It’s #snowmageddon2015 (part 2) here in New England. Just a little over a week ago we were in San Antonio attending the UPCEA Summit for Online Leadership & Strategy, so it’s a good time to reflect on the Texas weather, why our home base is Boston, and an interesting question that we were asked while attending: Why are you here?

One could look at this as both a literal and philosophical question. To some, we probably seem out of place in a conference full of technology vendors. Design can take on many meanings but in the end its goal is simple: make life more enjoyable.

On the surface, this seems like a very simple statement — almost too simplistic. But when things and experiences are more enjoyable, they become more memorable, more engaging, and more compelling. And when that happens, you have created a great user experience.

Let’s look at one thing you can do to create more joy for your users and students.

Our colleague, Shaun Gummere, says ”treat people online like you would in real life.” Online learning is synonymous with innovation and technology. Like with any innovation, there are pros and cons to the experience.

One way to test out an experience is to act it out in a role-playing situation.

  1. Have someone play the role of a student looking to take an online course or program.
  2. Have a colleague play the role of the system.
  3. Start acting out the process of exploring, registering, taking a class, etc. Speak each action out loud. When you get stuck or feel unsure, make a note of it.

Yes, I know it sounds goofy — don’t do a robot or H.A.L. voice — but you will see within a few seconds where your experience succeeds and fails from notes on language, flow, type of questions, etc.

source: cheezburger.com

source: cheezburger.com

In the end, the experience — online or not — is about empathy, about recognizing yourself in others. How someone is treated online should be the same brand experience as someone who walks onto your campus.