How to deal with constant UI changes for your eLearnings?

Hallo there!

I was just wondering if anyone had any tips in dealing with constant UI changes? 

Our eLearnings are quite screenshot heavy because our training material is mostly focused on how to use our product. So far, so good! But the UI changes incredibly regularly - from button colours to element positioning, which means all our screenshots, steps and simulations end up out of date within weeks of making them. 

Does anyone else here have experience with this? And if so (or even if not, and you just have an idea!) how do you streamline the process so you're not chopping and changing so often?

16 Replies
Holley Berley

Hi Holly!

Firstly, nice avatar!  Pikachu for the win :)  

I've dealt with having to update screenshots and the like a few times and it can be really time consuming!  A couple of things that have helped me would be:

1. Before you start swapping all the screenshots and such out, ask the people making these changes if there are any coming releases that will affect how your material will look.  If they have more changes coming up soon, maybe hold off until they have released them.

2. In line with the above - before swapping everything out, see if the new change really necessitates updating the content.  i.e. if a button changed color but it is in the same spot and has the same text on it, is it necessary to change all the screenshots containing that button (or rather, will the learner still fully understand everything even if you don't update that screenshot right now)?

If you can do important updates on the fly but leave small stuff for a monthly/quarterly update release, it might be time saving.  

Matthew Bibby

I've dealt with this before... and in some cases was creating training for software that didn't yet exist! 

At the start of the course, I'd have a note that explained the software was constantly improving and as a result, some screens may look different to what is shown in the training. This way users wouldn't be surprised when things looked a bit different. 

Then I had a schedule for when updates would occur. Usually, non-essentially updates would happen every 3 to 6 months. So I'd do these updates when the production schedule was quieter.

Most of the time, the UI was pretty self-explanatory and as it was based on well-established standards it was easy for people to understand. So this took the pressure off many non-essential updates.

Sometimes processes would change along with the UI, which would often require me to update sooner rather than later.

Another thing I learnt was to document the settings used to create videos or screenshots. For example, with some software, I might change the resolution on my monitor to make it fit better in a video or whatever. Write that detail down. You'll be glad you did.

You could also give learners a way to report something as out of date. They press a button, it opens an email prepopulated with some info (course name, slide number, date, the browser being used, operating system, IP address ... whatever) and they can then add detail about what's out of date and send that to you. 

It's all good fun.

Holly Fogarty

Really good ideas - I hadn't thought about adding a way for learners to report issues/out of date materials, and the disclaimer at the beginning would be a great "yes, we know, don't worry, we're working on it" nod to some of the more anxious learners who feel they can't follow along if the button looks different on their own screen. 

You raise a good point about documenting resolution - I absolutely see my downfall in that in updating screens now, where I can't for the life of me remember how I managed to get the resolution to the optimum size arrgh! Well, better late than never when it comes to streamlining processes!

Matthew Bibby

Here's some of my boilerplate code for course feedback:

var player = GetPlayer();
var email = 'your_email@address.com';
var browser = navigator.appVersion;
var path = window.location.pathname;
var subject = 'Course Feedback';
var emailBody = 'Enter your feedback here.' + '\n\n' + '--------------------Please do not change anything beneath this line.--------------------' + '\n\n' + 'Browser information: ' + browser + '\n\n' + 'Pathname: ' + path;
var mailto_link = 'mailto:' + email + '?subject=' + subject + '&body=' + encodeURIComponent(emailBody); win = window.open(mailto_link, 'emailWin');

When this code is executed, it'll open an email ready for the learner to enter their feedback. 

It'll also include info about the browser, which will look something like this:

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_14_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/77.0.3865.75 Safari/537.36

Which tells us that Chrome version 77.0.3865.75 was used to view the training. If you are curious what the other information means or come across some browser info that doesn't make sense, then head over to useragentstring.com

And the pathname information is useful if you are still publishing to Flash as well as HTML5 as it'll show something like story_html5.html or  story_flash.html. And if you include version information in your file name or folder structure, then you'll also know which version of the course they are viewing. For example:

Pathname: /courseTitle_v3/story_html5.html 

Maybe this is helpful.

Getting a consistent resolution for updates is an art!

I tend to drop my monitor resolution right down (to match the video res), then open the app full screen or in a way that I can easily replicate in the future. I use apps like Moom (which is a Mac app, but you get the idea) to position apps in a consistent way. 

Nancy Woinoski

One more thing to consider when doing updates. If you are using Storyline 360 - get in the habit of using the media library to make your screen updates. You can edit images in the library and any change you make will apply to all slides using the image. If you need to swap out an image and do it via the library, Storyline will update all slides using the image.

This can be a major time saver.

Holley Berley

I just watched a TechSmith video called This is How to Make Content that Matters that posed some interesting thoughts about using simplified graphics in learning content.  One of the benefits is that these graphics help future-proof your content.  That made me think of this discussion, so I thought I'd share.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

 

Ulises Musseb

This may not be a popular opinion, but if the updates are so constant that people cannot even get trained on them, maybe eLearning might not be the appropriate medium for training. Are those changes enhancements to the UI? If they are, maybe the software isn't robust enough yet to start training people on it.

eLearning is not the answer to everything, or it's not the answer at this moment.

Holly Fogarty

eLearning certainly isn't the answer to everything, I agree, but in our case it isn't just restricted to eLearning. We have an extensive knowledge base to help people navigate our product which also needs constant updating because of UI changes/enhancements (ie: new steps, new screenshots, etc...). We can't get rid of the knowledge base because users will want (and do want!) answers to quick troubleshooting issues on the fly. This is also in conjunction with live training and  customer support, so we're not just relying on one method or the other, because I'd agree then that wouldn't be ideal if eLearning was all we had to help educate customers and employees!

We can't wait around for the software to be "finished" because it's ever changing and evolving, which is great that we're always expanding, it's just not great for future proofing training materials!