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Designed for Desktops, Delivered on Smartphones – 4 key pitfalls

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docebo_20140821I am indebted to Dario De Angelis of Docebo whose article yesterday took me back to my very early days of courseware design.

My first online design project involved delivery using text and the crudest of graphics on a matrix of 24 rows each having 40 characters, oh and some primary colours! This was the Prestel Teletext system of the late 70s.

Joy of joy, I then moved to the unbelievable luxury of a 512 x 512 screen albeit in monochrome – the Control Data PLATO system.

All before the birth of the PC.

As an instructional designer, my early experiences taught me a lot about working with new limitations – moving from OHP viewfoils to 40 x 24 characters for online TV delivery was a challenge – as was losing colour.

We face much the same challenges now with the arrival of tablets and smartphones as delivery mechanisms.

Forget the instructional designer for a moment. It seems there are two ways that system suppliers are tackling the issue. On the one hand there are those who have moved to a responsive display where what you see automatically changes layout and resolution to suit different devices. Others seem to produce two completely different versions so that learners can utilise the full scope of the features on each particular device. No doubt, there are hybrids of these as well.

I have to admit to being a relative novice in producing courses for today’s smartphones, still spending a lot of my time with large companies using operating systems and browsers that are on the borders of becoming obsolete. However, in moving ourselves forward, I have to say that I favour the responsive systems that mean, as long as we consider the physical attributes of all the delivery devices up front, there is only one course to design and develop – not different ones for different devices.

So, coming back to Darlo’s article. He provides good advice on the four key aspects of mobile devices which it is vital to consider in courseware design:

  • Screen Resolution
  • Interactions
  • Connectivity
  • Environment

Click here to go to Darlo’s article on

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