why it’s important to visualise your learner

category: engagement
Successful eLearning isn’t just about having a well-built course, but ensuring that the content is what users actually want. If you can’t imagine your target learner as a particular individual or group, there is a high chance it could fail.

It only takes a quick scan of the internet to find an array of eLearning courses for just about any and every topic. With such high competition, some of them just never make it off the ground. These courses aren’t of bad quality however; most of them have likely been created by experts in their field. The problem is that they simply don’t engage with their audience as well as others. Successful eLearning isn’t just about having a well-built course, but ensuring that the content is what users actually want. If you can’t imagine your target learner as a particular individual or group, there is a high chance it could fail.

Customer segmentation is a common marketing tactic to help businesses effectively engage with its intended audience. People buy from people they relate to, so you need to structure your content with this in mind. A great eLearning course is only great for people who want it, after all. Even if it’s a required in-company course that you’re creating, the outcomes will be determined on how well you connect with your users.

Let’s assume you are building a hobby photography course for beginners. Who would your target customer be? If you think “people who don’t know anything about photography” then you are thinking too broadly. You need to really understand more about your audience so that the content is directly useful. Here’s an example of two learner personas to explain why.

Max and Wayne

Meet Max. He’s a 20-year- old university student who is living in a big city. He lives with his friends, goes out at the weekend and works as a part-time bartender. He’s interested in photography, but he doesn’t have a lot of free time and has a low budget. He saves up his student loan and likes to go to European festivals in the summer. As a millennial, he’s extremely computer literate.

Now meet Wayne. Wayne is 45 years old and lives in a village with his wife and two young children. He works hard as an IT manager, earning a good income and a nice house. On Saturday afternoons Wayne likes to go to his home office for a few hours and enjoy his hobbies, such as playing guitar. Recently he’s decided he would like to give photography a try. Thanks to his job he’s quite computer literate, but more so with business systems. He wouldn’t know where to start with programmes such as Photoshop.

what’s different?

While both of these individuals are beginners in photography, their interests and capabilities are very different. Max would like to learn how to get good photos on his trips away every year so that he can upload them to Instagram. As he lives in a city, he will likely start taking photos of urban landscapes and cool street art. He has a little bit of time most days to do a photography course, so he’d need short and concise lessons. He would probably prefer to complete a course via a mobile device and would like to know about low-mid range cameras that don’t require lots of additional equipment.

Wayne, on the other hand, has the budget for an expensive quality camera and would not be phased by needing to purchase additional products. He will want longer, focused sessions because he will commit a few hours every Saturday. As a family man, he’ll want to take good portraits of his wife and children, and maybe of wildlife or nature around his local area.

Everything from the colour theme to the structure of the course would vary between these two individuals. Being able to engage both with the same content would be near impossible, and trying to accommodate both would actually accommodate neither for being too broad and not relatable. The more you can find out about your user group, the better. If you are focusing on a specific employee group for example, find out about their knowledge gaps, average age, and preferred learning style.

Something interesting will happen when you can visualise your customer, too. The quality of your content will improve, and you’ll write and speak more naturally. Getting into the flow of talking to a real person will give you a clear and focused tone. It can be incredibly intimidating creating a course for the whole internet, but miles easier for a person.