Device-Agnostic Content – The Instructional Design Challenge

Okay, so device-agnostic content is the talk of the town. It has to be. With umpteen devices of all kinds releasing every other day, it is almost impossible (and very, very arduous if possible) to tailor website layout to each specific device. As a result, web designers and programmers have found a smarter way out: forget the device. Yes, device agnosticism is all about focusing on the content and designing it in a way that instead of being tied to any particular device, it serves to perform well on the web in general.

Image Credit - Freepik

Image Credit – Freepik

With BYOD on the rise, organizations who are looking to adopt mobile learning have a lot to benefit from device agnostic content. It will be like ‘create once and serve all’ kind of an approach to cater to the various kinds of devices employees bring. However, writing such content also poses a couple of instructional design challenges:

  • Separating content from presentation is almost a cliche in the lingo of device-agnostic content developers. Since the authoring (done by instructional designers) and developing (done by web developers) of content is done by different sets of people, it may be a challenge for developers to educate non-technical instructional designers about what may be good or bad when it comes to making content look good across various devices. Instructional designers may be working on a desktop browser while authoring what goes onto each page. Mapping that onto different devices may not be accounted for, unless they have a clear understanding of how device agnosticism works.
  • Writing effective device agnostic content requires a good amount of meaningful metadata, so that the end device can read it and adapt the content in the best way possible. In case you do not have access to a good usable CMS interface, writing well-structured and metadata enhanced content may be a bit of a challenge.
  • Different devices are more than just their screens. Instructional designers may be focusing on writing content so as to adapt to different user screens, whereas browsing experience is a package consisting of screen size, input methods and their ease (for example, touch sensitivity); as well as the users themselves along with the needs and context in which they search for a particular information.
  • Last but not the least, instructional design, and instructional design for device agnostic content in particular requires you to get down to the micro level: by dividing titles, teasers, body content, ingredient lists, reviews, pull quotes, excerpts, images, videos, captions, related articles, bylines, directions and addresses into different content ‘chunks’ and placing combinations of them in a coherent manner may be easier said than done.

Writing device agnostic content poses a number of challenges. But luckily to start with, a few easy-to-use websites are available that let you preview how your content is going to look on different devices:

–          Responsive Design Testing

–          Responsive.is

–          Responsinator

–          BriCSS

It is important that you test and alter your product throughout the content creation process. Good luck!

Mobile Learning case study

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