Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Create eLearning With out A Graphic Designer

Best practices for newbies to graphic design

Creating engaging and effective eLearning courses is not easy. We as instructional designers need to consider the content, the learning experience, the user experience, the graphics and multimedia, the gamification and the LMS administration, to name a few factors. As a result, sometimes the appearance of eLearning courses can be pushed aside or not as important as it should. Let’s start with why the look and feel of your eLearning courses matters.

Learners are different

First things first, learning objectives are key. As we know, people learn in different ways; Perhaps you are a visual learner, a social learner, or a kinesthetic learner. E-learning courses should touch all of these common learning styles to really maximize the impact of the training. For visual learners, having a clean and impactful appearance makes learning and engagement easier, maybe even more so than the content itself.

Branding matters

Whether you are an instructional designer in an agency or a company, branding is important. When creating corporate training as part of an L&D team, aligning your eLearning appearance with the corporate brand is vital for consistency, employer branding and to really increase the relevance of your bespoke internal training. Remember, one of the main complaints people make about standard e-learning courses is that they are not relevant to their job or company. Don’t fall into this trap, align your appearance with your company’s website, your employee’s website or the standard corporate image of your company. Employer branding is always important. Your eLearning courses should match the tone, message, culture, and image of your company.

You only get a first impression

Did you know that within the first seven seconds after opening it, a learner will judge whether or not an eLearning course is relevant and interesting for them? That’s right, you have about seven seconds to pull them in. That’s why it’s important to feel right, especially when it comes to onboarding courses or compliance training, which are often the first thing new starts do in your company. Put yourself in the shoes of your new beginnings. Does the look and feel of your onboarding e-learning course reflect the company’s branding and messaging? If not, reconsider.

User experience matters

Not only is a strong and consistent appearance pleasing to the eye, but it also helps many learners navigate the course. Color-coded icons, set colors for action buttons, and button placement work together to help learners understand how the course is organized, the different activities, and can even help learners retain information. As if that weren’t reason enough, a clear and well thought-out appearance saves the instructional designer time in creating in the long term. Invest the time in the beginning.

Instructional designers, especially in businesses, often have to wear many hats: video artists, voice actors, writers, and even graphic designers. But you don’t need to panic. There are many tips and tricks you can use to create a sleek and professional look without much experience in graphic design.

How to create great eLearning courses without a graphic designer

How can you improve your eLearning look and feel without the help of a professional graphic designer? Start by applying these 5 basic principles.

1. Consistency is key

Call-to-action and secondary buttons, page types, icons, logos, avatars, copies, etc. are designed to help learners not to distract or confuse them as they progress through the course. Don’t use a new slide format for each section of your workout, it will look disjointed. Learners should be able to easily figure out what to do on each slide in your course. Constantly changing your slide format creates confusion. Remember, similar shapes and compositions give a more cohesive feel. The same rule applies to your pictures and icons. Try not to mix different picture styles in your courses. This looks incohesive and can be a bit distracting. For example, when creating flashcards, avoid mixing illustrations with stock photos. The same rule applies to symbols. Keep them consistent in style and size.

If you are concerned about repeating your courses, keep in mind that changing your interactions and using storytelling in your courses is much more effective at adding variety than using lots of different colors, styles, or formats.

2. Negative space

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your appearance is overcrowding your slides. A white or negative room is essential for a clean course. Typically, up to 50% of the negative space is a winner. However, always take into account symmetry and balance and distribute the negative space. Leave room to breathe between the contents. Don’t leave large gaps at the bottom or sides of your page; there should be an equal amount of negative space across the page. An easy way to avoid overcrowding is to limit yourself to one idea per slide.

3. Decrease the color

When it comes to your color palette, less is more. Go for muted colors and lighter colors for accents like bullets, hotspot icons, headings, etc. Having a muted background with pops of color will keep the learner’s gaze focused on the most important parts of the slide like navigation buttons and key information or pictures.

4. Use your branded fonts the way your company uses them

Don’t be crazy about scriptures. Stick to a font or two (one for headings and one for body text) and try to use them the same way they are used on your company website, social media, or employee career pages, etc. Keep the font colors consistent and make sure they are legible on the screen. Typically, try adding the size and weight of your fonts to create contrast and show learners where to look. For example, use larger, darker font colors for your header and smaller, muted colors for the main copy to make your text look professional and legible. Always do some tests to make sure the fonts appear well on the background.

5. Templates are your friend

Templates can help keep your courses consistent and coherent. Create some templates that you can mix and match to speed up the creation process and keep your look and feel consistent. Creating different types of pages to cover the most popular types of content gives you more time to focus on turning that content into an amazing eLearning course. Taking some time to think about how to use each type of page will also ensure that you’re maximizing the content. For example, two column pages are great for comparing products or DOs and DON’Ts sections, while a timeline page is a great way to showcase a process or your brand history.

The central theses

If you have been tasked with creating the graphics and appearance of your eLearning courses, don’t panic. By learning some basic graphic design principles and keeping your appearance simple and low-key, you can create the impression of a professionally designed course without the need for a graphic designer. Pick and stick to a style for your icons and images, align your color palette with your company branding and keep it consistent.

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