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How To Design An Online Course That Creates Results

I assume you want to design your online course so that it pleases your students and gives them results. In this post, I will go through some of the best practices when it comes to creating and designing your online course.

While it would make sense just to create your course and put it out there for sale, as so many are shouting to make B- work and to stay away from perfection.

But what would you respond when a student of yours, goes through your course and gets disappointed with the content? Would you tell them that it’s ok to do B- work? Would you say that perfection is overrated?

Probably not. 

What makes a happy student is that your course delivers on every aspect from the beginning to the end. While I’m not saying that your course should be perfect, I’m saying it should be your best quality.

You can always make the course better and more complete, and if that’s the case, do notify your student about it. State that it’s your mission to deliver the best course possible and that you are looking for feedback actively.

Next, I will show you how to design your course so that it creates results for you and your students.

The topic that you are teaching

Before we even get to design your course. We have to make sure that you are absolutely clear on what is the topic you are teaching.

Creating online courses is a lot of fun, but when it comes to the content, you can not go side rail and start teaching something that isn’t even related to the main topic.

For example, if you are teaching how to play guitar like a pro. You shouldn’t go and teach ‘How to dress like a guitarist.’ While it is about the topic, it’s not the reason why your customer bought the course in the first place.

Keep it very clear what you are teaching and also think through how the student goes through your course and what are the things one would expect to learn through your course.

Strategy tip

When creating a course, make sure you are solving a big problem and that your course will take your student from point A to point B as fast as possible. While making sure that the thing you are teaching gets through and is understood.

Welcoming message

Welcoming message is the very first thing that a student should face when he/she starts your online course. You want to make the student feel good about the purchase, so do give a proper welcoming to your students.

Welcoming message should include things like:

  • Congratulating for the purchase
    • Show them how pleased you are for the purchase and also thank them for trusting you.
  • Here’s what to do next
    • Show them the course modules and lessons and how it works.
  • Here’s how to get help
    • Give students clear directions on how and when they should ask for help.
  • How to join the community and why
    • Show how to join your community and also how to engage with others. Also, emphasize the reason why one should do so.

It’s important that you make your students feel like they made the right decision by purchasing your course. 

The pricier the course, the bigger emphasis should be on this part.

You can create a welcoming video (the best option), or if you feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, you can create a welcoming message. 

The main thing is that you have to have one. 

Initial survey (optional)

I assume that you want to build the best possible course of your topic. If you are in your online course business for a fast cash grab, you can skip this part altogether.

This part is optional in the sense that you might have figured everything you need to figure about your customers. However, it’s not a bad idea to create a small survey and see who bought your course.

You will collect valuable data on what your customers are having trouble with and what made them purchase your course. You might think you know all the reasons one has, but you might be surprised to find out why people bought your course in the end.

Some questions you could ask:

  • What made you purchase the course?
  • What is your #1 goal when it comes to online courses?
  • What is your #1 obstacle that prevents you from achieving that goal?
  • What is the #1 thing you want to learn about online courses?
  • What is your #1 fear you have when it comes to online course business?
  • Was there any reason you ALMOST DID NOT buy the course?

The answers give you highly valuable insight into what sort of struggles and obstacles your customers have. With this information, you can further develop your course to something that truly creates a difference in their life. 

If you feel uncomfortable asking these questions before they even began the course, you can also add these to the end of your course if you feel like it. 

The reason why I would ask these at the beginning is that they are still fresh with their pain, and they are excited to start the course.

Course outline

Before you start creating your course, plan your course outline. What your course will be about. What is the end goal, and what kind of transformation you are aiming to give for the student?

The outline should be created in a logical order. What is the very first thing the student needs to learn? What is essential to know at the beginning to make sure success is guaranteed.

The outline has only the headlines as modules and sub-headlines as lessons. The outline is a rough draft of the content that you will be teaching and creating. 

The outline should only have the main points and should not include a word-for-word presentation. You can outline your course, for example, to Google docs or MS Word. I have outlined my courses with MS Word and have found it to be sufficient. 

The outline is a rough draft and only serves as a guideline for your course creation. Its main point is to make your creation process more straightforward and also show you the “redline” of your course.

H4 My course template:

Module 1.

  • Lesson no. 1
  • Lesson no. 2
  • Lesson no. n

Module 2.

  • Lesson no. 1
  • Lesson no. 2
  • Lesson no. n

Module n.

  • Lesson no. 1
  • Lesson no. 2
  • Lesson no. n

H4 And an example:

As you can see from the above picture, the course is divided into modules. Inside each module, there are as many lessons as needed to cover the topic of the module.

There are no set rules of how many lessons a module should or shouldn’t have. The important thing is that you cover it in detail, and you cover it in a way that gives results to your students.


Modules are the main topic you cover in your course. Modules are also the pain points of your customers. Remember, those course buyers have struggles, obstacles, and problems they want to solve. If your course does not cover those pain points, why should one buy your course?

Related: Who Buys Online Courses

Your modules should be named as clearly as possible while making the prospect excited about your course and also to make them curious about what the module has inside.

