Skip to main content

04

Oct 2018

The best authoring tools for designing learning in-house

Blog posts

Kineo

Kineo

Shaping the future of learning

DIY culture is all the rage. From make-your-own craft blogs and DIY dining experiences to the continual rise of the ‘how to’ video, the ‘do it yourself’ trend is going nowhere. And the elearning world is no different. 

There will always be projects where you’ll need to engage the talents of a bespoke elearning agency but we are also seeing more cases of businesses taking control of their own elearning development and keeping it in-house. And the right authoring tool makes that simple. But where do you start? How do you navigate the maze that is the authoring tool marketplace?
 

Find the right authoring tool for your L&D team

Every team and business has different needs, so before you start looking at the authoring tool marketplace, you need to decide what your must-have features are.

Here are the core features to consider when choosing an authoring tool:

  • Design capability: Are you looking to wow your learners with bells and whistles or is keeping things simple best? Will you be doing systems training? In need of something truly exceptional in look and feel? The tool you choose will have a big impact on the final design. 
  • Learner experience (LX): Do you want a contemporary scrolling design or a more linear, ‘traditional’ approach? Where do you stand in the ‘click next to continue’ debate?
  • Ease of maintenance: How skilled are your in-house team at building and editing content
  • Responsive design: Does your module need to be responsive? What devices will learners use to access the learning? Does the tool provide the experience you need on every device?
  • Accessibility: Will you need to meet accessibility guidelines? The extent to which you can meet these guidelines differs between the tools, so knowing this in advance is key.
  • Translation: Is your audience global? Will you need to translate or localise the content?

Other points you might want to consider:

  • Reputation: How established is the tool in the market? If it’s award-winning, you can feel confident in its proven track record.
  • Budget: And, of course, we can’t forget cost – both in terms of development and the tools themselves. Is the cost of the license or subscription within your budget? Will you need to test across several devices? How complex is your content?
     

The five authoring tools Kineo most commonly recommends

Once you know what you need from an authoring tool, you’re ready to explore the options available – and to help narrow down your choice, here are the top authoring tools we recommend.

 

authoring-tool-adapt-logo.png

1. Adapt Authoring Tool (AAT)

Considerations How the AAT shapes up
Responsive design
  • Content automatically repurposes to the learner’s device, whether PC/laptop, tablet or smartphone
Reputation
  • Well established in the market – it’s won multiple awards
Design capability and LX
  • Has the ability to deliver relatively high-end solutions with a mix of media and a branded look and feel
  • Creates a contemporary, web-like experience
Ease of maintenance
  • Content is easy to maintain with ability to create new courses
Budget
  • Easy and cost effective to develop, but costs increase the more devices you need to test on
  • Small set up cost, with additional budget required for hosting and support
Accessibility
  • Soon to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA
Translation
  • Easy to export, translate and re-import in left to right and right to left languages

 

What’s the conclusion?

Easy to maintain and responsive in design, the AAT is the choice for those wanting a glossy learning experience on the go.

 

authoring-tool-articulate-logo.png

2. Articulate Storyline 360 / Storyline 3

Considerations How Storyline 360 / Storyline 3 shapes up
Responsive design
  • Works across PC/laptop, tablet and smartphone
  • Not fully responsive – content is scaled down for smaller devices
  • If you want responsive you’ll need Articulate’s Rise tool, which comes with the subscription for Storyline 360
Reputation
  • Versions of Storyline have been available for several years
Design capability and LX
  • Typically delivers mid-range solutions, but flexibility to develop high end at additional budget
  • More traditional, linear design compared to tools that enable scrolling
Ease of maintenance
  • Easy to maintain with ability to create new courses
Budget
  • Cost effective for simple content, but the manual process means high-end content can be time consuming
  • High subscription cost for Articulate 360, or a one-off cost for Storyline 3
Accessibility
  • HTML version meets Section 508 requirements, but screen reader functionality is poor
Translation
  • Easy to export, translate and re-import in left to right and right to left languages

 

What’s the conclusion?

