Best practices of an educational website and app design
The e-learning market is growing rapidly. The global market size is expected to grow by $370bln by 2026. More and more businesses are entering the market and it is becoming increasingly competitive. Therefore, the new players have to pay attention to every detail to stand out and succeed. Making the experience both informative and engaging may be crucial for success.
In this article, we will give some advice on how to achieve that. Read on to find out more about educational website design and app design best practices, common mistakes, and future trends!
Types of Educational Platforms
E-learning solutions come in many formats and styles. They share many common elements however, there are different nuances in their architecture and educational website design. Here are the main type of such platforms:
Learning Destination Sites — shared websites serving as marketplaces for different providers. Usually, they have some built-in tools or learning management systems for course creation. The educators can either upload or link the courses to the site. Typically those sites have eCommerce and learner registration covered. Examples include such online-learning stars as Coursera, edX, and Udemy.
Traditional Learning Management Systems — the platforms, which provide the basic functionality for creating and hosting a course. With their help, the educators can author and store courses, manage learning profiles, log grades, and learning progress, etc. The total number of LMS vendors is estimated at around 1000+. Most of them are designed for corporate Learning & Development.
Open Source LMSs serve the same purpose as commercial LMS solutions. However, they are free and customizable. Each platform tends to have communities of vendors who can configure and host open-source LMSs for a fee. Open edX and Moodle are among the examples.
Alternative Learning Management Solutions emerged on the market to fill in the gaps the traditional LMSs leave. They have a focus on learners’ experience and implementing custom pedagogies. The list of vendors providing such solutions includes Motivis, Totara, and NovoEd.
Learning Management Ecosystems are custom agglomerations of “point” solutions. Different LMSs, course authoring tools, adaptive learning engines, assessment tools, and eCommerce solutions are integrated into a single system. The latter often features a custom UI. The University of Notre Dame’s NeXus platform with Open edX at its basis may serve as a vivid example.
Custom Learning Platforms are fully tuned to the needs of specific educational businesses or organizations. They are built from scratch to fit all processes perfectly. For example, HBX, a platform featuring business certificate courses, was designed for Harvard Business School.
Educational website and app design best practices
Effective educational website design requires some skills and experience. A team of professional designers will know what to do. However, to get a general direction of how your website should look like, you can analyze other successful solutions. We’ve done it for you, compiling this list of educational web design best practices.
Take your audience into account
Target audience research is important to create a well-designed educational website. Who will use it: children, teenagers, or older people? Design your UI and UX accordingly. For instance, if you create an e-learning app for small children, use bright colors, images with cute animals, and animations.
Keep your design moderate and simple
Educational websites should have some catchy features and be informative. Nonetheless, heavy fonts, flashy graphic elements, and tons of text on the homepage aren’t must-haves. Choose easy-to-read fonts for bold buttons. Present information unobtrusively, allowing users to find what they want easily. Keep your website or app useful and clean.
The creators of a sophisticated educational solution would want to sound professional to their audience. Nevertheless, the best e-learning website designs are characterized by simplicity both in tone and in appearance. Avoid using big words or over-explaining concepts not to maintain a simple and accessible site and content.
Mind the hierarchy of information
Make sure that users can access all the important sections from the homepage. A well-structured website of a school or college, for example, provides a favorable impression. Viewers are likely to presume that the educational process is also thought-through and well-planned.
Choose relevant and catchy content
Many people prefer visual materials (videos, infographics, etc.) over traditional texts. Provide learners with useful guides, tutorials, reading lists, etc. Make the content engaging, so users would share and discuss it on social media (like the Duolingo’s owl character above).
Split the content into sections
Avoid using large blocks of text or long videos. If you want to convey something complex, divide the content into easily digestible sections. Microteaching, when large chunks of learning materials are dished out one piece at a time, proves to be a really effective technique.
Make your website design flexible
Design trends change fast, and you’d want to keep up with them in order to keep your audience engaged. Make sure that experiments with layout and other site features can be conducted easily to ensure the constant flow of ideas for updates and their implementation.
Provide local language support
If your website or app is to be used by people from different regions, create several versions in various languages. There should also be two ways to present information — for international and local users. Thus, your website will have a competitive advantage in an international arena.
Use a responsive design
Modern learners often study on the go, using various devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs. Make sure your website looks good on any screen. It will help you to reach a larger target audience. Considering the popularity of mobile devices, you might want to employ a mobile-first design philosophy.
Make your app suitable for single-handed use
The above-mentioned study-on-the-go trend means the learners may be using your app, standing in a bus, a train, or in a queue. Therefore, they may often be denied the use of both hands. Create your education app UI design in such a way that it can be used even with one hand.
Common Educational App and Website Design Mistakes
We’ve already mentioned some of the e-learning website design best practices to follow. However, we’d also like to list some of the common mistakes you should try to avoid.
Have one more look at the examples of website designs above. Simplicity is one of their common features. Avoiding some complicated solutions is also a good strategy for apps. Trying to be unique is natural, but attempts to rethink the standard interfaces and symbols don’t always bring value. Make sure that each design element has its purpose.
