dimensions of an image were never a limiting factor again.

Media queries- The error‐handling model of CSS lets browsers add multiple features over time. One of those included CSS media queries that drive the ability to define styles based on specific parameters, such as the browser window dimensions.

Here are some Key Takeaways that will help you Shape a Design Resilience:

  • Breaking away from fragile design requires a shift in your thought process. It means considering less-than-optimal scenarios and putting in the effort to address them.
  • The chances of failure increase when growing businesses work to align design, systems, and strategies to eliminate (or acquire) competition and centralize their offerings based on a specific market.
  • Making a design work across multiple devices and operable in different environments and situations makes it genuinely resilient.
  • Resilient design is present-focused while being considerate towards future changes.
  • UX designers can create a design more resilient by factoring in the blind spots and dramatically widening their design process to account for the unhappy paths.
  • Resilient designs can help products successfully operate outside of the best-case scenario (in their “happy path”) and under a broader set of scenarios to make products more robust and valuable.

Want to know how to make your UX designs more resilient, robust, and responsive? The design team at Radiant Digital can help evaluate your designs and add clarity to your design strategy. 

Connect us today to learn more.


Capturing Continuity of Knowledge Through Cognitive Task Analysis

Most of the work in the US today is mental labor as opposed to manual labor. As individuals get more skilled in their work and become experts, their value to your organization grows. Once an employee reaches relative expertise, their absence (or loss) becomes a significant detriment. But capturing their knowledge allows businesses to reduce the impact of absence substantially. However, effective knowledge capture is difficult because experts tend to have a high omission rate when attempting to detail and record their decision-making. Cognitive task analysis (CTA) is an empirically proven method of producing the most complete knowledge capture possible.

CTA is a method of interviewing experts to get fine-grained knowledge from them. It is particularly well-suited for safety-critical, sensitive tasks and large-scale training initiatives. Before proceeding further, we need to learn more about expertise, automaticity, and the human cognitive structure.

Expertise

Knowledge levels in a subject run from novice to expert. While novice is easy to understand, expert is a more ambiguous term. Compared to novices, experts have not only more knowledge but also a better quality of knowledge. They perceive large patterns within their domain, primarily because their knowledge is so well organized. This pattern recognition allows large amounts of information to be perceived and processed quickly that it almost appears to be intuition.

Memory

Cognitive psychology operates on the premise that humans have a severely limited amount of conscious memory (working memory), almost unlimited long-term memory, and an organizational system that allows the memories to function together and facilitate learning. Working memory is referred to as one’s focus, attention, or “consciousness.” This memory is where the mental work is done. Because it is so limited, we must use it efficiently. Chunking is one such way.

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A chunk (or element) is anything that requires a slot in working memory. Probably different for each person, chunks vary in the amount of information they hold. This amount is a function of the individual’s acquired knowledge in schemas, with one schema taking up a single chunk in working memory. More complex schemas contain and integrate more information into a single slot of working memory.

Consider, for example, a chessboard set at the starting position, except that the white King and Queen have been place-switched. For someone who has never seen a chessboard, the information present could easily overload available working memory because each piece’s location occupies one chunk. However, many or all the piece locations could occupy a single chunk for someone well-acquainted with the game. This increase in the information held in each chunk is possible because of the way information is associated with long-term memory over time.

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Development of Expertise

After extensive practice, a schema can become automated so that a task is carried out quickly, effortlessly, and with few errors without occupying any working memory. This leaves space available to address more difficult or unfamiliar tasks.

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Expert performance of cognitive tasks is not due to innate ability but is acquired through deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is tailored to a task, provides immediate feedback, and is repeated. It requires conscious, focused exertion to improve performance and is so fatiguing that it cannot last long.

In the workplace, getting the deliberate practice necessary for the development of expertise is not straightforward. The time spent on other work duties takes away from deliberate practice. However, training derived from CTA is a proven method for accelerating expertise development.

Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) is a generic name for various techniques used to elicit the information, knowledge, and method of performing a given task from experts. As an extension of time and motion studies of manual labor, CTA addresses an observable action by determining the procedural (how-to) and declarative (facts) knowledge, decision points, and strategies necessary for its appropriate completion.

