10 Mistakes in Elearning Design: Redundant Navigation

Welcome to my new series, 10 Mistakes in Elearning Design! In each article, l will cover a particular mistake that I see new elearning developers make. We’ll cover navigation, interactivity, visual and auditory design, and quizzes.

As an instructor, I have graded hundreds of Storyline and Captivate projects created by brand new elearning developers in a master’s in instructional design program. I tend to see the same few mistakes made over and over again – little things that make a big difference!

One of the unique things that’s most fun (and most difficult) about being an instructional designer is that it helps to have a lot of skill sets to produce an effective learning experience. You don’t have to be a graphic designer, but it helps to know basic graphic design. You don’t have to be a UX consultant, but you ought to know the basics of usability. It’s important to understand the basics of how people interact with what’s on their screens, and that includes both interactive and multimedia elements.

There are a lot of best practices that you pick up the more you build Storyline and Captivate projects. But here, I’m offering you a shortcut to create elearning that looks more professional without all the angst of making these mistakes in the first place.

I’ve broken up the 10 mistakes I see most often into five categories: Navigation, Interactivity, Visual Design, Auditory Design, and Quiz Design.

Take a look at each of the ten mistakes. These mistakes are specific to Storyline or Captivate, though you might find ways they apply to other instructional contexts. I’ve included examples of Original Designs and then Redesigns. Examine the original designs first – what do you notice? Then take note of how the redesigns are an improvement. Is there anything else that you would change?

Let’s dive in! Our first two posts will focus on Navigation.


Navigation is how your users move through your Storyline or Captivate tutorial. How do your users identify the features that they can click on? If this is a linear tutorial, are there clear next and back buttons?

Take a look at Mistake #1.

Mistake #1: Redundant Navigation

Check out this slide. Take a moment to describe what you see. If you were the user, what would you do next?

Screen shot of tutorial slide showing redundant navigation: there are both custom buttons on screen and nav buttons in the player.

One mistake that often occurs is that new elearning developers forget to hide the built-in player controls in Storyline and Captivate. They create custom navigation buttons, but after they publish, the redundant buttons appear and the learner is left wondering where to click! Oftentimes the built-in player buttons don’t even go to the correct slides as the developer intended.

Screen shot of tutorial slide showing clear navigation

Here is the redesign. What do you see? Where do you click now to go Next? Back?

Clearer, right?

If you create custom navigation, remove the navigation controls from your player. Both Storyline and Captivate offer the ability to customize your player.

Next week’s post will take a look at Mistake #2: Inconsistent Navigation.

See all of the 10 Mistakes now on my YouTube Channel!