eLearning Discovery

eLearning Discovery

(To find out about a Discovery and how it works, visit the GDS Service Manual).

This discovery was to understand the usability and user experience of the e-learning platform Learning@Wales (L@W), used by Local Authorities (LAs) in Wales.

We conducted a user research study with user groups to develop a detailed understanding of requirements, usability issues and user experience of the current system.

About Learning@Wales (L@W)

The L@W Service Management Board (SMB) provides IT service management for the e-learning service.

All e-learning content resides on Moodle which is hosted on NHS Wales Informatics Services (NWIS) servers located in the Blaenavon Data Centre.

The e-learning platform is used by a wide range of organisations across Wales including: The Welsh Government, Swansea University, NHS Wales, a number of LAs and others.

What We Did

We did a user research study with the following user groups:

  • End users – staff at LAs
  • Administrators
  • Heads of Democratic Services
  • HR Directors at LAs

We interviewed a range of users from across Welsh local authorities about:

  • How they have accessed the learning platform
  • Describe their experience – what they like/dislike, what they find difficult to use
  • What else they would like to be able to do on the platform that they currently cannot

We also asked users to show where the platform is a challenge (e.g. HR directors may want to show the difficulties they have with generating the report they want). We also asked participants to rate the platform using Likert scales on:

  • Their satisfaction with the existing platform
  • The ease of use of the platform
  • If the platform meets their requirements

As a result the study provided both qualitative and quantitative data for analysis.


User requirements

The user requirements were gathered through interviewing the various user groups and have been documented as requirements for functionality to be developed for the platform.

Download the full list of requirements gathered.


A heuristic evaluation is a usability audit that is conducted by an expert to check if an interface complies with recognised usability principles.

User experience expert, Sabah Zdanowska from Ventures Consulting conducted this audit.

Normally, a set number of heuristics and a set number of pages on an application or website are selected for the exercise.

The following pages were evaluated as part of the study:

  • Learning@Wales homepage
  • Council landing pages for courses – Denbighshire was the example used for the study
  • Course page – Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence 2020 was the example used for the study

The following heuristics were chosen for the pages to be evaluated against.

Consistency and standards

The system should follow platform and industry conventions. Failing to maintain consistency may increase the users’ cognitive load by forcing them to learn something new.

Visibility of system status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

Recognition rather than recall

Minimize the user’s memory load by making elements, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the interface to another.

Aesthetic and minimalist design

Interfaces should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. It’s about making sure you’re keeping the content and visual design focused on the essentials. Ensure that the visual elements of the interface support the user’s primary goals.

The findings are broken down by heuristic. A potential resolution is also provided for each issue found.

Download the heuristic evaluation.


We did a short accessibility audit, following the guidance of the WCAG Easy Checks was conducted on the Learning@Wales platform to see where the platform falls short in terms of accessibility.

This is only a basic check and should be seen as a starting point for evaluating accessibility of the platform.

The following pages were audited as part of the study:

  • Learning@Wales homepage
  • Council landing pages for courses – Denbighshire was the example used for the study
  • Course page – Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence 2020 was the example used for the study

The Chrome browser was used to conduct the audit. The ChromeVox screen reader was utilised and the remaining checks were conducted using the WAVE evaluation tool. Both are Chrome browser plugins.

It should be noted that findings may be different for other browsers and that not all screen readers work the same way.

The findings are broken down by the types of accessibility checks conducted. An overall pass or fail result is provided for the page on the website for each check.

Download the findings from the accessibility audit.

Competitor analysis

During the requirements gathering work, we found that a competitor analysis had already been conducted by Ceredigion. It was decided that it would be best not to duplicate any work and try to access the analysis that has already been conducted.

Download the competitor analysis (PDF) – Annex A.

Next steps

The Alpha phase of this project is starting in August 2021.

This Alpha will look into options for a platform that meets the requirements and challenges set out during this discovery. In addition to the platform, the content for officers and councillors will be reviewed and tested.

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