The importance of design in eLearning
Design is incredibly important in eLearning. Clever use of design features can add depth and context to your courses, which can have a dramatic impact on their success. Cursim, our learning design and development division, demonstrated the importance of design in eLearning at our recent eLearning Community Demofest.
Demofest brought together eLearning professionals at the China Exchange, London, to show off their Articulate Storyline creations. Cursim’s Justine (instructional designer) and Tanzeel (graphic designer) showed seven eLearning courses, all of which demonstrated the importance of design in eLearning. Attendees of Demofest were really interested in the content Justine and Tanzeel displayed, so I thought I’d pick their brains over the key points of each course and share it with you today.
Using layers of graphics to give depth and movement to the design
Using a number of layered graphics gives you a unique freedom with your design. Layers enable you to animate slides and create consistency by using elements of your layered graphics throughout the course.
As you can see in this ‘code of conduct’ course, we add depth to the slide with layered graphics. Coupling this with animation provides movement and sets the course up for an engaging start.
Using animation to give dynamic impact
Corporate eLearning doesn’t have to be boring, although many big corporates fall into this trap. Using animation effects to give dynamic impact on a title slide and subtle animation effects on your menu, can make the world of difference to your eLearning course.
Using custom graphics and animations to give context to your content
Some subjects make sourcing imagery difficult, such as safety training, or in our example – dangerous goods training for the aviation industry. Although we used a corporate style, we invested time into creating custom graphics to give visual context to key points within the course, aiding learning for the end user.
Using a combination of graphic styles and stock imagery
Not all eLearning teams are fortunate enough to have an in-house design team to create custom graphics. However, there are many eLearning stock imagery websites, like eLearning Brothers, which are a great solution to this problem. eLearning Brothers have over 100,000 images, over 800 character sets and thousands of templates to help you create beautiful eLearning courses.
When using characters in your eLearning, you need to make sure you have a broad range of poses to suit the content you’re designing. Plus, you need to make sure you’ve got the right background settings to suit your needs. In our course we wanted a hospital backdrop, but decided to create this in an illustrative style, so that we could adapt the scenery to suit our needs. If you do not have the resources to create this in-house, a good trick is to find numerous stock assets from the same artist, to ensure the same style is used throughout.
Using custom graphics to give a unique identity to your learning content
It is unlikely that your eLearning course is a standalone resource. So it is important that you carry your graphic style through all of your learning material, for a consistent look and feel.
As you can see in our example, we used an animated graphic on our title slide, and carried this design through to a PDF for offline workers.
These PDF documents use the same graphic components, but in a redesigned format, ensuring familiarity of design and a clear nod to the wider learning strategy.
Using design elements to keep a template on brand
eLearning templates are a great way to kick start your eLearning development. They provide a clear starting point for slide layouts and help you define your fonts, colours and branding at the start.
Adding design elements into your template pack will ensure all of your eLearning courses are beautifully designed, whilst ensuring your focus is on the content during the development stage.
Using brand guidelines as a starting point for your visuals
Ensuring eLearning content is on brand is a top priority for many organisations. Most organisations will have some form of brand identity, so starting with these predefined visuals ensures your eLearning stays on brand.
For example. the pencil drawn visuals in this example is used across many other company communications. Echoing the existing company brand, we were able to add to the design with additional hand drawn illustrations, ensuring our learners felt at home when taking the course.
So there you have it, Justine and Tanzeel’s thoughts on how to use design features to make a huge impact to your eLearning courses. If you’d like to see the entire compilation of their favourite eLearning designs, you can find them here.