… and how they created a powerful first impression
This article was originally published on eLearning Industry
Successful demos can make or break any LMS company. We all spend a lot of time preparing for sales demos, orchestrating them, and training people to deliver them. When we do a demo, we want complete control of the product, so the buyer can luxuriate in our great features and skim over the product gaps. We want a great first impression.
Every time a visitor hits your website, you are essentially demoing your LMS. That’s because people subconsciously equate the quality of your website with the quality of your LMS. They figure that if your website is cluttered, hard to navigate, and poorly designed, then your LMS will be too. I’m sure some of them give you the benefit of the doubt, but still, a bad website leaves a bad taste in their mouth that has to be overcome.
On the flip side, if your website is modern, clean, simple, and easy to use, then that’s a positive first impression that puts you ahead.
To establish that positive first impression and sell more of your product, here are six big things you should do to your website. And below that are 10 LMS vendors who are already doing an amazing job at this. Are you on this list?
The Elements Of A Great LMS Website Design
Don’t Avoid Features
Every marketing person will tell you that you need to focus on benefits and not on features. But sometimes we take this too far and don’t talk enough about features.
Serious buyers with real budgets have a list of LMS requirements sitting right there in front of them when they visit your site. They’re looking at things like gamification, responsive mobile, content authoring tool, xAPI, etc. When they land on your site, they want to see those things right away. If they can’t find them, then they will probably mark you off their list.
Most buyers start their LMS search with a list of 10-20 LMS vendors, and their goal is to quickly reduce the size of that list. There’s no better reason to cross you off the list than to discover that you don’t have the features they’re looking for.
This isn’t to say that your website should just be one big data sheet with a long list of features. You still have to focus on benefits and, even more importantly, when you talk about your features, you have to explain them with “benefit language.”
For instance, when describing something like your gamification features:
Gamification: A fast and easy way to promote your training programs and incentivize the right learning behavior with customizable badges, progress tracking, and leaderboards.
Gamification: Badges, points, prizes, progress tracking, social learning, and leaderboards.
It’s Gotta Be Modern
For first impressions, there’s nothing more important than how modern your website looks. Crack open any LMS Request for Proposal and you will find this requirement: “Modern LMS.” Nobody has ever expressed interest in an “old, outdated LMS.”
They all want modern because buyers equate modern with “easy to use,” and everybody wants that. They also equate modern with good looks. They want something that they can be proud of. Something that will make THEM look modern and cutting edge to their learning audience and company executives. Your website has to demonstrate this.
This is an even bigger requirement for LMS buyers from high-tech companies and especially software companies. In a strange twist, your LMS will be a reflection on your customers’ software products. So when their prospects and customers visit their website for training, they will assume that it was built by the software company, not by you. So, their customers and prospects also walk away with a first impression, good or bad.
Here are a few great examples of modern LMS sites:
The Kallidus Learn website has a modern, clean look with a simple, airy layout, and text that’s easy to read.
The Netex LearningCloud website is a great place to be, with innovative animations, striking bursts of color, and visually appealing screenshots.
How many of your prospects visit your site for the first time on a mobile device? I bet it’s more than you think. Most of us focus on the desktop version of our site. We agonize about making everything fit just right on big screens and when we translate it into a smartphone screen, it looks like an afterthought.
Obviously, responsive design is critical. That’s the minimum requirement for a decent mobile version of your site. But a lot of LMS vendors take it a step further. They approach website design with a mobile-first strategy and design the mobile version first, then make it work for the desktop.
Here are a few great examples of mobile-first LMS sites:
The Scrimmage website is what I would call a page-turner, with fluid, easy navigation and scrolling. It feels good to interact with.
You can tell the Agylia website was built mobile-first. It looks fantastic on a mobile phone and balances text and images perfectly.
Clean And Simple
When you set out to build a new website, the words “clean and simple” spring to mind. We all want to build it that way because we prefer that in websites we visit. We’re annoyed by websites that are cluttered and difficult. Also, when we decide to redesign our website, it’s probably because our current site has evolved into cluttered and difficult.