If you want a tried and tested tool, have a simpler content requirement, a smaller budget and enjoy a more linear experience, Storyline 3 is for you.

 

authoring-tool-lectora-logo.png

3. Lectora 17

Considerations How Lectora 17 shapes up
Responsive design
  • Responsive to multiple devices - PC/laptop, tablet and smartphone
  • Content repurposes to suit the user’s device and text size increases for smartphones
Reputation
  • Well established – versions of Lectora have been available for many years
Design capability and LX
  • Delivers mid-range solutions with standard interactions
  • Can be linear or a scrolling web-like experience (although the latter involves more effort if you want to include interactions)
Ease of maintenance
  • Maintenance is relatively simple, but can be time consuming to ensure changes are OK on all views
Budget
  • Inexpensive licence and maintenance fees
  • Extra developer and graphics time needed to ensure courses work on all devices and orientations
  • A scrolling layout with interactions requires significantly more time and effort
Accessibility
  • Standard builds are AA accessible but custom builds become single A
Translation
  • Easy to export, translate and re-import in left to right and right to left languages

 

What’s the conclusion?

Lectora is a well-established tool that’s easy to use and relatively inexpensive. It’s best for projects that don’t require too much bespoke work, particularly if time and money is tight, or accessibility a key requirement. 

 

authoring-tool-elucidat-logo-01.png

4. Elucidat

Considerations How Elucidat shapes up
Responsive design
  • Responsive design that optimises content to suit the user's device, from PC through to smartphone
Reputation
  • Newer, but well established and a Brandon Hall Award winner
Design capability and LX
  • Typically delivers more mid-range solutions
  • Can be linear or scrolling web-like experience
Ease of maintenance
  • Maintenance is simple – the Learning Content Management System (LCMS) features mean several courses can be updated at once
Budget
  • Ready-made templates make simple content very quick and cost-effective. You can also create your own pages from scratch if you're prepared to invest a little more time
Accessibility
  • Meets Section 508 accessibility requirements
Translation
  • Easy to export, translate and re-import in left to right and right to left languages

 

What’s the conclusion?

Elucidat’s best for those with a more a straightforward build who want an easy to use tool with multi-device capabilities.

 

authoring-tool-captivate-logo.png

5. Captivate 2019

Considerations How Captivate 2019 shapes up
Responsive design
  • Responsive to multiple devices – PC/laptop, tablet and smartphone
Reputation
  • Versions of Captivate have been available for several years
Design capability and LX
  • Delivers low/mid-range solutions compared to the other tools on this list but is particularly strong for systems training
  • More traditional linear design compared to tools that enable scrolling
  • 360˚ media support so you can deliver virtual reality (VR) learning experiences
  • Interactive video support
Ease of maintenance
  • Content is easy to maintain, with training available to enable more advanced changes
Budget
  • Easy to use and cost effective to develop content, with an inexpensive subscription cost
Accessibility
  • Simulations and demos meet Section 508 and WCAG 2.0
Translation
  • If translation is a requirement, the tool allows you to import/export XML, or export Captivate as a Word document or captions

 

What’s the conclusion?

If you have a systems training requirement and prefer a traditional linear design, Captivate has what you’re looking for. The support for VR learning experiences makes this tool one to watch in the future.
 

Which tool will you choose?

As you can see, there’s a whole host of great authoring tools out there, from the multi-device marvels to the accessibility aficionados. Their ultimate suitability all depends on the individual requirements of your project.

We hope these comparisons make choosing the right tool that little bit easier. And don’t forget that Kineo are always on hand to help. We offer capability services to help you through the content creation journey, such as building templates and guidelines and training up your team. With our support you can be sure of a seamless learning experience between your platform and your elearning content, whether you’re creating a piece of learning in-house or collaborating with us on a bigger project.

Kineo

Kineo

Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.


Leave us your comments