Designing for the Future of Work

“Great design is a multi-layered relationship between human life and its environment”

Naoto Fukasawa 

In a time where most of our learning occurs digitally, human-centred design is more important than ever. Brightwave’s Head of Visual Design, Lara Gobbi shares some tips about keeping content engaging as learning extends its life beyond the LMS.

Those already accustomed to digital learning will be doing more of it, while those who are new to it are discovering new ways of learning. We must cater for both groups of people and more.

We need to keep the content visually engaging, interactive and compatible with platforms that are not necessarily learning management platforms. We need to make learning effective for people moving from on-the-job training to digital training who are adjusting to new ways of learning.

Five design insights when designing for the future of work

1. Prototyping

For some time, there has been a move away from waterfall towards agile ways of working, in digital learning. The increase of true prototyping tools in design – including Adobe XD, Invision and Marvel – or actually designing and building in authoring tools directly has changed our way of working from flat image storyboarding to fully interactive prototypes, ready for user testing.

Prototyping designs to share with clients using our in-house authoring framework, Waveform, has proved so beneficial that we offer true prototypes within other authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline, Articulate Rise and Evolve.

According to Tony Kim, CEO and co-founder of the ProtoPie prototyping platform, ‘More multi-device and contextual/real-world prototypes will take ideation beyond a single screen experience’. This is very much needed at a time that our way of working is becoming more agile with prototyping at its core.

2. Video

Video is not a new trend as such, but one that will skyrocket as we transition from on-the-job to digital learning. There will be occasions where immersive technologies will be the most viable solutions, but there will also be cost- and time-saving alternatives that use video.

In addition, there will be times when communication channels can be optimised to work as temporary learning platforms. In these cases, content created in a video format works especially well since it doesn’t need to be hosted on an LMS.

According to Dana Kachan, writing for Creative Bloq in 2019, “The use of video on social media perfectly exemplifies how animated visuals can replace written content. Short and precise videos can retain people’s attention more easily than traditional written content, while still offering plenty of information”.

While The State of Video Marketing in 2019 report states that “68% of people say they’d most prefer to learn about a new product or service by watching a short video”.

3. GIFs and meaningful animations

Of course, there isn’t always the budget, time or bandwidth for content to all be video. Hence the beauty of GIFs and animations to bring content to life.

Short animations can deliver complex ideas rapidly. In web design trends, the use of animation has been shown to interest the user to the point of persuading them to spend more time on a website. Another key benefit is that, unlike video, GIFs are truly platform agnostic; they work with any browser and smartphone, making them accessible to all.

We use GIFs in our own authoring framework, but we also use them in heavily templated authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline. They help us to break away from a block-like look and feel. In our example, we’ve used the GIF as an animated component divider.

4. Micro-interactions

Micro-interactions exist in most apps and websites and are fundamental in helping the user navigate through both. Often, we’re not even aware of their existence because they are so well integrated into user interfaces that we don’t notice them. However, if we removed them, we’d notice very quickly that the user experience is negatively affected.

In traditional e-learning, the use of prompts makes screens busy and overwhelming at times. At Brightwave, we always try to leave space for the content, minimising the use of prompts and, where possible, using micro-interactions and gestures learners recognise to guide them through the learning.

As we engage with more people who are unfamiliar with e-learning, we can help by mimicking the scrolling and micro-interactions found in web browsing.

Included here is an example of micro-interactions used to bring the attention to a clickable element on the screen.

5. Branding

The final trend is one that can encompass all of the above: internal branding.

As with a marketing campaign, we find that learners are more engaged and ready to learn when they are targeted at various touch points, such as with intranet banners, emails, posters, podcasts and much more. The best way to consolidate this messaging under one ‘umbrella’ is to create a brand to hold it together. It helps it stand out from other learning and cuts through the noise of busy communication channels.

We created an internal brand for one of our consulting clients. The majority of their colleagues didn’t open the communication that was sent to them via email. So, we helped them build a brand that respected their parent brand, while still distinguishing itself from it. One that allowed them to stand out.

We find that internal branding goes beyond communication. It engages with employee behaviour and company culture. By involving employees and getting their buy-in, we can create excitement around a central theme that informs, engages and persuades others. It cements employee commitment to the company and ensures alignment with its values, which in turn helps with recruitment and retention moving forward.

We will continue to develop digital learning using these five design insights in the months and years to come, so it can cater for many more groups of people than before – and so that it stands out from other digital communication channels.

Brightwave are working to support clients with these challenges today and would love the opportunity to share our experience with you.


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