I find D2L to be an intuitive program that is simple to follow. The learning curve is not too steep; once the basics are understood, additional steps come easily. LMSs like D2L provide a skeleton or template with which to start thinking about how one might organize an online course. This might quell the anxiety introduced by such an enormous task, however I'm attracted to the creativity of building a course using a number of different tools that I find useful and/or relevant to the specific course I'm wanting to design. The nature of the course might dictate which system would best be suited to manage learning.
I've been investigating 'non-LMS' courses to see what other eLearning authors are creating. Two courses in particular stand out for me for both their design and content: #etmooc is a massive open online course in educational technology and media which came together due to the initiative of these conspirators. What I like about the design of the course is its aesthetic appeal with its clean layout. It's easy to navigate and find the information one needs. #etmooc is powered by WordPress.
I also admire this course by Alan Levine on Digital Storytelling. Levine's (non) learning management system seems to be his own design. The content is rich but I find the organization of information to be busy. I find it challenging to navigate the wealth of information and ideas. However, were I to take the course and delve into his organizational system I'm sure it would make sense. Above all, I appreciate the unique design qualities of both these courses.
After some thought, discussion and exploration I think that my eLearning authoring tool of choice would be DreamWeaver. Using this program I would have complete creative control and the ability to export my course using SCORM to whichever LMS my employer uses.
I wonder how my thinking will change as I actually try to do this.