I meet a lot of elearning developers when I’m on the road delivering Articulate training. One of the common concerns a lot of these developers have is how to make their content look good and make sense. Most of us are not graphic designers. I myself started my career as a primary school teacher. However when creating online courses we need to know how to make things looks good. We know that we process visuals nearly 60,000 times faster than we process text. Therefore should we look to other disciplines and how they use certain models to hook and engage the audience?

AIDA model is a traditional communication model used in advertising. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.  Advertisers use this model to get people to buy-in to a product or service  Most of us elearning designers are not trying to get our audience to buy something but we are trying to get them to ‘buy-in’ to what we have to say. So shouldn’t it make sense that we look at incorporating or thinking about models such as AIDA to get our users attention. So what is AIDA? I’m a big believer in not reinventing the wheel so I’ve used the definition from a blog post by Chris Joseph, Demand Media.

  • Attention – The attention portion of the marketing message occurs at the beginning and is designed to give the prospects a reason to take notice. Presenting a shocking fact or statistic that identifies a problem which can be solved by the product or service is one common method of gaining attention. Other methods can include asking a thought-provoking question or using the element of surprise. The purpose is to give the prospects a reason for wanting to learn more.
  • Interest – Once you’ve gained the prospects’ attention, the next step is to maintain interest in your product or service to keep the recipients engaged. Explain to the recipients how the problem you’ve identified in the attention step is adversely affecting their lives. A demonstration or illustration can help the recipients to further identify with the problem and want to actively seek possible solutions. By personalizing the problem, you’re making it hit closer to home
  • Desire – In the desire stage, your objective is to show the prospects how your product or service can solve their problem. Explain the features of the product or service and the related benefits and demonstrate how the benefits fulfill the need.
  • Action – Now that you’ve created the desire about the product/service, the final step is to persuade the prospects to take immediate action.

In his books, Michael Allen notes that our elearning courses should have the 3Ms:

  • Memorable
  • Meaningful
  • Motivating

For me this ties in well with the AIDA model. It also relates to changing the way we think about presenting our content in our courses. It took me a long time to get rid of my PowerPoint baggage and my love affair with bullet points, layout, etc.  I pity people who had to take some of my early attempts! Now my focus is on visuals and creating an engaging user experiences rather than just regurgitating content on a screen

AIDA works for me. It forces me to think outside the box and pushes the realms of what I can do.  In the elearning world we need to get our message across efficiently and effectively. Using techniques like AIDA can help get closer to the Holy Grail…..elearning courses that are engaging and worthwhile!

Ruth McElhone About Ruth McElhone
Ruth is the Learning Director, B Online Learning. She holds a MEd. and is an Articulate Certified Trainer. Ruth has a passion for new technologies, social collaboration strategies and the impact they have on learning. Her extensive role at B Online Learning includes managing and facilitating the Master eLearning Course. This course instructs learning professionals how to design, develop and deliver eLearning courses effectively and efficiently in the workplace, whilst engaging them in a social community of eLearning best practice. She manages the Certified Articulate training programs in the Asia-Pacific region and was recently awarded BEST ONLINE FACILITATOR at the LearnX 2013.