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The Paradox of the User Experience – Why Learning Platforms Struggle Where Other Apps Succeed?

We at Sproutlogix have been working on using technology to improve the enterprise learning experience. One problem that we struggled with initially and that took us some time to get our heads around, is building a good user experience for enterprise learning. In most organizations, the engagement on their learning platform is about 20%, and we thought one of the easiest ways to increase this for our platform was a modern UI and an intelligent user experience. We realized the hard way that the problem is deeper than that.

In our first few iterations, we used some UX best practices, took design cues from applications we were using daily in our work life (Email clients, Slack, and Trello, to name a few). When the beta was ready we were proud of what we had built, but the moment it was rolled out to the end users, the feedback was not as encouraging. During our beta testing, we spent countless hours assisting users on how to use basic features, some of which had a similar UX as apps they were using on a day to day basis. Trust me, it was frustrating sometimes to even talk to these users. We felt like telling them “How were you able to figure the same thing out while using Gmail, Whatsapp or Facebook?”

Once the initial frustration was over, we realized that these issues didn’t stem from just one organization, usage issues were coming from multiple clients. We decided to regroup and brainstorm about what was going on.

As you read further,  you’ll find out about our learnings from this journey.

FOMO-land (Fear of missing out)

Every time a social media platform launches a new feature, they spend time telling people what it’s all about and how it works. But, honestly, that’s not what gets people on the platform using the new feature. People use it because they want to be the first to start a trend, or at least, be in on the trend. Even if they don’t understand how the feature works, they go out of their way to ask their friends or do a web search to get their answer.

Here, the motivation to learn is the fear of missing out!

The DAILY Need for Productivity Tools and Social Media Platforms

Then we looked at other reasons why things worked for productivity tools and social media platforms that did not work for learning platforms.

The answer was simpler than we thought. We were comparing our selves to apps that are ‘necessary’ in a user’s mind. They either are part of a user’s day to day job, make it easier to finish work, or are their social connection to friends and family.

Productivity tools have a direct correlation to the business-as-usual daily work they have to do hence and have a direct impact on performance or appraisals. People come to offices to work, and anything that helps them get work done faster will become part of their day to day life very easily. The management also has a major role to play in the process. Any decision they make becomes the norm that has to be followed by the employees.

Social Media Platforms, on the other hand, are the ‘drug of the day’. They are the cornerstone of modern communication and irresistible to young and old alike.

Learning on the job – An afterthought

Learning within an enterprise generally is an afterthought for employees. Employees don’t understand the correlation to their day-to-day job and hence tend to think twice before investing time and effort in new learnings.

Managers would rather have their team focus time on their daily deliverables which are directly correlated to performance and appraisals than trying to gain new skills that will improve the quality & productivity of deliverables at a relatively future stage.

Learning Experience – More than just a pretty UI

All the above led us to a realization that building a truly engaging learning experience platform for an organization is more than just a UI that’s appealing and easy to navigate.

Culture and ROI

The first step is having the right culture within the organization with regards to employee development and learning. If leadership knows the value of learning and is educated on how it can increase productivity, they will push teams to focus more on it. In most cases, leadership lacks the right tools to measure learning & development and align it directly to their desired ROI.

Understanding the Value of Learning & Development

Secondly, if individuals can improve their skills while using them on the job they are more likely to treat learning as a valuable function. If they understand how learning puts them on the path to career growth

Manager Accountability & Ownership

Lastly, if managers are made inclusive and accountable for their teams’ learning, without having to spend countless hours managing it, the employee’s engagement levels with their own development will definitely go up…

The Outcome – Develoop, An Intelligent learning that Actually works

We put everything that we learned from our experiences and our clients into an intelligent learning platform which :

  • Helps employees-
      • Have a clear picture of their learning plan
      • Apply learning in real life and get feedback
      • Get recommendations on next steps without having to search a vast library of content
  • Helps managers-
      • Managing employee development despite time constraints
      • Suggest next steps for their employees
      • Understand their teams’ skills profile and gaps
  • Helps leadership-
      • Measure the impact of employee development
      • Find right candidate based on skills for jobs and roles
      • Quantify return on their learning investment

The emergence of various players in the learning market and the constant need for new skills in a company says it all. It’s time learning, as a function, be given the same importance and attention as any other. With regards to technology, although a friendly and clean UI is a must, it alone won’t suffice. We learned it the hard way. Did you ever face any of the above challenges in your organization? Let us know in the comments below. To get a sneak peek of our new and improved platform, check out our latest product video – .


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