Better visual design in eLearning
Good visual design compels our learners to go deeper and learn more, and it reassures them the course is valuable and worth their time. So, your course’s visual design is a powerful tool for setting the tone, communicating key concepts, and engaging your learners. I’d even say it’s critical to your course’s success. Because regardless of how thorough and accurate your content, learners won’t want to experience it if it looks bad. To apply visual design effectively in eLearning, it’s important to understand the elements and principles of design.
Whether you are designing a clean, corporate course or a fun, playful one, colour is going to play a major role in how your course is perceived by your learners.
Colour can attract attention, change our mood and it plays a major role in how we see or define things. For example, the colours in the red spectrum evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and love to feelings of anger and hostility. In contrast, colours on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colours and are often described as calm.
Contrasting colours can be used to effectively guide your learners through a slide and help them focus on the most important content. The most common mistake that course designers make is using too many colours at once. Try and limit your colour choice to a maximum of 2-3 colours. The goal should be to emphasise the elements you wish to draw the learner’s attention to. As you can see below, in the first and second image there is no clear distinction among the objects as to what is important and what the learner should focus on. The third image uses high contrasting colours to steer the learner’s attention towards the content in the red box.
Text is one of the primary ways in which we communicate information in eLearning. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that good typography helps to create visual hierarchy and enhances the readability of the course content. Your eLearning course will consist of two most basic types of text: headings and body text. The two elements of typography that you must focus on for better visual design in an eLearning course are hierarchy and legibility.
Legibility: This is a measure of how easy it is to distinguish one letter from another in a particular typeface. Font size, shape and contrast all impact legibility and how a learner interacts with the content. As you can see in the example below, it may be fun to use the crazy font you downloaded but you always need to remember the importance of creating an effective learning experience.
Hierarchy: Creating hierarchy in your text allows the learners to scan your course slides and determine what’s important. You can achieve this by adding space between your headings and paragraphs, this creates white space and makes text easier to read. As you can see in the image below, it is much easier to scan the text on the right compared to the text on the left.
When choosing images for your eLearning course, you should give a lot of thought and consideration during the image selection process. Ask yourself:
- Is the image relevant to the course topic?
- Does it reflect the brand image?
- Will it help learners get one step closer to their learning objectives?
As imagery can be far more powerful than written text, the images that you choose should be thought provoking and engaging for learners. They should make learners feel connected to the subject matter. Nowadays, there are many modern high-quality stock images available and some are free-to-use! Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay are just a few of the many websites that offer free stock images.
Clutter will only create confusion and chaos. A common mistake many course developers will make is to fill all the available space with text and graphics. This is where you need to remember that white space is your friend. White space can be defined as the empty, or negative space on your course slide. When used properly, white space can boost interaction and focus. Research also shows that white space can improve comprehension by as much as 20%. It helps guide the learners to important information in your eLearning course. As you can see in the images below, in the first image you have no idea what to focus on as the text and images are all cramped together. In the second image, the content is broken up and placed with ample white space around the heading, text and image, making it easier to scan and read the content.
So, there you have it, a four-point checklist of visual design tips that you should consider for better visual design in eLearning. If you would like to have a peek at some more tips, why not check out this blog from Omniplex’s Lead Visual Designer, Tanzeel Ayub.