Tips to Stop Sucking at PowerPoint

The title is bold and direct, I know. I like it actually, because when a PowerPoint presentation sucks, it really, really sucks. So sometimes, we just have to call it what it is.

The bottom line is that we cannot escape PowerPoint in today’s business and/or academic world. And as Jessee Desjardins wrote, it’s really not a bad tool at all. In fact, I think it is a fabulous tool. One just needs to learn how to use it efficiently and effectively.

About 3 years ago, I read Edward Tufte’s The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, and though he did not convince me to abandon PowerPoint completely, I did take into account his main criticisms of the tool—such as it being a tool used to support the presenter on what s/he wants to lecture about rather than supplement with supporting visuals—and try to find ways of working around them.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today



Brushing Up On Your User Experience Design Skills? Take A Look At These Books

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of user experience design testing as part of the overall eLearning course testing process. Paul Seys compiled a fantastic list of books on user experience design (or UX). Borrowing mainly from Web and multimedia design best practices, much of this can inform the design of your online learning environments and resources.

The list comprises all sorts of books including those that focus on

  • user experience design
  • storytelling & conversations for user experience
  • information architecture
  • search analytics
  • grid systems for the Web

As well as two specialized books focusing on best practices and innovation in the field of user experience design.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Taking Into Account User Experience In Your E-learning Design

Two months ago, Tom Kuhlmann wrote a piece on the importance of thoroughly reviewing your e-learning courses before launching them. One of his key tips was to watch learners go through the course in order to understand how they experience it. Web and multimedia designers call this user experience design testing.

ZURB, a team of interaction designers and strategists, put together a guide to facilitating feedback on user design which can be implemented throughout the design process. These techniques are very useful for understanding the user experience while following an e-learning course.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

From the Innovative Mind of Janey Clarey: Instructional Design by Example Blog

Janet Clarey is one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of training and developement. It is no surprise that she has kicked off this absolutely fabulous idea of blogging about real life instructional design examples.

I wish her the best of luck possible and am thinking up an example to contribute in the very near future.

Corporate e-learning needs another blog. Oh yes. It does.

In this blog, you’ll find examples of e-learning courses and details about the instructional design process used in creating them. You’ll also find specifics about the logistics of the courses. Anyone is welcome to submit an example using the submission form. The site is maintained by Janet Clarey.

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Wireframing Tools for Mockups and Prototypes

Great list and commentary on desktop and online wireframing tools to create mockups and prototypes for when pen and paper just aren’t enough.

Like most things today, the world of interaction design moves quickly. Although a pen and notebook may suffice when it comes to simply jotting down ideas, planning a series of website screens can sometimes demand additional precision and cohesion.

This is where today’s wireframing tools come in. Engineered to make the design process as intuitive as possible, these tools allow you to construct a visual representation of your interface. Some even allow designers to construct interactive prototypes in order to receive user feedback before a single line of code is written. The following list comprises 15 of the most prominent wireframing applications available today.

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The Ethnography of Design

I’ve been looking at ethnographical studies to determine how researchers and experts collaborate. Of course, this proposes that ethnographic analysis can inform design. This leads me to reflect further on the impact of the research results on the way that online environements in which researchers and experts collaborate are designed.

Ethnography is a research method in which the researcher observes people in their natural environment so as to gain insight into the ways in which people inhabit their spaces, use their products and interact with the various physical, social, economical and ecological systems around them. It is a heavily qualitative research method, involving much participant-observation — observing and recording the actions and decision-making processes of individuals and groups in a given environment.

There are several different ways in which ethnographic methods can be used in the design world:

  • an ethnographer collects data and reports to a designer
  • an ethnographer and designer work together and study a certain population
  • an ethnographer, designer and end-user collaborate as a team

and so on…

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Blog Design Study

Smashing Magazine present their findings of their study of top blogs.

  • Part 1 discusses layout design and typographic settings.
  • Part 2 discusses navigation design, information architecture, advertisements and functionality (RSS-feeds, tag clouds, pagination, etc).

What Smashing Magazine has to say about their study:

We have identified 30 design problems and considered solutions for each of the problems separately. We have posed 30 questions which we would like to answer with our blog survey. Below we present findings of our survey of popular blog designs — the results of an analysis of 50 popular blogs according to Technorati’s Top 100.

Also from Smashing Magazine is their helpful post on 15 Desktop Blogging Tools Reviewed. I actually wrote this post using BlogDesk. Not too bad, just took some getting used to. I will try ScribeFire (a Firefox plugin) for my next post.

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