CTA Process

Several authors describe a general procedure for CTA that encompasses roughly the same steps. These steps assume that a preliminary needs analysis has been performed. It indicates a need for the type of in-depth knowledge garnered from CTA, complex Tasks, have high consequences,  or whose performance impacts the safety or large amounts of capital or operating expenditures are good candidates. The process proceeds as follows:

  1. Preliminary Phase: Experts are selected, and the analyst takes time to learn the vernacular of the experts’ knowledge domain.
  1. Identify Knowledge Representations: Establish the framework of the type of knowledge needed, e.g., procedural, declarative, etc. Map it into tasks, sub-tasks, and supporting knowledge.
  1. Elicit Knowledge: Knowledge elicitation is typically in the form of structured or semi-structured interviews, live or recorded observation, self-report through, autonomic response, or some combination of these techniques.
  1. Analysis and Verification of Data: Transcriptions of the interviews are formatted and verified by the experts. The use of multiple experts produces better results.
  1. Formatting and Use: This information may become the primary source document during the instructional design of a class or training session. It may become the basis for a checklist or questionnaire for an evaluation or assessment.

Evidence

When describing the procedures necessary for a task, experts omit up to 70% of the decisions and vital information required to complete the task. However, through the iterative interviews, a compilation of procedures, and expert feedback, the procedural knowledge gathered through CTA far exceeds individual free recall.

From an instructional viewpoint, the procedures' completeness is irrelevant unless those procedures can be utilized to provide students with higher-quality instruction. If properly applied, the instruction developed using CTA-derived information will lead to improved performance from the cognitive perspective. When learners are given complete information, their cognitive resources are available for developing schemas and learning instead of expended in the instructional gaps and struggling to grasp the content.

In multiple studies comparing CTA-based instruction and traditional instruction, students receiving CTA-based instruction have demonstrated superior performance to those receiving traditional instruction in medicine, radar system troubleshooting, landmine detection, and computer spreadsheet usage. They have even demonstrated improvements in undergraduate biology coursework. Additionally, a meta-analysis found that, overall, instruction based on CTA offers an improvement over traditional instructional methods with a large effect size.  The same meta-analysis also revealed that studies in military and university settings demonstrated CTA-based instruction to be highly effective.

In Practice

The cost of performing a CTA is primarily a factor of time (of practitioner and expert) and the expert's opportunity cost. If the task is crucial or safety-critical, the cost will be negligible compared to the impacts of ineffective training. Furthermore, if the training is delivered to many learners, the cost per person trained diminishes rapidly. Radiant Digital is ready to help you with your advanced training by performing CTA-based instructional design —enabling you to build and maintain operational excellence.


The Explore Stage of the Augmented Reality Maturity Model

Recent advances in high-speed mobility coupled with an explosion in digital storage capacity have opened the door for Augmented Reality. AR is catapulting to the next level due to the ubiquity of high-speed wireless broadband connections, mass adoption of reality-based technology experience, and the limitless data store and continuous data streaming using IoT.

Consumer AR applications for retail, real estate, and other sectors are already present on hundreds of millions of smartphones (utilizing built-in cameras, microphones, accelerometers, and GPS). The development of new AR-specific chipsets from major chip companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia is lowering the AR price-point and driving AR application providers' entry into the market.

AR products and services are emerging as a significant-tech/media industry. AR is just starting to break out of its infancy; thus, the possible applications that may evolve in the future are limitless.

Enterprise Adoption of Augmented Reality

AR is the latest harbinger of productivity and cost optimization. According to a report by International Data Corporation in 2019, the global spending on AR could reach $160 billion in 2023, with investments in training noted at $8.5 billion and industrial maintenance at $4.3 billion.

According to Greenlight Insights, the worldwide spending on AR content and head-mounted displays will likely reach $36.4 billion in 2023.

AR's valued business application in commercial enterprise, the public sector, military, education, and other domains cannot be ignored.

Organizations often adopt an AR Maturity Model strategy to help manage return on investment. In addition to implementing AR solutions, Radiant instills this construct so organizations can realize the full potential of AR across the product lifecycle. We implement AR to facilitate tasks, provide access to valuable resources, and solve complex natural environment problems.

Radiant supports Augmented Reality solutions for manufacturing, utilities, logistics, telecommunications, and other industries with application development and maintenance.

AR ‘Explore’ Stage

The true potential of AR is evident when one explores its utility in various segments. Due to the quickly evolving technology and its looming broad adoption, there is a lack of use cases and literature to substantiate its implementation and applications.

