Not too long ago I hosted this Ask Me Anything (AMA) event, where I answered questions about my e-learning workflow. Here’s a recap of a few of my best tips and tricks!

Ashley Chiasson: How do you structure your week based on your workload?

Nicole Legault: I’m definitely a list person. Every day I make a “to do” list for that day, then I prioritize the items on my list and I start with most important items.

If I was working on a project with a client and I need to meet with SMEs or other stakeholders I want to plan my workload around the times they are available to meet with me.

Holly MacDonald: How do you deal with clients who are new to e-learning? I’m curious about what you share with them to help them understand the [your] process as well as how you help them envision the final.

Nicole Legault: I start by sharing my typical process for approaching an e-learning project and include some “whys” (why I do it a certain way, explaining the reasoning behind the process). I want to give a good sense of what’s involved at a high level, but also help them understand that this process can vary depending on the project’s needs, who’s involved, etc. At the end of the day, what’s critical is to have a clear process identified with my client and the specific expectations defined in writing. I think how much hand-holding, guidance, visuals, and explanations they need depends on the specific client.

When it comes to envisioning the final product, I think examples are the key, whether it’s from my own portfolio, from the community showcase, or from elsewhere on the internet. To manage the expectations, I want to share examples that are in-line with what the client expects me to develop, so I can give them a realistic sense of what final output can potentially look like.

Carolyn Dickerson: How do you get inspired when trying to design an interface and graphics that relate to the course subject matter? Usually my internal clients don’t have a logo, color scheme, or any type of standard graphics to work from. It’s like starting from scratch each time and this really slows us down.

Nicole Legault: It’s really awesome that you get such creative freedom, although I know what you mean about the time it takes to make these design decisions!

I often use Google Images as my source of inspiration. I’ll do searches of keywords on Google and just look at what images come up related to the subject matter. I look to see what colors and imagery appear a lot. Often this will inspire me and give me ideas to use as a starting point. I’ll also often look at “web designs” and “infographics” on Google Images to get inspired. For me, this is really one of my favorite parts of designing e-learning, coming up with the design, color schemes, fonts, etc.

You might also consider looking at my co-worker David Anderson’s design map tool. There are some great tips for choosing the right look and feel for your course.

Also, if possible, re-use past templates, assets, graphics, etc. It’s a great way to save time, and it also serves as an example you can use to show to your clients, if you wipe it clean of any proprietary info. If they like it: great! Saves you a lot of time.

Tracy Parish: How often have you come across a client that, against your better judgment and advice, just wants the READ, CLICK, READ, CLICK? Have you had to just throw your hands up and go with what the client wants regardless if your inner ID is screaming no?

Nicole Legault: I’ve had a lot of clients who preferred a click-and-read approach. I would try to explain the instructional value and show great examples of e-learning that goes beyond “click Next” to try to illustrate what’s really possible, but at the the end of the day, the customer is the one shelling out the dough so it’s their final decision.

Cheryl Theis: The challenge I have is working with SMEs whose goals and priorities do not include developing training. I am able to get the storyboard to 95%, but it sits for weeks waiting for the final details about a product and/or approval of the storyboard to move to programming. Any suggestions on how to encourage SMEs to complete projects?

Nicole Legault: There are definitely things you can do to help the situation. One suggestion is to get buy-in from the SMEs manager. If an SMEs manager thinks the project is important and a priority, the SME is also more likely to think so.

A second idea is to try to include specific consequences for what happens if you don’t receive SME feedback on the project plan. It might be that for each day the SME is late returning a review document, an extra day gets added on to the delivery date of the project.

And here’s a third idea, If you’re really close to being done and you just need that one final review and you can’t seem to get the SME to do it on their own time: why not just schedule a meeting with them and walk them through it? Sometimes it’s just necessary!

Want to see more from my AMA? Feel free to head on over to the discussion to have a look at all of the questions and answers that were posted!

If you have feedback or questions, we’d love to hear them in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest e-learning advice, tips, and tricks.

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