Modules are major topics that are divided into smaller lessons. Modules themselves are not lessons, and modules are not the thing you teach. The module is the thing that the student will understand after going through your lessons.

The module is an umbrella for lessons, and your course is an umbrella for modules. So there’s a clear hierarchy on how online courses are structured.


Lessons are the smallest pieces your course will have. Lessons teach one specific area and subject. 

Here’s an example:

So in the picture above, you can see four different lessons that are all highly related to the topic I’m teaching. In this case, it’s about sales, and the lessons are named so that they make sense to the topic of the module.

For example, the lesson ‘Anatomy Of Pricing’ teaches exactly what the headline says. How pricing works and what people think about price and the psychology behind price and value, especially perceived value.

So when you are creating lessons, think about the subject and what you must include in the lesson but also what you shouldn’t include. Remember that courses are about giving the best information as in condensed form as possible. 

If your lessons are two hours long, that’s ok. If it takes two full hours to teach the subject, then that’s what needs to be done.

While the general recommendation is that you should keep your lessons under 10 minutes or so, you can forget that recommendation and focus on delivering the best value for the money possible.

People buy results, and if they get results after two hours, then that’s good. If they get results in under 10 minutes, then that’s good too.

Results are what matters in the end, not the time spent.


We have talked about this already a bit but emphasize this more. You should have a clear outcome that the course buyer will receive after taking your course. What is the one thing your student will learn, or what is this transformation your course will provide?

What pain point you are going to solve, and what outcome will you promise to your student.

Remember that while they are your customers, they are first and foremost students; Students with real-life problems and struggles.

People are constantly looking to get out of something or to accomplish something, whether it’s getting out of their 9-5 job, losing weight, or finding a loving relationship. 

There are outcomes that people are looking for. If your course is one that has a promise of better tomorrow, make sure you deliver on the promise. 

Every so often, we see online courses that sell well because of insanely good marketing and salesmanship. However, at the end of the funnel, we have sad students with disappointed faces. 

Make sure that the promise you make for your students, you will also keep it. 

With kept promises, you create brand loyalty, and that goes a long way in business.


And what a better way to continue to form the last point, than getting that essential feedback. Feedback is what separates your course from the mass.

By collecting feedback and improving your course for the better with every student, you are making sure you have the best course out there. You will also make sure that you have all aspects covered. 

Even though you think you have covered everything, there is to cover. Students are always individuals that have individual needs and wants. 


With those wants unsatisfied, there come questions. And with unanswered questions, becomes disappointment and complains, maybe even refunds.

So make sure you collect your feedback always and as long as needed until your course receives that perfect stamp from you. While many of us online course creators are perfectionists. We also do know that there are limits to it. 

Feedback gives you insight on how the students are receiving your course and have they learned the subject as you intended. Did they receive the outcome that you promised?

With every design process, there has to be feedback element in place, how else will you ever know did your students like your course or not.

Worksheets (optional)

I would say these are optional but can make a nice bonus for the course. You can give your students worksheets to fill out and engage with. Not everyone will fill worksheets as not everyone sees the need for it.

I’m one of those persons who doesn’t like to fill worksheets. It’s just not my way of learning and doing. 

There are always people who like to printout worksheets and fill them physically, so it’s not a bad idea to include these to your course. 

For example, every lesson could have a worksheet attached at the end of the lesson. The worksheet could have major topics and teachings from the lesson. Giving the student a way to fill out the questions you have given.

Surveys (optional)

I like to use surveys when I’m gathering that feedback. Surveys can be as simple as star-rating or complex as asking detailed questions about the lesson, module, or about the course as a whole.

I’ve placed a survey after every module to ask for feedback on whether the lessons and the module were good or not. This gives you insight into whether you nailed the lessons or not.

Quizzes, exam, and assignments (optional)

If you want to test whether the student learned what you taught or if you want to give a certificate at the end of the course. You can do so by having a small exam or assignment at the end of each module or at the end of the course.

A simple quiz could work after each lesson, but it depends on what kind, of course, you would like to create. We all remember that exams at school weren’t too hot and popular. So why torture your students in your online course with this stuff?

But as I said before, it’s up to you what kind of training program you want to develop and what kind fo end result you are promising.

If you want to be absolutely sure people will get results, then it could make sense to have a test or an exam at the end of the course. You are kind of making sure people have actually listened and paid attention to your content throughout the course.

A final note

This is my way of thinking when it comes to designing your online course. This online course layout is pretty much the one I use, and it’s also the one that guarantees everything is covered.

The design process should always start with the student. What is the one thing your student needs, and how can you deliver the best possible outcome for your student with as less pain as possible. 

What is true is that everything you want to achieve in life requires hard work. Goals require focus, action, and grit. With every course you create, the outcome should be about removing a pain point.

Your students are looking for a shortcut from point A to point B. While I can say from experience that no one single course will bring the exact results you are looking for — not a single one. You are required to do the work, and that should be clarified to every student that enrolls in your course.

You’ve done the work before, and now it’s your students’ time to do the same work while avoiding the obvious pitfalls that you had to experience. The shortcut comes from the fact of not making the same mistakes that you did.

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.