Is there any way to make this formatting look better?

Hello,

I'm wondering if anyone can help me with an issue I'm trying to figure out. I have created an exercise that has the user answer "Yes", "Somewhat", or "No" for a series of 11 questions about whether or not their organization is currently doing certain things. Based on those answers, it then shows them a "report card" with a letter grade and any suggestions for improvement. The "suggestions" are basically any questions that the user answered "No" to, presented to them again as a list of things they should be doing. In order to accomplish this, I created variables for each question ("Question1", "Question2", etc.) and they are all listed in a text box on the "Suggestions" slide but this is not ideal. Currently, if the user clicks "Yes" as their answer to any question, it changes the variable's value to blank (as it would not be necessary to suggest it for improvement if the company is already doing it), meaning that it leaves a blank spot for that variable in the list of suggestions. Although this successfully shows the correct content, it means that the formatting looks terrible. What I would like to be able to do is have the questions that the user answered "No" to be listed first (and formatted nicely), then have the things the user answered "Somewhat" to listed afterwards as a secondary list (currently, I have differentiated between the two by having two asterixes [**] start a "No" statement and a dash [-] start a "Somewhat" statement but this looks messy and confusing.) If having two lists is too challenging, I am fine with only showing the "No" list, but I still need to find a way to fix the formatting issue. (FYI, the variables in black on the "Report Cards" slide are only a test to ensure that the counters are working and is not part of the design - it is counting 2 points for each "Yes" answer, 1 point for each "Somewhat", and "No" answers do not contribute to the points count but it tracks the total number of "No" answers as they can determine between an 'A' or a 'B' grade.)

My original thought was to use an "if/then"-type statement to tell the "Suggestions" slide to add any questions to the list that the user answered "No" to. Unfortunately, I can't see any way of doing this within the Triggers and, when I submitted this question to Articulate's Support team, I was told that it is not possible within Storyline's current functionality. An example of what I'd like it to do is:

If "Question1" is not equal to "blank" then add "%Question1%" to list/text box

...or something of the like. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could accomplish this? I had considered putting each statement on a new layer and using triggers to show or not show each layer but that would, essentially, create the same result as I am already getting with listing the variables in a text box as you can't dynamically change the position of text boxes on the layers, so it would still be a matter of certain layers being turned off, leaving gaps in the list. Because there are 11 questions that the user could possibly answer "No" to, there are far too many combinations for me to put every possible combination of suggestions on a new layer, so I'm not sure how to handle this.

Does anyone have any brilliant ideas?

Thanks,

Mel

30 Replies
Mike Enders

Mel,

The support team is correct in that there isn't a baked-in functional way to handle this.  With that said, I'm working on an idea where you'd pass text variable values to a set of empty text variable references on the next slide.   Now I need to work on the logic for determining which values each displays.  I have a feeling that this is going to get crazy in terms of the number of triggers that will be needed to make this work, but in theory....

Mike

Mel Ruth

Hi Mike,

I have only been using Storyline for a few months but I have been building some pretty complex things and every interaction that I build now is totally from scratch, so there have been times that I have ended up with 40 or more triggers and a multitude of layers and variables, too, so I welcome any crazy ideas that you have!

The only thing is, I am on a pretty tight timeline to get that project finished - do you know when you might be able to show me your idea?  I really appreciate your energy put into this!

Thanks!

Mel

David Anderson

Hi Mel,

I think I follow what you're trying to do and have a couple examples that might help.

This source file and Screenr show how to use variables to display the correct state for each answered choice.

The idea is that you'd create a text object with custom states for each question's  feedback. Then use variables to evaluate which choice was answered for each question and then change the state of each object to the appropriate custom state.

David Anderson

Mel - I meant to include this screenshot of the feedback screen.

The jumbled looking text is all three feedback options for the question. Their initial state is set to Hidden and based on the learner's choice, one of the options will be set to normal.

In theory, this is what you would do for all 11 of your choices. This would enable you to better format the text options and customize the suggestions feedback.

Mel Ruth

HI David,

Thank you very much for your suggestion - I am going to try that and see if I can make it work.  I will have to add something into the triggers and variables so that it will know if the previous text box in the list is "full" or not (so that it knows to keep moving up the list until it finds a blank spot but not overwrite any other spots already set to show.)  I think this could work, though!

I'll let you know how it goes or if I run into more issues with it!

Thanks,
Mel 

Mike Enders

Mel,

Okay, here's a way to make it work.  This is focused solely upon getting a list to populate from top to bottom based upon the learner's "yes" responses.  I'm only using 4 questions at this point.  Please note that should you approach this with11 questions, the triggers will multiply in number.  Especially for the middle slots where you have so many potential combinations to evaluate.  For example, on a 10 question project, slot 4 would have something like 84 triggers alone.  With that said, it does work...and it's kinda cool!

Sample file is attached to this post.

Good Luck!

Mike

Mel Ruth

My sister is a math teacher and I thought about asking her how many possible combinations I'd be looking at for some of the trigger/variable ideas that I had previously considered, as I knew it would be A LOT!  I think that this will work, though, which is awesome. Hopefully there isn't a limit on how many triggers you can have on one slide!

Thank you very much for the suggestions and examples - I'll let you know how it goes!

Mel Ruth

Mike and David, your suggestions work great for the functionality but, unfortunately, the formatting is still an issue since the text I need to put in the various state changes varies widely in length so I can't make the text or the boxes a standard size.  If I knew how many items were going to be on the screen, it would be a lot easier to format this but, since there could be anywhere from 1 to 11 items appearing on the list, I would pretty much have to set all of the text to a standard size (which would make it really small and it would look odd if there only ends up being two or three suggestions in the list with the rest of the slide inexplicably blank).  Also, because some of the text is only 1 line long and other blurbs are up to 3 or 4 lines, it is still going to be really challenging to end up with the items being evenly spaced on the list.

