Designing Drag and Drop Interactions

Drag and drop interactions are a good way to turn static content into an immersive and effective learning experience that transforms learners from passive observers to active participants.

Drag and Drop to Reveal

storyline template drag and drop to reveal interaction
Click on the image to view the demo

A drag and drop to reveal interaction is useful when there is a lot of related information that needs to be displayed on one screen. This type of interaction is effective as it enables learners to physically engage with the concepts, rather than just reading blocks of text.

The Design

In this demo, I wanted to allow learners to choose the order in which they viewed the information (giving learners the freedom to explore for themselves is another way to increase engagement and retention of information).

The screen design for each character is meant to simulate an ID card, which can obviously be customised to include whatever information is relevant in the context of the learning.

The Development

This interaction was developed on one slide, with slide layers for each of the characters.

On revisiting how I set up this interaction to write this post, I’ve found a way to achieve exactly what I set out to achieve in the beginning, which bypasses the original setup where I needed to use a series of triggers to reset the slide once all avatars/characters had been viewed, so I’m very happy about that!!

I’m going to detail the easy way to set this up:

1.  Start with a base layer with a drop zone (shape) and your drag items (in this case, the avatars/characters).
2.  Add slide layers, one for each character.
3.  On the base layer add a trigger for each drag item to show the corresponding layer when the drag item is dropped on the drop zone.

All pretty straight-forward so far, but here’s where it starts to get more complicated.

5. On each slide layer add a duplicate image of the character (made a bit larger) and a “swivel” animation to this image to create the illusion that the image had just been moved here.
6.  Locate the relevant drag image in the base layer area of the timeline and hide it – this is something I missed being able to achieve on my original design – but this is a very useful thing to keep in mind, particularly in this type of design where I only wanted to hide the avatar/character image of the character relevant to the layer currently being viewed.

drag and drop interaction

7.  Then add a trigger to each layer to “hide this layer” when the user clicks on the “close cross” in the top right-hand corner of the ID card. This takes you back to the base layer, where you get to choose to drag another drag item onto the same drop zone.

Here’s where you need to be a bit more knowledgeable about “Drag & Drop Options” in Storyline. Here’s what I set for this interaction:

drag and drop options storyline

Take particular note of the “Allow only one item in each drop target” setting. This setting means you can set this up with one drop zone and several drag items and the behaviour with these settings will look like this:

I’m always really conscious about what you can do with drag items in an interaction like this one. In this case, the only thing the learner can do it to drag the drag item back off the ID card and into its original spot – pretty harmless. If they don’t figure out they can do that, when they drag another drag item onto the drop zone, the item already in the drop zone will return back to its original position because of the setting “Allow only one item in each drop zone”.

One last thing – you can add the drag items and drop targets into the Question Form View, but because I’ve set this up with triggers to show layers when drag items are dropped on the drop zone and haven’t used a Submit button, it works whether you do or not – but you definitely need to add the drop target in otherwise you get quite strange results – this is all I needed to add…

drag and drop interaction

What did I learn?

There are a lot of settings and functionality to take into consideration when you’re designing using Storyline. There’s often more than one way to achieve something. In this case, I learnt that by digging a little deeper I could actually achieve what I set out to in the beginning, rather than compromising and spending a lot of time creating triggers and variables that weren’t needed.

So here’s take 2 of this drag-and-drop interaction – click on the image below to compare the two designs.

storyline template drag and drop to reveal interaction
Click on the image to view the demo

Let me know what you think!


5 thoughts on “Designing Drag and Drop Interactions

  1. Hi Diane, I am interested in creating a similar interaction. Would you be willing to share some of the process for setting up the drag and drop reveal function you demonstrate here?

    1. Hi Lucila – I’m so sorry, I’ve only just seen your comment. Of course. I’ve updated the post with some information you may find helpful. It was actually very beneficial for me to go back to this because I didn’t have it exactly as I wanted it in the beginning, but now I do! Enjoy!

    1. Hi April – I’m not sharing this file – I would encourage you to have a go at developing something like this yourself using the information I’ve spent time detailing here. I very rarely download anyone else’s files because I think the learning that comes out of re-creating something you’ve seen and like is immeasurable.

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