Make Your Training Manuals Mobile-Friendly in 3 Easy Steps

To keep up with the preferences of current and future learners, your digital training materials need to be mobile friendly. Getting there doesn’t have to require a significant investment of resources. There are a few simple steps you can take to optimize your existing content for mobile viewing.

The Need for Mobile-Friendly Training Materials is Increasing

Mobile learning remains one of the fastest growing segments in the e-learning market.  Your training participants want to access educational materials where and when it’s convenient for them. And, they’re becoming even more comfortable doing this on their smartphone or other mobile device.

In fact, your future participants have already fully embraced mobile learning. 67% of students already use mobile phones to complete their coursework (Source: Learning House and Aslanian Market Research Study).

According to the Mobile Learning Global Market Report 2022, the mobile learning market is expected to grow from $54 billion in 2022 to $155 billion in 2026. And it’s projected that over 72% of internet users will access the web only through their smartphones by 2025.

Mobile learning also coincides with two other growing education strategies: microlearning. where smaller pieces of content can be consumed more quickly, and just-in-time training, where information is accessible at the time and place its needed.

Turn Existing Training Materials Into Mobile-Friendly Content

This is what a mobile-optimized document looks like:

  1. It loads quickly
  2. An entire page fits within the width of the screen
  3. The content is broken up into smaller, scannable sections

If you already offer a digital version of your training manuals, booklets, and other educational materials, you don’t have to start over from scratch. It is possible to make a few modifications to your existing content to meet these criteria.

1. Re-flow the document text

If the pages in your training manual have multi-column text, change it to a single-column format to eliminate the need for left-to-right scrolling. While vertical scrolling is common on on mobile devices, horizontal scrolling is extremely disruptive to the user. It increases the time it takes to read a document while reducing comprehension.

You can also look for opportunities to add white space and break up longer blocks of text into smaller paragraphs to make it easier to read on a smaller device.

2. Minimize the file size

Mobile devices have less processing power than a desktop computer. The last thing a user needs in a time-critical situation is a PDF file that takes too long to open. There are several file optimization tools available in Adobe Acrobat®. The exact steps will depend upon which version of Acrobat you’re running, but some general guidelines include:

  • Use the Reduce File Size command or PDF Optimizer
  • Enable Fast Web View in the File > Preferences dialog box
  • Unembed unnecessary fonts
  • Downsample or compress images

3. Create bookmarks or hyperlinked table of contents

If you have a longer textbook or training manual, it may be impractical to break it up into separate, shorter documents. But it is possible to make these documents easier to navigate by using bookmarks in your PDF. These bookmarks create jump destinations that link to other documents or web pages.

If your content lives in an online resource library or publishing platform, each publication can be broken out into easy-to-navigate, hyperlinked sections.  Many digital publishing platforms offer contextual search capabilities so users don’t have to scroll through hundreds of pages to find the answers they need.

Providing mobile access to training materials is going to continue to be a key component of professional development programs moving forward.  Future educational content will be designed using a mobile-first approach. In the meantime, your existing content can still work if you take simple steps to optimize documents for mobile delivery.

Learn How One Association Takes Its Online Content Beyond the Conference

The International Wire and Cable Symposium (IWCS) understands how important technology and innovation are to its members, which is why the association has embraced digital options in addition to the traditional print offerings to deliver conference content to its attendees.

IWCS also realized that each digital format is a separate entity, and attendees use each to accomplish different things. An app isn’t simply a digital version of a printed program; it’s a different animal altogether, with its own purposes and strengths. Considering these points, IWCS wanted to make their conference materials available in a wide variety of formats.

IWCS offers content from its annual meeting in print, on a conference content website, on a USB, and through a mobile app. The association also uses an online abstract management system for collection and review.

The conference content website is a cornerstone IWCS’ digital strategy. As a result of taking its conference content online, IWCS accomplished these worthy goals.

Strengthened academic relationships
Members of the academic community must “publish or perish,” and a digital publishing platform makes it easier for professionals to gain exposure. Space is much less limited online than it is in a printed book of proceedings. Since IWCS added online conference materials to its content offerings, academic participation has skyrocketed.

Extended the lifecycle of the conferenceOnline content can be accessed by search engines, which increased IWCS’ online visibility. Not only could attendees easily find the content they needed, but others in the industry could find conference materials as well. Prospective members and attendees could access IWCS’ high-quality, well-vetted content, which could give them just the push they need to join the association or register for the conference.

Learn more about how IWCS took its content digital—read the case study! For more tips on using your online conference materials to meet your association’s goal, download our whitepaper Tap Into The Full Potential of Your Online Conference Materials

Differences Between Digital Publishing Platforms and Learning Management Systems

Previously, we observed that there are many names for Digital Publishing Platforms.

Some of these included:

  • eLibrary
  • Proceedings Central
  • Central Repositories
  • Resource Center
  • Digital Library
  • Body of Knowledge
  • Electronic Resource Library
  • Knowledge Library
  • Knowledge Center

One phrase that is not on the list above and one that is not a synonym for a Digital Publishing Platform: LMS, or Learning Management System.

Digital Publishing Platforms are NOT Learning Management Systems

Organizations like associations usually have a content strategy. An LMS and a Digital Publishing Platform are two different tactics.

Typically, an LMS contains training materials or a library of knowledge. If an organization issues continuing education credits, the LMS probably disseminates the education, administers a test, records a score and issues the credits.

Sometimes it’s not that complex. Some associations want to manage their content inside of a closed system for member benefit only, like with Sharepoint. With a system like Sharepoint, one can manage access to content and hold a large amount of content.

When I talk to people who use Sharepoint or an online LMS, they tell me what’s missing is the discoverability of their content via today’s smartest search engines. Unlike Superman, search engines cannot see through walls. The wall is your Association Management System (AMS) or access control—the control that’s hiding your content from the outside world.

Exposing Educational Content to Search Engines and Members

Digital Publishing Platforms house educational content online and help improve discoverability and searchability.

What does this mean? Your content’s footprint is larger, so it becomes more discoverable.

Here’s how it works:

Suppose one could expose the educational content of an organization to Google, Bing and Yahoo? If an association’s content is indexed by search engines, people who search for its industry’s issues, content and education will naturally find the association’s website, its PDFs, webinars, teleconferences, audio files, publications, proceedings, journals and other types of content it wants to leverage to attract visitors.

Learning Management Systems Can’t Replace Digital Publishing Platforms

Discoverability is only the beginning. Here are 4 more things a knowledge center can do that an LMS cannot:

  1. Help monetize content with the use of an integrated eCommerce platform.
  2. Enhanced searchability using metadata.
  3. Host multiple content types including journals, books, reference work, webinars and other scholarly content.
  4. Easily share content using integrated widgets linked to Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn or RSS feeds.

Check your content strategy. Are you serving only your members? How will you attract new ones?

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