7 Fool-Proof Steps to take while Picking a Premium Theme for Moodle

7 Fool-Proof Steps to take while Picking a Premium Theme for Moodle
August 5, 2016 Rajiv Sathian
In Moodle Solutions

Your Theme is the First thing Your User Interacts with.

Choosing the right theme for your Moodle LMS can be a deal-breaker for your students.

If you give them a bland and mundane interface to work with, there’s a huge chance they will drop out sooner than you can say ‘Moodle!’. However, if your theme clicks with the user and it’s a smooth-sailing experience for them, then you get loyal users for the long run.

Based on our experience with creating Edwiser RemUI we have listed 7 Fool-Proof Steps to Pick the Best Premium Theme for Your Moodle. 

Read on.

 

#1 Check Mobile Responsiveness

In a time when Google itself recommends converting all websites to ‘mobile-first‘, why should you be left behind?

In order to check whether the theme is truly responsive, you’ll have to test it (or take a demo) on several mobile devices.

Online tools such as Responsive Design Checker or Screenfly, can be used to measure its responsiveness.

What should I look for to determine responsiveness of a premium theme?

A responsive theme will have simplified navigation on a mobile device- be it cellphone or tab.

  • The load time will be minimal
  • The images and text will resize for optimal viewing and without any loss in quality
  • Minimal zooming, panning and scrolling

Why is being responsive important?

  1. The percentage of mobile learners is growing
  2. Moodle has its own mobile app following the observation above^
  3. You do not have an option :-p

With the increase in the number of internet users on mobile devices, Google has started to boost ratings of mobile-friendly websites; in effect penalizing sites that are not mobile friendly.

To remember: If the theme is responsive or mobile friendly, it will automatically adjust the layout with respect to the device or browser dimensions it is being viewed within. You’ll be able to view and interact with the content as conveniently as that on a desktop.

#2 Look for Uniformity in Design

Moodle in its default setup has a simplistic look- too simplistic some might say.

But what this does, is that Moodle provides a distraction free learning environment.

How do I make sure the theme is not distracting?

A theme you choose might introduce additional colors or elements. And that’s fine. A bit of color is needed. But make sure that a student’s learning path is not affected.

Overwhelmingly bright colours, too many jazzy elements and little usability might be a turn-off for students.

Make sure the color scheme used, the type-face, font and headings are uniform across all layouts. If there are drastic changes from one screen to the other, the time to adapt to these changes will make it difficult to interact with the theme.

Don’t forget, your theme needs to make Moodle look better, not overwhelming.

To remember: Look for a simple, yet modern and creative user interface. Too much colour is distracting.

RemUI

#3 Understand the Information Architecture

Did you also believe that a theme takes charge of only the colour and font? Well, that’s not true.

The theme also dictates the layouts (position of content), navigation (discoverability of content), header, footer and several user-interface elements– basically the information architecture of your Moodle LMS.

The information architecture affects the experience of users of the website and is an important measure when picking a theme.

How do I check if the information structure is well-designed?

When selecting a Premium Moodle theme evaluate the following:

  • Does it simplify or complicate navigation?
  • Are the widgets easy to use?
  • Are the layouts uniform?
  • Do you have difficulty finding and remembering where everything is?

With these answers, you will be sure if the theme you have chosen is worth the investment.

To remember: Your theme should have clean navigation, no loss on the course customisations that Moodle is known for, and, a good User Experience.

#4 Calculate Page Loading Time

A theme you’ve come across looks cool, but takes 6 seconds to load?

Not acceptable!

6 seconds might not seem much to you or me, but in the online world you’ve got less than 3 seconds to engage a site visitor. In fact, your LMS pages need to load within 2 seconds.

“40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.”

Kissmetrics

A theme might be appealing, but if it packs with it a horde of CSS and JS files or large images, it will make the theme heavy and your Moodle, sloooow.

Slow websites affect user experience and your search engine rankings.

Now, this might not be a fool-proof strategy to test theme overheards, (because most themes optimize their demo sites), but you could test the theme’s demo using tools like GTmetrix. Make sure you test several pages to note the loading speed.

To remember: An appealing theme also needs a load time of at most 3 seconds

#5 Check Browser Compatibility

When you talk the most widely used browsers, Chrome and Firefox lead the pack

But yes. The rumors are true.

Internet Explorer is the third-most popular browser that’s used, and you can’t ignore it.

What do I do for an Optimized User Experience?

  • Test the theme across various browsers and older versions of the browsers.
  • Theme developers may sometimes specify browser compatibility. If not, you can use a service like BrowserStack to test theme templates.
  • Check whether all the elements, buttons and widgets appear the same in every browser. If not, its time to chuck the idea.
To remember: The theme should be compatible with every popular browser, because your users may be using different browsers.

#6 Is Customization Possible?

It’s always good to have options.

Now, there might not be a need to customize the theme you pick. Of course minor customizations may be needed.

For example, branding your site by adding your own logo and modifying the colour scheme. But apart from these simple changes, your theme should have you covered.

But if the theme does not provide settings to help you make minor changes, it depends on how comfortable you are with coding that can make customization tasks simple.

What should I expect from a Premium Theme?

A premium theme should provide you sufficient customization options:

  1. To upload your own logo or add the company name
  2. To change button colors, link colors and highlight colors
  3. To edit page templates (add sidebar, display fullwidth)

#7 Verify Documentation & Support

 Yes, features are important in a theme…but rarely do we evaluate the documentation and support.

While the theme’s features are a deciding factor when picking a Moodle theme, documentation and support are just as crucial.

Trust me, you don’t want to spend your time navigating through theme options, wondering what to do. And heaven forbid, if the theme does not behave well, you’ll need developer support.

Premium themes do have a support package and documentation bundled with it. Make sure you go through the documentation of the theme.

How can I be Careful?

  • Read the reviews, to see if existing customers have have had a common issue with the support.
  • Go through the terms and conditions, refund policies and disclaimers before making a purchase.
To remember: The Premium Theme must have proper documentation and Support to avoid being blind-sided in the long run. 

RemUI

Summing Up

Picking the best Moodle theme is not rocket science.

All you need to do, is follow the above guide to make an informed decision. After all, choosing a premium theme should not wrong in the first place.

Do you think there are any points that I’ve missed? Do you have a favorite Moodle theme you recommend to others?

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments, below!

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