In this light, the AR Maturity Model guides enterprises to use AR for product development, performance improvements, tackling business velocity, managing change, handling opportunities and challenges of connectivity advances, managing resource needs, talent augmentation, and at-scale operations.

Exploring or Exploration is the initial stage of the four distinct phases within the AR Maturity Model; it marks the information collection, value discovery, and insight-driven approach to AR. Here are some key points to note:

  • The Exploratory stage is the stepping stone to understanding the technology inside-out before manifesting it through products and services.
  • Exploration lays the foundation for all the other stages that lead to Stage 4 – Lead Generation, which yields the maximum benefits to an enterprise.
  • Researchers and AR project engineers research industry ideas, already implemented products, and begin to develop rudimentary use cases in this stage. This also involves exploring technology options like AI, ML, IoT, Big Data, 5G, and others and finding the best ways to integrate them, if necessary, to find the best fit.
  • Interest in AR could arise from anywhere in the company, including field service, training, maintenance, engineering, operations, innovation, and research.
  • Exploring may also include instances where the differentiating lines between AR, VR, and XR begin to blur. A collective realization that wearable technology is beneficial to workforce productivity may be the only driving force.
  • A collective awareness that competitors have started implementing AR may also drive organizations to take AR more seriously.

Here are frequent events of the Exploration Stage and their characteristics.

Activities

  • Learning about AR, VR, XR, and their differences.
  • Fathoming the landscape of AR software and hardware platforms and their interdependencies.
  • Gathering ideas from real industry use cases.
  • Exploring a singular use case or maintaining an inventory of potential use cases.
  • Using AR in a trial setup or simulated environment.
  • Understanding the key drivers of AR and its performance metrics to evaluate the technology.

Strategies

  • During Exploration, there is no commitment to a core AR strategy yet.
  • Adhoc- There is no larger plan at this stage for AR implementation or defined action points for various AR users. The organization may choose ad hoc devices or technology strategies.
  • This may contain one or more AR pilots or trials.
  • No complicated rules on AR activities and workflows.

Technology

  • Hardware-driven Device Strategy- Interest in AR may be sparked by using smart glasses like the Hololens or a demo of AR applications on mobile devices.
  • Purchasing a wearable or any other AR hardware device based on a hunch may solve a problem.
  • First experience with AR software implementation.

Content

  • Existing digital content evaluation for AR includes disconnected information, monolithic manuals, paper-based processes, and other scattered content.
  • One-off (and expensive) custom AR content development gives a sneak peek of what is possible with AR but could never scale.
  • First-generation digital task flow.
  • No real sense of the power of ubiquitous, contextual, and relevant content.

Budget

  • Limited or no budget or budget plans set for the diverse needs of AR.
  • An “innovation” budget is introduced that is shared and used by various departments based on discretion.
  • IT Role
  • Minimal IT involvement is foreseen.
  • These include enabling ports, proxy configuration, and mobile device management.

At the 2019 Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit, a broad swathe of organizations took part in a survey on when to start exploring AR. Here are the numbers on the different scopes of Exploration.

Conclusion

The Exploration Stage must not be taken lightly. It defines how soon and to what extent an enterprise will master AR through structured and unstructured learning and development.

Radiant Digital can leverage the available information and the depth of knowledge your enterprise possesses to take your AR journey to the next level.  


How Designing for Mobile is Different from Designing for Desktop

From desktops to smartphones to the ever-expanding gamut of connected screens and devices, it is safe to say that on-demand access to information is part of our lives. The way users interact with online content has seen a seismic paradigm shift in the twenty-first century; mobile is the definition of connectivity.

To state the obvious, the mobile browsing experience is significantly different from that of a desktop. Mobile offers the most user-friendly and convenient media use on-the-go while using desktops is confined to a specific stationary area.

According to Statcounter.com, the Market Share Worldwide for mobile browsing is 50.34%, while desktop browsing is 46.67%.

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Image Source: broadbandsearch 

Based on the above data by Broadbandsearch (2019), mobile internet usage is poised to grow exponentially and further eclipse desktop.

The one area where mobile does not surpass desktop use is online shopping. The image below shows the device-wise US E-commerce conversion rate until 2019.

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Image Source: broadbandsearch 

Connectivity is a necessity. Thus, companies need to consider the trade-off between mobile and desktop design (especially for web browsing) and adapt strategies accordingly.

