9 Expectations Your Authoring Tool Might Need To Meet And How Some Tools Knock It Out Of The Park

Blue background with expectations text in white and colorful needle pointing to orange.
March 28, 2023
4 minutes
Blue background with expectations text in white and colorful needle pointing to orange.

Does Your Authoring Tool Match Your Expectations?

Of course, the question of whether your authoring tool will meet or exceed expectations will depend on who you are and what you need.

Topics are grouped below, but truthfully, every user or group has a pattern of needs and expectations as unique to them as a fingerprint, making it impossible to definitively predict an eLearning development team's needs based on size.

However, as organization size increases, needs don't shift so much as build, and the bigger you are, the more essential some capabilities become.

For eLearning Authors

Individual authors' needs (and whether an authoring tool can meet them) will vary based on experience level and project specs, but ultimately, there are some demands everyone has in common. Here are a few examples.

Support For Robust Responsive Authoring

Responsive content is the future. While plenty of eLearning authoring tools now offer the ability to author responsive content, the functionality is limited for many of them. In fact, some tools' marketing materials will lead you to believe that responsive authoring means you can't develop highly engaging interactive content or more in-depth approaches such as game-based design. Don't let this fool you, as these "limitations" are simply shortcomings of that responsive tool.

For example, the tool may offer a limited number of configurations for responsive content, or you may need to adjust content for different screen sizes. Certain kinds of interactivity may be missing or limited.

If you're going to invest in responsive content, make sure you're choosing a tool that will rise to the top and live up to your long-term expectations. Check out this past article for a list of questions to help you gauge the robustness of a responsive authoring tool.

Assessment Question Variety

Effective eLearning cannot live by multiple choice and true-or-false alone. A solid authoring tool should have a variety of assessment and activity formats available.

Examples currently on the market include formats as familiar as fill-in-the-blank, matching, and sequencing questions, and as innovative as image hotspots, soft-skill scenarios, and software simulation.

Available Interactions

While the rise of rapid template-based eLearning authoring tools has been a boon for many, authors are often hemmed in by a list of built-in system interactions. This can be frustratingly limiting, depending on the size of the list—your mileage may vary, and authoring tools certainly do. Ultimately, you'll need to decide what fits the bill yourself.

While system interactions can streamline your work, experienced eLearning development professionals often need the ability to create complex custom interactions—a capability that's not available in every tool. This becomes increasingly critical to innovative projects like designing an eLearning game.

For Small-To-Medium Businesses And Organizations

Small-to-medium organizations often hit a tipping point in the size of the content library, the number of collaborators, or both where the features they need from an authoring tool change. Authoring expectations must still be met, but additional features can streamline your workflow and increase the efficiency of eLearning development.

Collaboration And Review Features

Organizations with multiple people contributing to eLearning development need a tool that can facilitate collaboration—preferably in real time.

You may try to get by using third-party tools in conjunction with the eLearning authoring tool of your choice, but you'll be shocked by how much smoother things run when you're dealing with native co-authoring, administration, and review features. When these features are part of the workflow, you can not only reduce time by as much as 25% over "integrated" solutions, but also prevent loss of critical information with features such as page versioning.

Media Management

Some authoring tools provide access to stock media and the ability to add custom assets but include little to no support for browsing and organizing a custom media library.

Many organizations can benefit from giving their authors a shared pool of organizational assets that can be tagged, tracked, and reused in any project. And when we say "reuse," we mean update once and see all instances of the use in different projects updated.

Standardized Branding

Most organizations want their eLearning courses to have a consistent and distinct look and feel that marks them as their own.

Some authoring tools can be hit-and-miss at meeting these expectations. Some tools limit customization to a few key colors and an organizational logo, while other authoring tools let you tailor virtually any aspect of your style or layout.

The most supportive tools make it easy to create branded templates with robust WYSIWYG design options to be used by later authors. A designer can set up various custom templates and styles that reflect your organization's branding. Then an author just picks the layout appropriate for their project and focuses on the content. Features like the ability to save a reusable theme will allow you to make universal updates to your branding later.

For Large Enterprises

More content, more problems. The needs of large corporations and other substantial organizations demand an extra level of complexity from their digital learning development tools.

IP Security

One of the biggest challenges of a big digital learning development team in the modern age is the need to keep all your intellectual property secured in a central location. Legacy authoring tools that are desktop-based certainly don't help—files can be scattered all over the place for editing, and with a workforce that demands more mobility than ever, remote file access can be a pain.

A cloud-based authoring tool with strong security features such as separation of physical installs and SAML2 SSO secure login options can fix this issue. No matter where your collaborators roam, they can access and contribute to projects via browser access. Updates are saved frequently and automatically, backed up redundantly and safe from hardware malfunction, and your IP is reliably accessible to your admins at all times.

Content Management And Organization

Large organizations typically manage large volumes of eLearning content. That's why enterprises need an authoring tool that provides multiple levels of project organization, including the ability to create custom labels, categories, and collections.

Translation And Language Features

International enterprises often need eLearning projects translated into multiple languages, and while the bulk of the effort belongs to the translators themselves, an authoring tool can make this process easy or especially tedious.

Some authoring tools support a larger number of languages than others, which is obviously a key factor.

When tools have equivalent language support, look for a streamlined translation workflow, ease-of-use features for unique styles such as right-to-left languages, and organizational features designed for managing multilingual courses.

Get An Authoring Tool That Will Exceed Your Expectations

When selecting an authoring tool, strongly consider content development costs. Features such as the ones we reviewed can make a tremendous impact on the bottom line of your business. When we develop features for dominKnow | ONE, we try to exceed your expectations, not just meet them. We do this by listening to our users, considering the evolving needs of the eLearning community, and optimizing the solutions to those challenges.

That kind of thoughtful development is why our authoring tool will exceed your expectations in each of the categories above.

Want to know more about dominKnow | ONE's capabilities? Contact me or leave a comment below.

This article was originally published on eLearning Industry.

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