COMMENTARY – Design Analysis of D2L: Too Many Clicks

(Originally posted on the blog for my section of WRTG 3035: Technical Communication and Design.)

Here’s another entry into our collection of design successes and failures.

As the “designer” in a D2L course, you have the option to create custom “widgets” to go on the home page. These widgets can contain text, images, links, or whatever else you’d like.

If you use a widget for content you plan to update regularly, you’ll most often want to access the “content” section of the widget’s settings. But whenever you try to edit a custom widget, you’re always taken first to its “properties” section, where the main things you can do are change the name of the widget and/or its description.

Of all the areas in the widget’s settings you can customize, the “properties” area is probably the least likely to ever be changed, so why is this the first area you’re taken to when you click on the “edit widget” link? You then have to click on the “content” section (or another section) to get to the parts you’re most likely to want to actually edit, which is an unnecessary extra step.

d2l widget editing box

As indicated in the screen shot, another problem with the “properties” area is that it contains a description box that can fool users into thinking that that’s where you enter the content.

Recommendation: Given that users are most likely going to want to edit the content section, that’s what should appear first. Having the “content” area appear first might also reduce the confusion caused by the description box on the “properties” area.