Simplicity Equals Success

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How to Create Simple Yet Effective E-Learning Courses

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One of the most important rules when creating e-learning courses is to make your e-learning courses simple.

You don’t want to frustrate your learners!

This means:

  • No overcomplicated navigation
  • No extreme lengths of text on the slides
  • No interactions for the sake of having an interaction
  • No information that is far from the real world

What is the reaction when I tell this to people?

Everyone agrees with me.

Nobody ever says, “Well, with us, we prefer complex e-learnings anyway!”

But if everyone so agrees on the importance of simple courses

So why does it happen so little in practice?

Because simple sounds simple…

But it’s super difficult in practice.

Simple e-learning courses require at least two things

You have to:

  • really grasp the essence of what problem you are trying to solve
  • dare to make sharp choices

Last week, I read a wonderful example about the CEO of Sony

In the late 1970s, the CEO of Sony Masaru Ibuka asked his engineers for a new product.

He wanted a device that would allow him to listen to music during flights between Tokyo and the US.

After a few months, the engineers presented their design (the design that would later become the Walkman).

They were proud.

For not only had they fulfilled the CEO’s wish, but they had also managed to incorporate an extra feature:

🔴 A recording function.

So you could not only listen to music with the Walkman, but also record music.

But what happened?

The Sony chief informed that they had to scrap that record button.

And that was remarkable because this button would not have added more than a few euros to the price.

So why delete that feature?

On the face of it, a stupid decision. But psychologically, on the contrary, it was brilliant.

Because Sony’s CEO knew that people would be confused by the presence of a recording function.

  • Was the device meant to dictate letters?
  • Am I supposed to record my vinyl record on cassette?
  • Or is it meant to record live music?

And so, the first Walkman lacked the record button.

Purely to make it clear that the device was meant for listening to music (and nothing else but that).

The lack of the record button made the Walkman…


And its very simplicity was a key success factor of the Walkman.



Before you can make effective e-learning courses, you have to:

  • get to the essence (Walkman = listening)
  • make sharp choices (delete recording function)

I liked the story. You hopefully did too!

If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about creating e-learning courses with Articulate Storyline, you can watch my YouTube videos here

See you next week



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