This seemed so doable when I was planning this exercise as I was thinking of it in terms of that if/then statement with a simple variable that could be referenced to see if the item should be added to the list.  I have a very limited programming background but from my high school QBasic days, it seemed to me that it should work.  I wish there was some way of dynamically adding items to a single text box - maybe that could be a future feature for Storyline - do you think that is something that other people would use?

I wonder if I could improve the formatting part if I did know how many items were going to be on the list?  I am already tracking the number of "No" clicks for the "Report Card", so what if I used that along with layers that are pre-formatted for a specific number of text items?  It won't help me for spacing because of the differences in blurb length but it would at least allow me to change the font size to be more appropriate for the number of items appearing on the list.  Hmmm...

Sorry for doing my thinking on the forum rather than figuring it out and then just sharing afterwards but I'm thinking that someone may see where my thought process is going and it could trigger another thought that might help all of us!  

Kai ...

David Anderson said:

Hi Mel,

Whenever I have specific requirements for formatting, I go with bitmap images. I just find it easier to manage pixels when a high-level of detail is required.

Check out the following Screenr on a project I'm working on for LINGOS. The self-assessment survey is a lot like what you're doing. The biggest difference is around how the feedback is displayed.


Great concept Dave! I always ask folks this and I think I even asked you a while back; how do you come up with the design concepts. I like the grudge backgrd and scrolling pane. 

David Anderson

@Karen - 

The design concepts always come from the content. This project's based on response scenarios for abducted NGO workers. Using the design mapping process, we went through and identified the types of elements, fonts, people, colors and textures that are often associated with this topic. 

The course is still in development but we have most of the visual elements defined. Here's a very quick overview of how those elements came together:

Mike Enders

Karen,

David's process is much more scientific than mine (I start with crayons and butcher block paper).  If you watch David's video in his previous post, you'll see him go through the design mapping process.  Here's another video on design mapping.  It's a great way to get your creative juices flowing and applying them to your course.

Along with that, one of the best ways to come up with design ideas is to look at already created templates.  This tends to be my process for finding inspiration.  For example, Template Monster and Elegant Themes have some great sites to use as inspiration. The cool thing is that they're created by awesome graphics designers who know how to build great looking projects.  Tom has a couple of great blog posts about finding inspiration in templates.   Post 1  Post 2

I hope this helps!

If not, there's always my box of 8 chunky crayolas!

Kai ...

Mike Enders said:

Karen,

David's process is much more scientific than mine (I start with crayons and butcher block paper).  If you watch David's video in his previous post, you'll see him go through the design mapping process.  Here's another video on design mapping.  It's a great way to get your creative juices flowing and applying them to your course.

Along with that, one of the best ways to come up with design ideas is to look at already created templates.  This tends to be my process for finding inspiration.  For example, Template Monster and Elegant Themes have some great sites to use as inspiration. The cool thing is that they're created by awesome graphics designers who know how to build great looking projects.  Tom has a couple of great blog posts about finding inspiration in templates.   Post 1  Post 2

I hope this helps!

If not, there's always my box of 8 chunky crayolas!


Eureka!!! Now it makes sense. I am designer/developer  who work with a lot of gimmicksi.e. incoroprating game scenarios, themes like jeopardy, etc.

Not saying that you guys couldn't come up with it on your own at all, just curious as to how the creative spirits keep on going since mine evaporates after a while and require some muses (how you are to Anderson and v/v)    Those are really helpful to know because of redundancy of concepts on my end. I have always had discussions with my VP (finance) between the conformity and consistency. Somehow it eluded his very linear brain. I like that we are a community of sharing and building relationships. Thanks guys for your help. I am glad I asked the question again...phewww!!!!

David Anderson

Okay, so I'm beginning to follow you better now.

Most courses are either a 4x3 aspect ratio with some wider screen examples. But overall the stage size is consistent. That's a constraint that's present in every project which means it's also a decision that's already made for you.  That's one less thing to think about

But you are right that we pull from sources. I've spent years collecting examples. Things like layouts, text usage, interactivity and content presentation models are all things we can learn to use better in our own projects. 

For example, the Readiness Plan used in the LINGOS example above came directly from a Thanksgiving readiness survey. Yup. Here's they are:

David Anderson

The Thanksgiving survey not only asked the user to self-evaluate their readiness, but provided action plans based on their answers. We used that technique in our project to link out to job aids and resources based on the learner's choices.

So we leveraged more of the interaction design than the visual design in this case. 

Storyline's scroll panel was helpful because we didn't have a portrait-sized layout to accommodate all the question like the Thanksgiving survey. So those types of choices are a result of knowing the tools AND hanging out in super cool communities where users share their work and examples. Honestly, it's that type of collective sharing that helps all of us do more today than we could yesterday.

Kai ...

OMW! I do the same thing when I watch commercials online. I take screenshots to have see how I can improve the design and use the concept. From an ISD stand point; I like the instructional approach of your design and how it targets the objective(s) through summative evaluation. good job!

I find watching hulu helpful at times too (see attached). this 

David Anderson

LOL that's awesome and one more reason to keep my Hulu subscription live

Thanks on the feedback. As soon as I found that Thanksgiving survey, I thought it had so much of what we want to do in elearning. Storyline makes all that technically possible for non-devs like me.

I find the interaction design to be a lot more fun now that I have Storyline. I can test quickly ideas I come up with or sites like your Hulu example to see how they could work. It's quite empowering when you already have the design or ID parts down.