Choosing the right course creation app is a key factor for e-learning success. But with so many options available it’s not always easy to know which one is the best match for your needs. And you’ll likely have different priorities for different projects—like creating rich interactivity or publishing content as quickly as possible—so you’ll need an app that’s as versatile as the courses you create.
So how do you fully evaluate your options to make sure the app you choose meets the needs of the courses you’re creating today as well as the ones you’ll need to develop in the future? Answering the questions below will help streamline your decision-making to determine a clear winner.
1. What’s your budget?
Cost is a smart way to narrow your options. But don’t forget—the base price alone doesn’t tell the full story—not all apps come with everything you need. When comparing your options, do a deep dive into everything each authoring app offers you.
- Does it include free assets—such as templates, photos, illustrations, or characters—that can save you money?
- Are there built-in audio and video recording features or will you need to purchase separate software?
- Does it offer collaboration features or tools that allow you to collect feedback from stakeholders?
- What level of technical support is included?
By weighing what is and isn’t included, you can see which option gives you the best overall value.
2. How easy is it to use the app?
Think about your course creators. Are they quick to learn new apps or less comfortable with new technology? Are they experienced developers or subject matter experts (SMEs) building e-learning for the first time? Do they have time to ramp up or do they need to start creating content immediately? Be realistic about what you and your team can handle and take into account any upcoming deadlines.
3. Is there a free trial?
Getting your hands on the apps you’re considering can answer a lot of questions. That’s why free trials are so helpful! They let you get a feel for how different apps work before you commit to buying.
A useful way to decide between apps is to create the same short course in each one. This makes it easy to compare the development process as well as the final look and feel of each course. If a process takes three clicks in one app and ten in another, you might decide you want the faster option. You might also discover along the way that one app gives you more flexibility or features than the others.
4. What level of customization do you need?
Thinking carefully about the level of customization you need can also narrow down which apps will work best for your situation.
Are you hoping to quickly develop e-learning courses that look beautiful out of the box? Or do you need to have complete control over the look and feel of your courses—down to the last pixel?
Could you meet your training goals with a library of modular learning blocks? Or do you need to create fully custom interactions or immersive scenarios?
Make sure the app you choose supports the level of customization you need.
5. Do you need to create software training?
If you’re designing software training, you likely want an app that supports screen recording and software simulations.
But don’t stop there—look into what features it has to save you time on recording and editing. If you make a mistake, do you have to start over or can you edit individual frames in your recording? Can you automatically add annotations to your video during the recording process? Are there options to adjust the volume or video brightness? Can you decide on the format (screencast or software simulation) after recording or do you have to decide up front?
The right features can make a noticeable difference in how fast you can create software training and revise it later if something changes.
6. Does it create mobile-friendly content?
Having your e-learning courses work on mobile devices isn’t optional anymore—it’s essential! Even if your learners aren’t accessing courses on mobile just yet, it’s still good to plan for a future where they are.
But not all apps make building mobile courses easy. As you explore your options, see if you can create inherently responsive courses or if you have to manually tweak your content to make sure it displays correctly on all devices. And when creating your sample courses, test them on mobile devices to make sure they look and work as expected.
7. How do you want to share your courses with learners?
Once you’ve created your courses, you need to decide how to share them with your learners. For example, do you just need to give your learners access to the content? Or do you also need to track learner data (like scores, completions, and more) for compliance reasons?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide the kind of hosting platform to use. And because different platforms require different file formats, it’s important to have this information before you choose an app so you can make sure it’s compatible.
Learn more about the different options in this article: How to Share E-Learning Courses with Learners.
8. Will it cover your future needs?
Course creation apps are a long-term investment, so do “Future You” a favor: think about what kind of e-learning you’ll need to create in the upcoming months and years. Are there topics or audiences you’re not creating content for now but likely will in the future? Will your organization’s needs shift as it better understands everything e-learning can offer? Will upcoming challenges mean you’ll need to scale up how fast you’re creating courses or who’s making them? You’ll be happier with your app choice in the long run if it can also cover these future needs.
9. What support is available?
Research the level of support available to customers. Are tutorials and resources easy to find and learn from? If you run into an issue you can’t solve, can you contact a support team for help or do you have to pay extra for that service?
And while it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when choosing new tech, remember that connecting with other users is priceless. They can quickly troubleshoot issues, give you tips for getting up to speed on the app, and help you see what you can create with it in new ways. An active user community can help you find these people quickly. And the connections you’ll foster in those communities will make your work easier and support you along the way.
10. What accessibility features are included?
Consider how easy the app makes it to create accessible e-learning courses that all learners can take advantage of. While there are many steps you can take as a course creator to make your courses accessible—such as selecting colors with proper contrast and picking fonts that are easy to read—there are some things you’ll need to rely on an app for. Does the app offer built-in screen reader support? What about keyboard navigation? Can you add alt text to images and closed captions to videos?
Keep these things in mind as you research apps, and make sure whichever one you choose will allow you to design projects that remove learning barriers.
There’s no one-size-fits-all course creation app that works for everyone and every project. However, some companies offer complete e-learning solutions that allow you to pick and choose different apps for different projects. For example, Articulate 360 includes multiple authoring tools—including Storyline 360 and Rise 360—so you always have the one you need, no matter what the project. It also includes tons of course assets—such as templates, characters, and images—a review app, and even free online training. Want to learn more? Check out this article: Why You Need the Apps in Articulate 360 and When to Use Them. And if you’d like to take Articulate 360 for a spin, start a free 30-day trial.
No matter what apps you’re considering, it’s up to you to vet them to make sure you end up with one that fits your unique needs. Hopefully, these questions will help you more easily pick the right authoring software for you.
For more tips and topics related to course creation apps, have a peek at the following articles:
- The Basics of E-Learning Course Creation Apps
- 3 Types of E-Learning Course Creation Apps
- How to Share E-Learning Courses with Learners
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