Adapting strategy can mean anything from tweaking your website to look good on Android and iOS devices to responsive layouts, CSS media queries, and even building mobile-friendly applications exclusively for mobile-savvy users.

Today, designers are still scrambling to catch up with the game-changing digital design scene.

This blog will help you understand the differences between web and mobile design; to render the ultimate user experience.

Screen Sizes

A larger screen can accommodate more substantial content and information, both of which can be viewed simultaneously while adding more clarity to text and images. We expect a certain degree of content quality compromise on a handheld device. The placement of content also changes significantly.

At the same time, large screens become unwieldy for users on-the-go.

Placing too much content requires users to keep scrolling down till the end of mobile device screens. However, modern mobile browsers allow users to zoom in and out quickly and use adaptive font sizes to make the text more readable.

Content Organization

Placing relevant content logically and strategically on mobile and desktop devices is different. In other words, proper information architecture is crucial for designing for both mediums. Desktop devices support adaptive spacing and multi-column formats that support options like a left- or right-sided navigation menu, sidebars for widgets and ads, and space for card structures.

When designing a mobile user site, you must prioritize content based on the significance of its usage. For a website to look neat and convenient on mobile, you must display vital information at the top of the page, not use heavy content on the page, and use an easy-to-read font. The key idea is to make the page layout user-friendly on the smaller screen, as the minimal screen real estate requires a different approach to designing an interface than a desktop. Thus, when you must design for mobile, you must prioritize your users' needs in a fully functional way, as simply replicating your desktop interface on to a mobile experience won’t suffice.

Navigation

More than anything, how users access and navigate their web pages is one of the most important differences between the two.

Users will click on the desired screen object with a cursor to generate an event on most desktops. On mobile, users will use their fingers to tap or touch the screen to navigate or initiate an action. Menus and additional desktop options are accessed with right and left mouse clicks, scrolling, and various keyboard commands. From the phone screen, users will instead take advantage of different hand gestures, such as tap and hold, swiping, and tapping. How a user navigates their apps or websites from a mobile device must be considered serious.

Navigation on mobile is ideal along the top rather than down the side and closer to the right-hand bottom area since most mobile users are right-handed and can easily use thumb gestures for actions.

Gestures

Mobile devices allow users to take advantage of various hand gestures, such as tap and hold, swiping, pinching, and tapping multiple times. You can use gestures like swiping left and right to move between images in a gallery to enhance the mobile user experience. Adding gesture support to your mobile sites is a great idea for people who don't prefer moving the mouse. A user will use a keyboard and mouse on a desktop, clicking on indicated items with a cursor. One must consider these differences in the interaction when designing experiences for both platforms.

Ergonomics

The concept of mobile ergonomics has become even more powerful in the context of modern-day browsing. It offers comfort and portability on one device, and ergonomic mobile keyboards and other environmentally compatible devices provide full tactile usability to their users.

But when it comes to using the landscape orientation for viewing a video or content on mobile devices, bigger phones pose a problem. Each individual's typing and navigation styles differ, which is why a design that also supports wrists and joints to alleviate pain is essential.

One way to improve mobile ergonomics is to stack content vertically on the mobile screen. Stacking vertically helps mobile users stick to using their phones in portrait mode (preferred mode). A vertical phone fits more comfortably in their hands and allows for more comfortable hand gestures.

Menu Navigation

Desktop users can take advantage of a global header on websites and some apps, allowing quick navigation. Mobile screens do not share the same amount of screen real estate, and therefore must rely on other more creative options for accessing these features.

Many apps use a side or hamburger menu to access other features packed into it on a mobile interface. However, displaying multiple categories and sub-categories similar to desktop screens is difficult on mobile devices. As screen real-estate, multiple clicks/taps, and precision may get compromised for text links.

Single-menu designs for mobile incorporate expansion and contraction features, in addition to large text or buttons and vertical alignment, to accommodate as many options as possible.

Multitasking

Being able to run more apps or do more in the background is a true blessing. Poor multitasking support on mobile websites can affect the way you design them. Sometimes, filling and downloading a file in the background can cause errors or slow device performance.

On the other hand, mobile devices offer better multitasking when you are on-the-move. You can book a ticket, schedule a meeting, browse apps, share screens, and much more. Desktops offer the same multitasking benefits but in one place.

Thus, strategizing multitasking is imperative on mobile devices today after understanding what your target users need.

