The Learning Hook’s Door: eLearning Gold or UX insight?

eLearning and other Eclectic Passions
June 19, 2013
How to choose the right eLearning vendor: Another excellent building analogy
August 30, 2013

Very embarrassing to admit, but on a ridiculously regular basis I open the front door of our office incorrectly (I pull it instead of pushing – it opens inwardly). And now on every occasion I do it, and after the embarrassment subsides, it reminds me of what good design is all about. It makes me think that user experience doesn’t seem bad until it gets better.

The Learning Hook moved offices about eight months ago now. So why is it that I still open the front door incorrectly?

Question: Maybe I don’t come in to the office enough?
Answer: Nope. I work far too much and still make the mistake frequently.

Question: Is it because I have an ingrained physical memory of opening a similar door by pulling?
Answer: It ‘could be’. Our last office had a handle and also opened inwardly. However, an office I worked in a few years ago and which was also a corner office of a city building in funnily enough the same corner (North-West) had a door you pulled. So this is a possibility.

Question: Is it because I’m a slow learner with this sort of thing?
Answer: Others could make comment here of course (be kind) … but from my perspective, no.

Question: Can I hurry this blog up?
Answer: OK.

The thought that ‘user experience doesn’t seem bad until it gets better’ jumps out on just about most mornings when I open the office door (I’m hoping blogging improves my habits by the way!), is because a very intelligent friend of mine mentioned a while back it was probably because of the handle. It was long and strong and designed to make me ‘feel’ like pulling it (thanks Trin!).

If the long handle was removed and there was just a stainless steel square plate midway up the door, I would always push it open inwardly, as it’s obvious how it works. User experience doesn’t seem bad until it gets better. My user experience of the door has me doing something my body tells me the door is designed to do – a big long handle like that is designed for me to lean back and pull the door open… wrong!

As instructional designers, solutioneers, vendors and buyers of learning/training, we can take a lot from our daily design observations to our work within eLearning. Look at colour coding lines in hospitals, the universal symbols in lifts: It’s the simple design cues that inform quality work.

While I’m sharing embarrassing stories – here’s a very quick one that makes me laugh on occasion and I also think insightful in how we design things.

Working at a different company a few years ago, I took a call from a client who needed some simple text edits made to their content in an eLearning SCORM package they’d had running for a year or so. I organised for the development team to take a look. When I got it back, our lead developer walked over and mentioned that the Help screen was also broken – in fact, it had never been built! When the button was clicked to launch Help, it just launched a white space pop-up. He said he’d added some standard Help text now to suit the course.

We both were shocked of course – that firstly this had gone out, and more so, that no one had come back to complain – in over a year of it being live. Two points really:

  1. Help pages are a little redundant if the design is good – we design so you don’t need help – or perhaps it’s better to say, we design so you don’t need to seek help. Like good gaming design, Help should be context sensitive, pops up when you need it and builds as the complexity does – Just in time, Just enough, and Just for me. (This is an anthem at The Learning Hook; the fundamentals of Just in time, Just enough and Just for me permeate all good design and business in general.)
  2. Make sure as a vendor or client you test every button in a course – particularly those peripheral ones like Help and Resources!


A final note

More traditional Help pages on eLearning courses really are redundant for a number of reasons and like the door, if designed in the right way, everything is so obvious no one has to struggle in how to access the learning because the door opens with ease.

For more eLearning, visit


  1. The Geeks says:

    hi..Im college student, thanks for sharing 🙂

Leave a Reply