5 ways to make linear navigation more interesting

Stuck using a Next button? Here are some ideas to make it less mind-numbing. Read more.

5 ways to make linear navigation more interesting

By Cathy Moore

This slideshow is an attempt to help people make the best of a limiting design. Regular readers know that I’m no fan of the Next button.

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8 comments on “5 ways to make linear navigation more interesting

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  1. Thanks for this, Cathy – I needed a laugh today, and this gave me one while allowing me to feel virtuous about the fact that it was work-related!

  2. Another twist on the complete a sentence would be to tell a joke, story, or anecdote with the punchline on the next slide.

    Storytelling is tailor-made for this approach. This is why good books are called “page-turners” because you can’t wait to turn the page and see what happens next. A course can become a page turner through the use of “builds” where a concept adds an idea that answers a previously raised question, yet at the same time creates a new question. TV serials (like Lost and Heroes) have been doing this for years.

  3. I love the Next button! It’s fun to see how fast I can click it to fly through the boring read-only eLearning I’m constantly subjected to. 🙂

    I do most of my eLearning work in Articulate in a narrated format, and I prefer setting my course to auto advance except for screens that contain interactivity. From my perspective, the Next button is an annoyance best avoided. Imagine a classroom instructor asking “Are you ready for me to go on?” after EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of instruction. That would get old in a hurry, no? Well guess what, eLearning developers – it gets old in eLearning too!

    The Next button in eLearning is equivalent to the Next Page button on a website. Deemed a best practice in the early days of the Web, but now rightly derided as trite, irritating, and completely unnecessary. The Next button in eLearning deserves to suffer the same fate.

    You have my vote, Cathy. Whatever it is you’re running for.

  4. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

    Rick, you’re right that these are fiction techniques. I plan to steal more ideas from fiction in future posts.

    Chris, I think one reason that the Next button continues to be popular is it gives the appearance of learner control–the learner can go as slowly or as quickly as they want. That doesn’t mean it’s the best solution. I often prefer regular-sized HTML pages with menus and embedded Flash, which means there’s more info on a single “page,” so the learner still controls the pace but isn’t clicking every nanosecond.

  5. I’d like to clear up a misconception that appeared in another blog. By saying we could compare & contrast from one slide to the next, I’m not saying we should choose two background colors and alternate from one to the other. I’m saying we should provide contrasting information.

    Janet Clarey’s slideshow provides an example: on one slide we see how Charlene gets her info at home; on the next we see how she gets it at work.

  6. Wait a minute! What!? You mean clicking “next” doesn’t count as interactivity. Oh no…. 🙂

    Another strategy is to use a story or narrative to support the program, leading learners through a mystery or adventure. The “A. Pintura: Art Detective” program offered by Eduweb is a good example.