Form Filling

Web forms are great for online conversions, especially if filling them out is convenient. A poorly designed form can be a conversion-killer, so vertical alignment is an important consideration to make, as scrolling back and forth is tedious when forms are horizontally aligned.

Web Browsers and Apps

Designers may differ depending on whether you want to use a mobile or desktop for an app or browsing. Almost 86% of online smartphone time is spent in apps, and only 14% is spent on web browsers. It's quite the opposite of desktops.

Desktop browser features like bookmarking, printing, or opening links in new windows are not available when viewing web pages within apps (on mobile devices).

Viewing websites in mobile apps means crammed information in smaller spaces if proper information architecture is not considered and applied.

The load time of apps and web pages is faster on desktops because of the processor speed and bandwidth support. Mobile browsers take longer to respond, and JavaScript-intensive pages can run very slowly. A simple and optimized page layout for mobile browsers that use less markup and CSS is useful for slideshows, interactive forms, etc.

People and Devices

The context of use, or the individual and the tasks they wish to complete, is one of the major differences between mobile and desktop web experience. Put, mobile and desktop devices serve different purposes and are used for different reasons.

People use computers while,

  • Sitting at their desk
  • In an office environment
  • Randomly surfing the web
  • Creating content or working on long and more-involved tasks involving special features
  • Programming and performing configurations and technical tasks

People use mobiles while,

  • Looking for instant information
  • Performing a quick task like booking a ticket
  • Sending out a quick email or message or a quick file share
  • Chatting
  • Walking around or being on-the-move
  • Consuming content or using an app
  • Being at home, work, or other public places
  • Inventive tasks using AR/VR, multi-camera support, sensor-based metering, mobile contact list, RFID, IoT, etc.

Wrapping up

When designing any mobile website, it's essential to keep these differences in mind. By considering the points listed above in your website and application strategy, you can provide an exceptional user experience for both these mediums.

What are some ways to take advantage of the differences between mobile and desktop for your design projects?

Which do you prefer designing for, mobile or desktop? Let us know.

If you're unhappy with your current business applications' user experience, the creative design team at Radiant can help you change that for both desktop and mobile! Call us today.


Understanding the Benefits and Limitations of Microlearning-Based Training for Business

Small is the new big, and corporate learning is no exception. Learning is no longer limited to classroom environments or heavily structured learning. People, especially professionals, prefer learning on-the-go or in spurts to support their multitasking endeavors and convenience.

This ease can be achieved with modularized learning that is to-the-point and interactive. One technique, Microlearning, breaks large chunks of information into bite-sized nuggets to make content more comprehensible and to promote better employee focus.

The average employee only spends close to 1% of their workweek on learning and prefers to consume knowledge in short bursts; microlearning is a clear solution for the shorter, more concise transfer of knowledge and retention.

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is a method that incorporates purposefully small learning units and short-term learning activities. This method is usually used in e-learning and related fields in mediated environments. Microlearning meets specific learning goals in less time with better outcomes than the standard, in-depth training.

Microlearning is delivered using various media: video, audio, social media, FAQs, and short-form written content are just some of the common avenues of delivery.

On average, Microlearning content lasts between 3-10 minutes. If your content is longer, you may want to consider splitting it into smaller modules. Here are other characteristics of Microlearning:

  • Focus on specific skills, concepts, ideas, or topics.
  • Using a variety of mediums: text, presentations, infographics, video, audio, and gamification.
  • Usually designed to be delivered via multiple devices like mobiles, tablets, laptops, etc. (Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device).

Accessible from Anywhere

Whether your employees have to work from home (in the current COVID-19 scenario) or have to digest a quick bit of technical information on their way to a presentation, Microlearning has got you covered with anytime and anywhere access.

Small learning modules can be designed for when a learner has time. This flexibility allows for cost-effective information distribution, no matter where employees are located (without time zones impending learning).

Better Attention Rate

The digital age has impacted how we process instantly available information and our individual attention spans. Microlearning makes learning modules easy to process and gives a learner the option to come back later.

When learning is broken into 3-10 minute segments, it appeals to shorter attention spans and increases the overall knowledge retention rate.

Higher Completion Rates

With increasing workloads and looming deadlines, it only becomes more challenging to complete lower priority learning sessions.

Employees complete learning tasks that are small and easy to finish. Thus, Microlearning promotes a higher completion rate and closes skill gaps faster with minimum effort.

