UX of Learning Design

UX of Learning Design

We had a chat to Todd Hammington, our Lead Visual Designer, to hear what UX of Learning Design means to him…

Q: What’s UX?

Don Norman from Apple coined the term UX in the 90s. In a nutshell – UX relates to human experience with anything – a service, a product, a business, etc.

Q: What does UX of learning design mean to you?

UX is at the centre of everything we do in learning design. It’s a perfect environment for UX design because we’re trying to teach people something. We’re always looking to empathise, understand  and provoke an experience where the result lies in the user learning something new.

Essentially our Learning Designers are User Experience Designers – they’re taking a pragmatic and scientific approach to designing something. We’re researching the users, we’re creating personas, putting our feet in the shoes of the learner/user. We’re moving the user right to the front of the queue rather than getting caught up in stakeholder or designer bias. And that is the science of UX.

Q: Why is UX design important?

It forces us to take a measured approach to design – design is such a subjective field, where one person might not like the colour blue and the next might love it. When appropriate, UX design can take away those biases and provide a scientific approach to designing a solution.

At the same time, in our world, I still think there’s a huge amount of room for innovation. It’s about finding the right balance between the two. You work with a base of data and then use that to enable innovation to take ideas and design to a new level.

Q: What’s the difference between UX and UI design? People often get them confused.

They’re two very different disciplines. UX design is a scientific approach involving research that assists you from end-to-end design. In our case it’s the creation of the learning deliverable.

UI design is more focused on the visual interface. It could be anything, e.g. a website, app or product. UI is the thing the user will touch, see, experience. UI designers typically work on UI kits, design systems, create layouts, buttons, icons, type and interaction innovations. Some consider UI to be a subset of UX – it’s the visual element of the UX research that’s been done. They work symbiotically with each other.

Want to see the formal definitions?

UX – is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usabilityaccessibility and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. User experience design encompasses traditional human-computer interaction (HCI) design, and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.

UI – generally, the goal of user interface design is to produce a user interface which makes it easy, efficient and enjoyable (user-friendly) to operate a machine in a way which produces the desired result. This generally means that the operator needs to provide minimal input to achieve the desired output, and also that the machine minimises undesired outputs to the human.

Q: What makes for good UX design?

The measurements – it’s a scientific approach. The measurements are the most tangible aspects. For example, do users like a green or red button – you might A/B test that and use it to influence/challenge the stakeholders requirements.

I often find this testing proves my thoughts on the best choice wrong – and that’s the power of it, you can’t argue with it.

Q: How did you get into UX?

That was a long time ago – we didn’t use it on a design project for an app and learnt the hard way. We’d siloed ourselves as the design and development teams – we thought we knew the best way. Turns out we didn’t – and we got a lot of drop off. It was still good, but it could have been a lot better.

Then we reapproached our design using UXD principles – we created user personas and tested our work with them – and things fell into place.

There are still products out there that can leverage off existing frameworks, but if you’re doing something unique/innovative – it’s silly not to use a solid UX design process.

Q: How do you keep UX front of mind?

It’s all about collaboration between functions and clients for me. Recently I worked with a really good UX designer. I worked right next to her and it was a huge help. I learnt how to include it in my work at a consistent level.

Q: What the most important rule/principle of UX?

As I mentioned before, it’s finding the middle ground between data and innovation. That’s so important. It’s great for coming up with informed decisions – but using UX to enable innovation is where things become really interesting.

Q: Best book you’ve read on UX

Don’t make me think – Steve Krug

The Design of Everyday Things – Donald Norman

Lean UX – Jeff Gothelf


Todd is the Lead Visual Designer here at Inspire Group and a humble soul with an eye for all things beautiful. Whether it’s creating beautiful design with the learner in mind or collecting gold medals on the world stage for Karate, Todd will push the envelope. He is humble too which his clients love. Did we say that already? He didn’t tell us about his gold medal. We had to Google it. That’s how humble Todd is.


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