Unclear Website or App Purpose
A visitor should instantly understand what an educational website or app was designed for. Each of the homepages mentioned above has a clear focus on short and precise mission statements. Make sure you don’t get carried away by adding too many design elements, obscuring the main reason for a person to visit your website or use your app.
Inability to find what they want quickly frustrates users. Some will miss the icon you’ve hidden your navigation under, no matter how evident it may seem to you. While trying to make your website look sleek, don’t risk making it cryptic. Make the navigation crystal clear so the visitor would see it in an eye-blink.
Too Much Content
In website or app design, less is often more. Instead of bombarding the user with information, just highlight the main points. Reduce the amount of content on each page and add some space to let it sink in smoothly.
Not Having A Clear CTA
Make your call to action, like ‘Sign in’ or ‘Get a free trial’, visible. The visitors should clearly understand both what your website or app can provide and the way to get it. Urge them to act and start their journey. Without a vivid CTA, some will get lost and leave before even trying to learn anything from your courses.
Educational Website & App Design Trends to watch for in 2023
Web design practices constantly evolve. To keep your educational app design or website design up-to-date, you should constantly monitor the trends. Here are some of them, which are about to stay around in the near future.
Your users are immersed in the torrent of information, competing for their attention. They may struggle to find what is relevant for them. Fine-tuning users’ experiences to fit their personalities is becoming a must in UI/UX design. Make sure to introduce analytics systems to monitor the digital activities of your users, and change the contente of your website or app accordingly. For example, suggest the courses most relevant to their searches and learning background.
Small animations aren’t something brand-new and their popularity hasn’t reached their peak yet. Subtle movements make your interface look alive, engaging the visitors. Micro animations can also help to direct the user’s attention, emphasizing key areas of a page.
Dark Mode and Low Light settings
More and more companies create website versions optimized for reading in low light. Dark mode or night shift offers users a low-contrast interface, which is more eye-friendly under such conditions. Taking into account that learners may spend significant time interacting with your educational website or app, adding such options may be a good idea.
“Blocky”-looking straight-edged webpages are starting to look obsolete. Asymmetrical design makes websites look more eye-catching. The asymmetry may be slight or strong. In any case, don’t forget that asymmetric design has to have a visual balance.
Like micro animations, video backgrounds help make the page look more lively. Video optimizers minimize their negative effect on website loading time. Moreover, videos can be transformed into GIFs for the sake of further optimization.
While elaborate three-dimensional illustrations may be less popular than in previous years, 3D isn’t dead yet. The trend has transformed into less flashy and more straightforward designs. Text sections and photo galleries, for instance, can benefit from such design solutions.
Excellent educational website design examples
You are already armed with the tips for creating the best education website design. However, seeing some real-life examples will always be helpful. We’ve selected five educational solutions to provide you with illustrations of how a great UI should look like.
iSpring Learn LMS is used for corporate training. It has a simple, user-friendly design, not cluttered with too many buttons, banners, or menus. Both teachers and students quickly get used to LMS’s logical folder-based interface. The user is provided only with the most important information.
Treehouse is an online learning platform with courses in coding and web design. It has a minimalistic design with a clear focus on the goal — “learn to code, design, and more,” and the first step to the goal — filling in the “Free Trial” form. The latter is a great way to
capture the prospect’s attention and get in contact. The user is required to complete and submit a short form.
Codecademy is an online educational platform offering free coding classes in 12 programming languages. Its homepage is simple and has a clear, compelling message — “learn to code for free.” The next action is evident — provide your email and password to sign up or use your social account, which is even easier.
Skillshare is an online learning platform offering thousands of creative courses. Its website provides a great example of appealing to a wide audience. Skillshare uses neutral colors and an easy-to-comprehend layout. The content of the site is quite diverse. Such a site can appeal both to a curious student audience and experienced professionals.
Udacity offers lots of open online courses in business, data science, cloud computing, etc. The homepage has a clear-cut main message and provides easy-to-notice directions for different categories of users. Its distinguishing feature, however, is video testimonials. They are more relatable for the potential learners than usual texts and efficiently attract their attention.
Create the best edtech website design with Menklab!
An effective educational website or e-learning mobile app design should be both simple and informative. Take care to convey your main message clearly. Avoid overloading users with the complexity of content or its amount. Convey information neatly structured and provide vivid CTAs to spur users into action. Following these and other tips we’ve mentioned in this article will make your digital educational product more enticing and, therefore, successful.
The best way to create a great UI is to use the help of experienced professionals. Menklab has such a team. We’ve been developing custom software solutions since 2013. Our clients represent a number of industries, particularly education. One of the stars of our portfolio is Nurture, pre-school management and communications platform for teachers and parents.
The project included creating a web application for school management, as well as an iOS application for teachers and parents, an Android Application for parents, and a web payment portal. All those elements follow the same UI design guidelines. We did our best to make it look concise and informative. Monochromatic design contributes to the sense of coherence. Each category of users (teachers, parents, administrators) can easily find the relevant information.
If you need a great interface for your edtech solution — don’t hesitate to contact us! Share your most challenging projects with us, and we would be glad to make them a reality.