With all the advances in eLearning development software over the past several years it can be difficult to choose a product. The objective for online instruction is learning experiences that at least match the best classroom and experiential instruction, at a lower cost. Each design choice demands a match to particular features supported by development software that meets those requirements

Matching software to design requirements

Authoring software must keep pace with changes in practice and technology. In choosing an authoring platform it is vital to think beyond the latest “shiny objects.” Your choices should provide the features and capabilities necessary to expedite agile development and flexible workflow. Look for software that matches your situation, supports the design capability needed for your organization’s strategic goals, and is within the authoring skillsets of your designers and developers.

The key to matching design requirements, skillsets, and workflow can be found in online review sites. There are a number of such sites and it makes sense to take a look at several of them. In addition, the Learning Guild has published many articles and online resources to help practitioners organize this effort and to make good choices based on impartial reviews. Finally, Guild events, both online and in person, feature presentations by experienced developers who address specific approaches to design.

Other factors to consider are the upskilling and reskilling needs of a population of learners still working from home or just returning to the office, and the requirements that instruction must satisfy for development of hard and soft skills, regulatory compliance, and for onboarding of new employees.

Begin at the beginning

Identify key software features that will support the learning experience you are creating. Most organizations use an LMS. You will need to ensure that the authoring tool you choose is compatible with your LMS, and that both the authoring tool and the LMS are compatible with your intended use.

Most authoring tools have a limited range of learning types they can support. For example:

  • Standalone courses installed and running on the learner's desktop machine
  • Web-based courses
  • Soft skills
  • Compliance


Your authoring tools will need to support the media in which you intend to deliver courses. The major categories to be sure about are:

  • Text
  • Video
  • Animations
  • Various image file types
  • Audio
  • Quizzes

Although not a media type, you will almost certainly need your authoring tool to support accessibility features (Section 508 support) for learners living with disabilities.

Ask the right questions

Ask about:

  • The learning curve for developers and for learners
  • The platform (Windows, Mac, mobile, web) that the authoring tool uses

Support in the tool for different types of learning experiences, including:

  • Conventional eLearning courses
  • Microlearning
  • Branching scenarios
  • Simulations
  • Interactive videos

Finally, you will want to ask whether the tool will run on mobile devices.

Know where to find available tools and their requirements

You may try to rely on advertisements that you find online or in the mail, but if you have requirements you may need to review a larger scope of information and tools to find what you need to best serve your situation.

You should search online services that publish impartial reviews and other details of various tools in an easy-to-use format. I recommend three websites that provide efficient filters to help you focus your search: Capterra, TrustRadius, and Software Advice. At the end of this article, I have added links to the reviews in those three sites for some popular software categories.

Finally, if possible, request a trial version of the authoring tool so that you can test its features before making a commitment.

Good luck in finding just the right eLearning authoring software for your situation!

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