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By PulseLearning | Dec 2015

10 eLearning Visual Design Tricks

Our Top 10 eLearning Visual Design Tricks

If you’re an eLearning designer who believe that visuals play a secondary role in learning materials, you’re making a huge mistake. Visual design affects the course’s usability and increases learning benefits for users. The right visual design can guide learner attention, provide a hierarchy for information, and help learners in knowledge retention.

Here are 10 eLearning visual design tricks to help you create learning materials that inspire learners to complete online courseware and expand their knowledge.

  1. Visual design should guide learner focus.

Let’s get one thing straight – visual design of your eLearning course isn’t the star of the show. It shouldn’t distract learners from what is really important – the topic of your learning materials. Great visual design won’t be noticed by learners, but it will affect their experience and make them feel more immersed or motivated. Naturally, all of it will happen without them even noticing. That’s why your design should be coherent, and all its parts seamlessly connected with each other, to provide a streamlined and smooth learning experience.

  1. Go minimal.

Minimalism in visual design is a trend you should apply to your eLearning materials. Every visual element needs to have a purpose – learners cannot have their brains occupied by deciphering the meaning of visuals that are in front of their eyes. Remember that every detail counts, so it’s not worth to overdo it. Color is a form of information and its overuse will decrease learning performance. Keep your focus on the essentials and avoid cluttering your space.

  1. Use blank spaces.

Another word about clutter – it will only create confusion and chaos in your materials. And that’s the last thing you want. Don’t try to fit too much content into one page – instead, make the most from white spaces and use them to divide learning materials into digestible bits. It’s best to keep text short so learners don’t succumb to information overload. By introducing many new ideas at once, you won’t be helping them in learning. Make use of bullet points to visually break the text, and put your takeaways in bold to attract and hold learners’ attention.

  1. Choose interactive imagery for essential details.

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself struggling to come up with accurate ways to emphasize details that are key to your subject matter. What comes in handy here are multimedia and interactive graphics. If your learners need to digest lots of important details without ever losing the sense of the larger context, you can simply enrich your learning materials with clickable hotspots on your visuals. This way, learners can decide to deepen their knowledge about a specific area without breaking the general learning narrative and getting distracted. Presenting information is a simple way will avoid cognitive overload and hold learners attention.

  1. Pick the right colors and fonts.

You may think that fonts and colors are meaningless details, but the truth is that they actually matter – a lot. Colors easily affect learner emotions and you can use color to direct their attention. Orange is a color of mental stimulation – red conveys a sense of urgency. Your most-important takeaways should be visually different from the main text – and color can be your strategy. How about fonts? Fonts that have an elegant shape communicate an atmosphere of sophistication and relaxation. Modern fonts, on the other hand, will be perfect if you’d like to convey a sense of professionalism. As you can see, these little details do count and build the atmosphere of your eLearning course.

  1. Use video format for practical lessons.

Observing how things are done by others is the best method of learning. Why not use it in the form of an instructive video to accompany your eLearning course? Your learners should be able to pause and move throughout the video to view and review it at their own pace. Sometimes, communicating actions can be difficult – videos are perfect for that. If you’d like to visualize abstract ideas, however, static images are a much better choice.

  1. Design to build a positive atmosphere.

People in a positive mood are more creative, flexible in their thinking and pay more attention to detail. In summary, happy people are great learners. Good visual design that oozes positivity is your best weapon to channel the sense of enthusiasm in your learning materials and stimulate the learning process. You can add small mood lifters, insider jokes or funny interaction design – for instance, when waiting for new learning materials to load, you can display a message, “Run, hamsters, run!” Anything that puts a smile on a learner’s face is worth it.

  1. Choose images carefully.

When choosing the images for your eLearning course, take a few moments to assess each image and ensure that they really reflect the brand image of the course and add to your subject. Are they relevant? Will they help learners in topic comprehension? Images should stir learners’ emotions and make them feel connected to the topic. This is essential for maintaining a high level of learner motivation. Your imagery should be engaging and thought provoking – images that are purely decorative will be ignored by learners and add nothing to the learning process.

  1. Use visual elements to attract attention.

Visuals are an excellent tool for grabbing learner attention. Our eyes are wired to notice images unconsciously and we process them in record time – this is something you should use to direct learner attention toward what matters. Using edges, colors, and movement, you can make information pop out – but don’t overuse them, or you risk confusing learners. By emphasizing certain points, you’ll make it easier for learners to quickly get the gist of your eLearning course.

  1. Follow a visual hierarchy.

Learners will pay most attention to the first element that appears on the page. Key ideas, questions, or concepts should be placed on the very top of the screen. You should use visual editing to make them stand out from the rest of the learning materials – borders are a useful technique here. You can expect learners to read from left to right, so place key bits of data on the left and balance it with other content on the right  – for instance, compelling images and other engaging visuals. It’s important to create a balanced look – this way, learners will be aware of the visual hierarchy and know where to look first.

Following these 10 eLearning visual design tricks of the trade, you can create an eLearning course that is engaging and motivates learners to broaden their horizons, delving into your intellectually stimulating world of imagery.


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