When I think about clean and simple designs, I think about Apple products. They are the most high-profile example of great product design. But there’s one important reason that they can pull it off while so few others can. They have incredible discipline! Steve Jobs had a relentless determination to make his products and software clean and simple, often to the consternation of everyone around him. Over time, his mantra filtered down to the rest of Apple Corporation and it seems to have stuck, even after his death.
Most websites begin their lives as clean and simple, then we add this and we add that, and later decide that some elements are more important, so we make them bigger and brighter. Before long, we have a cluttered mess. Years later, after we’ve had enough of looking at our website, we start again to achieve a clean and simple design.
So understand that to achieve “clean and simple,” you need strong discipline right now, three months from now, a year from now, and beyond.
A good rule of thumb for deciding what changes to make to your site is that if you’re going to add something, then you have to take something away. If you want something bigger and brighter, then you have to make something smaller and duller.
Here are a few great examples of clean and simple LMS sites:
The color palette and images on the Torch LMS website are attractive and you’re not overwhelmed with tons of text.
The designers at Spoke Unboxed have shown a lot of discipline by reducing the text down to the bare essentials and creating plenty of open space.
Write Less And Show More
Speaking of clean and simple, do you know what’s the #1 thing that gets in the way of an open and airy design? Text. Big blocks of text!
Someone once said that, “If I had more time, I would have written it shorter.” The tendency for all of us is to write long. When we don’t really know what’s truly important to buyers, then we cover everything and hope something sticks. This turns into too much text for prospects to wade through, and your most important messages and features get lost.
So, write less and make it more focused. When you’re done, you should have more graphics and white space than text.
One thing that helps reduce text is to know that the purpose of a website is not to give buyers all the information they want – it’s to generate a response. So don’t give it all away. Create some mystery. Give them half the story (but give them the better half). And make them “contact us” for more detail.
Calls To Action (CTA). Early And Often.
An LMS website should be all about creating conversions: Converting visitors into leads and converting hot buyers into opportunities, scheduling demos, starting free trials, and downloading resources.
Whatever it is that you use for your call to action, make it front and center. As they say, “always be asking for the sale.” On websites, always be asking visitors to take an action.
There are many great tools and plugins to help achieve this, like “exit intent,” popups, and live chats. Explore them all and decide what’s right for your site.
Here are a few great examples of LMS vendors who are adept at generating response:
Litmos is one of the fastest growing LMS vendors in the world, and looking at their site, you can see why. They know how to sell. You can tell a lot of time and effort has been put into saying things just the right way.
The Cornerstone website is one of the best sites we’ve seen, with great graphics, messaging, navigation, and most importantly, calls to action. This is a big accomplishment considering they have a lot of different products and a lot of personas they have to cater to.
If you do all of these things well, you will be way ahead of the game, because very few LMS sites do all of them well. If you can be one of the ones who does, then great things will happen.
The Top 10 Best Designed LMS Websites
After evaluating 300+ LMS websites, we selected the following as the 10 best, plus a few bonus sites. The main criteria we looked at were simplicity of design, modernness, good looks, mobile, and ease of navigation.
2. Vowel LMS
6. Torch LMS
10. DayOne Tech
14. Fuse Universal
18. Saba Software
For the complete list of the top LMS Websites and many more tips and tricks for building great websites, download the ebook now.
About the Author
Gordon Johnson has been a marketing leader in the corporate L&D industry for over twenty years. His specialty is developing transformative marketing strategies that generate qualified sales opportunities, employing the latest digital marketing channels, coupled with traditional techniques to achieve industry-leading brand awareness, widespread web presence and high-impact value propositions. Other marketing concentrations include content marketing, messaging, social marketing, positioning strategy, analyst relations, events, account-based marketing (ABM), email marketing, customer success and lead-generation. Contact Gordon.