Five Graphic Design Best Practices for Your E-learning Course

A critical part of the e-learning experience is learners’ interaction with the screen. How your learners perceive the instructional content is dependent on the design elements. A dull or chaotic graphical layout is likely to leave learners bored or confused, respectively. If you want to create e-learning courses that are immersive and engaging for your learners, you should have a basic understanding of how to use font, colour, and visuals to your advantage.

Here are five graphic design best practices that every e-learning professional needs to know.

1. Typography

Good typography helps to create visual hierarchy, enhances the readability of course content, encourages information processing, and even engages readers’ emotions. The font style, colour, size and the spacing makes a lot of difference in your design. The fonts you use should emphasise the text and highlight the most important ideas and concepts. Using creative fonts can bring the subject matter to life and increase learner comprehension, but only if it is clearly legible and used in moderation. Don’t use more than two fonts – including a wide range of fonts will only clutter the design, rather than add to its visual appeal. Use fonts that work well on both PC devices and mobile devices. Ensure that the font size you are choosing is not too large or too small – be certain you have legibility in mind when choosing font sizes. Here is a great article on further understanding Typography hierarchy.

2. Colour

Choosing the right colour mix is an essential part of your e-learning graphic design – you should ensure that the chosen colour enhances and clarifies the entire look and feel. Colour has the ability to evoke certain emotions and make the reader feel more connected to the subject matter. Use colour with caution in order to achieve the desired effect. For example, blue is a more relaxing colour than red, so use blue to put your learners at ease while they navigate your course. Include no more than two or three colours in your design: this provides enough variation without your design looking chaotic or becoming distracting. To enhance readability, opt for colours with high contrast for your typography. If you are using coloured fonts, try to stick with the same shade for the body text all throughout your e-learning course. Understanding colour theory is critical for the objective of your designs.

3. White space

Not every square millimetre of a page needs to be filled with graphics, text, and buttons. In fact, leaving some white space can actually prevent cognitive overload and improve the visual appeal of your e-learning course. Your visual message becomes more impactful when your screen is less cluttered. When you leave empty space around the text and graphic elements on the page, your learners’ eyes will automatically drift to the information they need to retain. Think of the white space as a frame that draws attention to the key pieces of knowledge that need to absorbed. Here is a great article on the importance of white space in design.

4. Layout

Layout is how you visually convey the content or information you want to share with learners. Don’t assume that your learners automatically understand the text and graphics you place on the screen. Try and create relationships that help guide understanding. Layout design has a direct impact on learners’ knowledge comprehension and retention. Learners’ eyes naturally scan the page from top to bottom and left to right. As such, you should place the most important information near the top and the right-hand side of the screen. Ensure that you position similar objects next to or near each other to convey a relationship. An important piece of information should never be hidden on the page, such as inside a clickable link or in the middle of an image, it should always be visible. Be certain that the layout and screen are easy to scan as this will help to keep your learners focused. Read more on how layout is so important to designers.

5. Visuals

Any design is incomplete without graphical elements. Visuals such as images, icons, and graphics boost learners’ engagement and make the e-learning course more dynamic and interesting. Even while going through the most boring course or content, some eye-catching graphics can change the mood of the learners and provide them with a different perspective. If it’s on the screen, it must add value and not detract from your course. Always use high-quality images that relate directly to your course – images that aren’t clear or aren’t relevant will only serve to confuse your learners as they don’t connect to learning objectives. It’s not necessary to add decorative images to your course in the name of filling spaces if they don’t add value to your course. Remember, when it comes to designing an e-learning course, simplicity and readability are key. Here is some further reading into the visual design best practices.


Written by Rob Ewart

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