Easy to Create and Update

Business learning content needs to be kept up to date as businesses continue to change. The content must reflect this change and be held at par. With microlearning modules lasting only a few minutes, it is easy to update content on-demand.

Budget-Friendly

Organizations are increasingly investing in more effective and fruitful learning methods. It becomes challenging to complete highly professional training for an upcoming project within weeks with a fixed budget.

Microlearning helps address this concern with online training that is significantly less expensive than in-classroom training.

Increased Employee Engagement

Microlearning helps demonstrate to employees that you care about their learning in a way that elevates engagement.

Software Advice has reported that 50% of employees are more engaged by taking microlearning courses than more extended and monotonous training that impacts their daily work. Employees tend to disengage when uninterested.

Here’s a depiction of how the audience engages with shorter video lessons versus longer conventional video lessons.

What is Microlearning? The Definitive Guide [2020]
Image Source: Valamis

Boosts Knowledge Retention

Based on research conducted by the Journal of Applied Psychology, “learning in bite-sized modules makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient.” With this newly absorbed material that bolsters retention, learning can quickly be applied to real-world problems.

Promotes a Learning Culture

The success of employee learning in an organization depends on how happy and informed the employees are. Microlearning is a continuous endeavor that replaces a one-time learning experience.

Microlearning allows employees to be informed of IT compliance or company policy changes even long after the onboarding process.

Benefits for Instructional Design and Technology

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By far, the benefits of Microlearning outweigh its limitations. However, it’s not a panacea, and there are applications for which microlearning is not suited.

Not Ideal for Complex Concepts and In-depth Training

Technical concepts are more complex, and learners need to align ideas with extensive and practical hands-on experience. Microlearning offers minimal scope for in-depth and hands-on training in less time.

It is better to deliver high-level ideas and cover more complex material; you will need to break it into modules covering specific topics.

Tips for Developing Microlearning

Check if Microlearning is the best approach for your Content

If your subject matter is complicated or requires an in-depth study, Microlearning may not be the correct approach. Complex concepts and learning based on ideation will need a more discussion-oriented learning approach.

Capture the Key Ideas

You cannot copy and paste a chunk of the entire Content and call that microlearning. It would be best to take out the content's main ideas that capture the essence of the core topic or skill-based training.

Add Diverse Media to your Content to keep Learners Engaged

Using just text can cause your learners to lose interest. By embedding videos, animations, infographics, and interactions into your content, participants align more with the relevant, interesting, and relatable content.

Using Micro-assessment to Check Progress

Instead of having a long comprehensive quiz at the end of the training, put in short knowledge checks at the end of your module to ensure learners are aligned to your training goals.

Employ Microlearning to supplement Formal Training 

Many employers make the mistake of completely doing away with formal training and implementing a microlearning-only approach. Using microlearning strategically is critical.

Consider adding microlearning between the formal training sessions as an augmentation to aid retention and enhance skill acquisition. And use it to support continued interaction with SMEs after the formal learning intervention has concluded to keep the flow of knowledge open and the forgetting curve to a minimum.

Radiant Digital has been successful in utilizing Microlearning effectively for the learning needs of our designers and customers. Call us to learn how you can too.


Flattening the Forgetting Curve for Learners and Reducing Information Load

Scientific study has proven that humans forget 50% of what they learn within one day of learning. After completing an online course, even the brightest minds cannot remember every piece of information presented.

We tend to forget information over time if we do not apply it to our daily activities. The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve commonly represents the effect.

Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

What is the Forgetting Curve (and How Do You Combat it)?
Image Source: Cursim.com 

In the 1880s, a German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus tested his memory over various periods. He gathered all the data from his studies and plotted it on a graph similar to the one above.

This work gave birth to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a mathematical formula that describes the rate at which memorized material is eventually forgotten. Ebbinghaus initially generated lists of random three-letter non-words (the fact that they were non-words was necessary; there was no pattern or hardcoding associated, which challenged the memory). Ebbinghaus then memorized these non-words until he could recall all of them correctly.

He then tested himself at intervals like half an hour or a day or a few days later to see how many of the non-words he remembered, which went as far as 31 days.

Ebbinghaus discovered that, over time, he would forget a significant number of these non-words. The rate and volume of forgetting over time were directly proportional to the passing time. So the forgetting process began as soon as he stopped referencing the list; it first progressed at a rapid pace, eventually tapping off over the week.

