Usability in LMS Pages

Inspired by this post from the UT Web Developers outlining a usability checklist developed by Abhilash Thekkel, I thought that there should be a similar thing for LMS pages as well. Of course, some of the usability issues you need to do for a webpage aren’t necessary for a page managed in an LMS.  For instance, #28 Did you include a link to all your main pages on your homepage? doesn’t require any checking because navigation in the LMS is limited and usually controlled by the system and a link to the course home page is usually included. So here’s a list of items to look for when developing a usable course in an LMS.

Technical:

  1. Did you validate your (X)HTML using W3C Markup Validation Service?
  2. Did you validate your CSS using W3C CSS Validation Service?
  3. Did you check your website in at least IE, FF, Opera and Safari?

Images:

  1. Did you add the ALT attributes to all your images that are non-decorative?
  2. Did you make the size of your pages less then 50KB?
  3. Did you choose the appropriate filetype for your images?
  4. Did you add a description to images that support your content?
  5. Did you use plain text instead of images for important content?

Content:

  1. Did you use a sans-serif typeface with at least a 10 point font size for your body text?
  2. Did you adjusted the leading and tracking, if necessary, to increase readability?
  3. Did you align your body text to the left? (depends on language)
  4. Did you make sure that whole sentences  are not entirely in uppercase?
  5. Did you use less then 78 characters, including spaces, per line?
  6. Did you make brief and precise paragraphs with explanatory titles?
  7. Did you use lists to sum things up?
  8. Did you create enough contrast between the text and the background?
  9. Did you make your website also accessible for text-only browsers?
  10. Did you make sure that there are no ‘under construction’ pages, or links to content that do not work?
  11. Did you replace all special characters with the ISO Latin-1 codes?
  12. Did you spell check your content and did you proofread for grammar errors?
  13. Did you make a high contrast version of crucial information?

Navigation:

  1. Did you use no more then 8 items in your main navigation?
  2. Did you use describe the  link text instead of ‘click here’?
  3. Did you use self explanatory link text instead of business or jargon terms?
  4. Did you make a distinction between links and plain text?
  5. Did you make it possible to browse your website using SHIFT-TAB and RETURN?
  6. Did you make sure you didn’t use any javascript links?

Structure:

  1. Did you make a consistent page structure from page to page and tool to tool?
  2. Did you place important content above the fold/scroll?
  3. Did you make your page design on a grid system?
  4. Did you make your website also viewable on low resolutions?

Multimedia:

  1. Did you make sure that music and videoclips don’t start playing automatically?
  2. Did you make sure that music and videoclips can be turned off at any time?
  3. Did you inform the user about the size and length of your music and videoclips?
  4. Did you select or use  music and videoclips with subtitles or descriptions?

Many of the items in the original article are still useful, but they are at the whim of the administrators of the LMS or the LMS vendor itself. If your LMS is not respecting usability guidelines, maybe you shouldn’t be using it. If you are stuck using it, maybe you should advocate through whatever channels you think appropriate, that they adapt to allow learning for everyone.

6 thoughts on “Usability in LMS Pages

  1. Pingback: Usability in LMS Pages « All The Young (edu)Punks | usability

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  3. Hi Ross:

    Can you embed those same videos elsewhere (ie. in a webpage, or a comment)? The news widget isn’t the best location for a video – only because you can’t access the HTML editor. To add the video you’d have to download it from Teacher Tube as a SWF and import it using the object function of the HTML editor as a Flash Animation. Clint LaLonde might have a workaround posted: http://clintlalonde.net/2008/11/17/embed-a-youtube-video-in-desire2learn/, although it depends on your settings – we don’t allow users to turn off the HTML editor – if you don’t see the possibility ask your admins to consider changing that option.

  4. I can embed the video at my blog. In D2L, I can embed it in a page of content. It even previews properly before saving the news item. I tried using different browsers, but it doesn’t seem to affect the situation. I do get an HTML editor for news items, but it does seem to strip out some of the tags that are used on the content page:

    Untitled document

  5. Hmmm, are you using Internet Explorer? IE does weird things with the attributes of HTML, stripping them out. I haven’t had the issue because I use Firefox or Chrome usually, but I have seen the behaviour pasting embed codes with IE.

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