You speak Klingon. I speak Dothraki. How will we ever design together?

Following the death of eLearning, the time has come for learning organizations to invest in defining their standards for the digital learning product development.

For us, that begins with a design system. A well-crafted design system is more than a set of rules to follow in creating digital learning products—it becomes a common language that your learning designers, and even your external partners, will speak while creating digital learning experiences.

One of our inspirations for this line of thinking is Airbnb. They have a great story on how they created their design language system.

“Here’s the simple truth: you can’t innovate on products without first innovating the way you build them”
–Alex Schleifer, Airbnb

One of the foundations of the Airbnb design language system is their unifying design principles, which are:

  • Unified: Each piece is part of a greater whole and should contribute positively to the system at scale. There should be no isolated features or outliers.
  • Universal: Airbnb is used around the world by a wide global community. Our products and visual language should be welcoming and accessible.
  • Iconic: We’re focused when it comes to both design and functionality. Our work should speak boldly and clearly to this focus.
  • Conversational: Our use of motion breathes life into our products and allows us to communicate with users in easily understood ways.

Unifying design principles help to guide discussions and decisions on the design system. While design principles will vary from organization to organization, we would modify the list above slightly for digital learning product design:

  • Unified: Each piece is part of a greater whole and should contribute positively to the system at scale. There should be no isolated features or outliers.
  • Relevant: Whether content or a feature, every aspect of the learning experience will have relevance to the learner and the subject matter.
  • Inclusive: We believe that learners should be able to see themselves in each learning experience. Our use of imagery and iconography will be inclusive of all.
  • Human: Our use of use of language, imagery, and interactions will feel personal to the audience.

As learning designers, we must look outside of our profession on our journey to adopt best and next practices to define the products we create.

At WeLearn, we believe in equipping our clients with the ability to do big things and to do great work. An emerging part of our practice is to work with organizations who are looking for a new way of doing things. We look for partners who seek out ways to enhance the impact of their digital learning products, whether they are for their employees, their customers, their partners, or their members. That work begins with defining the organization’s unifying design principles.

If this dialog is resonating with you and you want to talk more, reach out! We are always up for a good discussion.

If you are still on the fence, that’s cool too—we hope you will stick around as we continue this dialog.

Together we learn.

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