The forgetting curve is tricky to tackle, especially when remembering different formats of information shared in corporate training programs. Not all training information is engineered explicitly to battle this phenomenon. Thus, understanding the forgetting curve and its influences helps instructors create more effective training content while devising ways to aid in employee knowledge retention.

When we absorb content, we are actively making relational associations with other information that we already know. This knowledge or “cognitive economy” will come from our long-term memory rather than our short-term or working memory.

Implications of the Forgetting Curve

The general scientific consensus states that there are two primary types of memory.

  1. Working Memory – Helps remember simple information in the short-term. It is characterized by,
    • Limited Capacity – Learners can store only around 7 to 9 items at a time in their memory
    • Limited Duration – The information absorbed can be forgotten easily with time or due to distractions.
  2. Long-term Memory - Refers to information storage retrieved over an extended period. A repeated recall is vital to ensure that information retention persists through long-term memory because the information that is frequently accessed will become easier to recall over time. Any learning designer wants to ensure that their content resides in learners' long-term memory, which is an essential mechanism to flattening the Forgetting Curve.

Typically, the higher the instruction's cognitive load, the steeper the forgetting curve will be as learners struggle to build the schemas necessary for retention. Cognitive load is determined by the number of working memory resources a learner must use to ingest and retain information.

Reducing cognitive load is critical to designing effective instruction and can be accomplished in several ways. Chunking, retrieval practice, multiple delivery media, and spaced repetition are relatively straightforward methods that you can use to reduce cognitive load and flatten the forgetting curve for your learners. These techniques can be applied whether you're building synchronous or asynchronous instructions and with or without self-paced elements.

Chunking

Chunking refers to splitting or grouping complex, tangentially related information into cognitive chunks that form smaller, more cohesive groups. A three-day (21 seat-hour) instructor-led training course may comprise three basic groupings (one for each day) of loosely related information, but creating 10-12 chunks of highly associated information will help learner retention.

Another example of chunking is producing microlearning modules to reinforce the valuable information learned in training sessions. Each chunk of standalone learning content can last about 10 minutes, enabling learners to meet one learning objective at a time comprehensively.

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition reinforces learning at periodic intervals. Implementing spaced repetition must also include increasing the time between each repetition and increasing the complexity of the information presented. This way, the brain is trained for better recall. As time passes and the space between repetitions increases, the mind becomes better equipped to retain and recall concepts. Traditionally, using flashcards (there are myriad flashcard software packages), modern approaches also include using mixed-media and associated short quizzes pushed to the learner from a central learning function.

http://www.cursim.com/assets/2020/04/Graph-2-01-1024x679.png
Image Source: Cursim.com 

Retrieval Practice

Implementing a technique that elementary-school teachers have been using for centuries in retrieval practice instead of only a review of a chunk of information, learners test their knowledge recall in a ‘free’ environment. A low-pressure environment where making mistakes does not lead to consequences allows the learner to take chances. Immediate feedback, with an explanation of the correct answer, is essential for recall and understanding.

Unlike spaced repetition, it does not require increased intervals and complexity. You can effectively implement the Retrieval Practice Method within a given training session or provide it through intersession activities. By merely testing knowledge, you are helping the learner to retain it.

Blending it up

Creating blended learning is another way you can help retention. By providing different avenues for acquiring related chunks of information, you provide individual learners the ability to find their own ‘a-ha moments.’ You’ll be looking at disseminating chunks through various media videos, podcasts, infographics, and myriad other possibilities at the basic level. However, as you progress along the blended continuum, you can achieve more effective knowledge transfer. Structuring an exercise to accomplish a task as part of software training can certainly be useful. However, a blended approach could involve assigning learners a group project to analyze the software usability related to a given set of tasks and present potential improvements.

Wrapping up

By making it easier for your learners to absorb and retain the content, you will more readily achieve the ultimate goal of all training, behavioral change. At Radiant, assisting clients with workforce transformation is one of our core missions; let us help you achieve your next learning initiative's goals.


[Webinar] How Augmented Reality is Transforming Field Service Management

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI-WHn1YmZQ

Chart a path for your businesses to embrace an augmented future for field service management by exploring a few successful Augmented Reality examples! Join us for this free 30-minute webinar that could help you save productivity, efficiency, and, most importantly - money.