Thursday, June 19, 2014

Custom Navigation: 3 Examples with Articulate Storyline

Published on May 6, 2013, 10:36 am Written by Ben Saunders



In my post Custom Navigation: Set your imagination and your learners free! I discussed the capability of authoring tools, especially Articulate Storyline, to present a customised and engaging user interface that can both create a wow factor for the user and also maintain the benefits of rapid eLearning development.  I have put together three examples of a custom user interface in Articulate Storyline. Each of the three has a different look and feel and incorporates some of the considerations mentioned previously. Let’s look at each in turn and see what they contain and how they behave.

Freeform Navigation

Click to launch the course

Freeform navigation is where there is no “Navigation Bar”. The participant moves from screen to screen simply interacting with the on screen elements like roll over’s, and clickable items.

In my example “Coffee” the user moves around from screen to screen by clicking on hotspots, dragging and dropping items or clicking the on screen buttons. All of these functions are handled easily in Articulate Storyline by attaching a trigger to the objects or actions that jumps the user to the next required screen.

I have also included a fold out progress menu in the top left of the screen that shows the course topics and displays a tick next to any topics that have been visited by the user. This is achieved by using Layers for the menu, States that display the non-ticked and ticked boxes and variables that change the State from none ticked to ticked once a user has visited a topic screen.

Menu Bar with a Difference

Click to launch the course

In this piece I have used the standard placement of a bottom navigation bar, however instead of the usual Next and Back buttons, users access topics by clicking, dragging and dropping items. In this case slide wheels to a Viewmaster (remember these little gems?).  Once the topic is accessed, screen progress requires interaction with the same drop target. This pulls together the navigation into a continuous theme whilst the initial drag and drop gives a more tactile experience for the user.

Again, Articulate Storyline made this very easy to build using triggers, states and variables to control the actions (drag, drop and screen change), the visual concepts (changing states of objects to denote accessibility) and tracking to fire the visual state changes.

And in case anyone of the younger generations is viewing, the compass in the top right accesses a help screen to show the navigation, just in case Viewmasters are no longer an essential part of one’s developmental years.

More Bells and Whistles (whistles not included)

Click to launch course

The last piece I have built contains all Navigation, Menu, Help and Resource areas in a hidden, Smartphoneesque, panel. This panel is displayed permanently on the home screen but is hidden on the content screens until the end of that screens timeline is reached, at which time it slides in from the side. This allows me to use all of the available screen real estate to devote to the content and for the panel to only make it’s appearance when the user needs to interact with it.

Building this panel into the slide masters on Articulate Storyline also means that the development time, for a custom interface, is substantially reduced. It then becomes a fundamental piece of every screen, and all I had to do was adjust some of the triggers as I went through.

The piece also includes separate screens for Resources and Help that are accessible on all screens in the piece. This also returns you back to the screen you activated those features from so you don’t have to start topics again from the beginning. And of course, standard Articulate Storyline functions like layers, triggers and variables to control the action and on screen progression.

All three of these custom user interface examples took very little time to develop and they represent only the tip of the iceberg for custom interfaces where better graphics and the use of combinations of display and progression could be utilised to build some incredible learner experiences. But I hope at least that this has given you a little knowledge on what is a custom user interface, what you should think of at a basic level when planning to build one and some ideas that will get you thinking along different paths, rather than just Next and Back.

The rest is up to your imagination. 

About B Online Learning
B Online Learning are Certified Articulate Training Providers and also develop custom content and user interfaces using Articulate Storyline. For further information on our services please contact us

About Ben Saunders:
For the past 10 years Ben has been immersed in the world of learning and communication (and training and development), from planning and design to build and implementation, from both the client and vendor perspectives. His experience bridges the gaps between business expectation, technology and learning theory, importantly this allows Ben to translate and articulate business needs into defined learner outcomes. He has experience with various LMS implementations including Moodle, Docebo, Plateau, SABA, DOTS as well as bespoke solutions. Ben is an Articulate Trainer/Developer with B Online Learning.

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