This year I participated in the review of a course for an exemplary online course competition. It was a useful task to view and evaluate an online course from another institution. The course we evaluated followed most of the basic rules for a successful online course. It was clear and comprehensive. It included a variety of learning activities and provided resources to help students. It looked the same in all major browsers. Of course we couldn’t really tell how they did on important things like timely feedback and consistency (not making lots of changes throughout the course).
While the course was designed pretty much by the book, we felt something was missing. The design was decent, but the content was too much! Text could have been reformatted or edited so it would be more skimmable. My suggestions are to keep text to a minimum with lots of variety and white space and use a more informal writing style. To build community in an online class, it is important to let your personality show!