In Start Your Own eLearning or Training Business, the Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. explain how to create a successful distance learning business from the ground up. In this book, you'll find information on all the steps you need to start and run a distance learning business. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer tips on what your website should contain to benefit your eLearning business.
The goals of an eLearning website are to connect the learners and trainers with an elegant design that intuitively guides complex interactions without glitches, sell the product, and convey what the company stands for. Of course, as an online-based business, the pressure is slightly higher for your website to reflect the high quality of your courses’ online experience. While you don’t need to spend your entire startup budget on website design and creation, do not shortchange the site either.
There are some great web design companies that offer sharp solutions developed expressly for eLearning products. Choosing the right web design provider involves making an assessment of your needs and going over each of the provider choices to see which offers the closest fit. Here are some of the things a combination LMS/web host/design service can offer to fill your needs:
- Course creation
- Student registration
- Selling your courses
- Certification management
- Live video conferencing
- Tests, quizzes, and assessment management
- Student portals/forums
Write down a detailed itinerary of several goals different customers may have when landing on your site and how they'll travel through the channels to achieve their goal. Make sure it’s easy and enjoyable. Ask friends and family to test out navigating your site before committing to a design.
The same priorities other businesses use in conveying mission, introducing staff, and providing easy solutions for shoppers are equally important for an eLearning site. A wealth of resources, including demonstrations of your product should also be provided as well as a content rich blog and links to social media. Let’s look at the usual and necessary website components for building your relationship with potential eLearning customers.
Welcome / Home
The look of this page should convey everything about your mission, product and branding with images, layout, and design. Buttons or icons to easily access product demos should be obvious on the homepage. A rule for the homepage is that no matter where you are within the site you should be able to get back to the homepage easily—that's the place where you can access everything else through a menu of single clicks.
The About Us section on your website should show the world your credentials, goals, perhaps how you started your company, and a little of your personality. Because you are a virtual firm, each page on your site needs to make just the right impression and lead logically to the next page. You and your team members should be proud of the accomplishments that have led you to provide your high-quality service and that should show in the content on that page. Listing some of your significant projects and B2B relationships here is appropriate if done in a biography style. A little information about who you are outside of work is sometimes appropriate, depending on what kind of clientele you’re trying to reach.
A professional photo of each team member lends some solidity that yours is a real service and not just a business that hopes to get some action but hasn’t the real talent behind it. Anything you can do to set yourself apart from the degree mills and scammers without any substance behind their claims is good. Cross-linking to business sites you work with gives additional credibility.
Company philosophy and mission
This is about who you are at your core. It's where your ethics intersect the products you sell and the way you treat the world, including customers and employees. Linking to your achievements in the education field or any initiatives you support with your curriculum is appropriate here. Make sure this page conveys the best of what you do in credentials, accreditation, and any other stamps of approval from governing bodies.
Product pages and shipping / checkout
Your ecommerce solutions should be smooth and obvious. If you’ll be charging a monthly fee at three levels for different subscription types for learning, then make that clear and all in one place. Visitors to your website should be able to get more information about a product, or a 1-800 help line here, too.
Landing pages are where you are routed to when you click on a product for details and options. They are for all education about products for your customers.
Linking your website to your own YouTube channel is a great way to extend the product education dialogue your website begins with customers. Each thumbnail of a product can show a larger image when clicked on and, as utilized on Zappos.com, a short video could be accessed to showcase the product in context. You can also embed videos on your site, but using YouTube is often easier when it comes time to make changes and update videos and keyword tags that search engines use to find them. Because YouTube is a Google product, when Google+ users comment on your video, it automatically posts on Google+, potentially expanding your viewing audience.