Visual Design Tips for eLearning

I’ve always believed (and strongly stated) that good eLearning design is so much more than just good instructional design. Developing an engaging and effective eLearning course requires good visual design. Although using solid instructional design techniques should always be a priority, if your eLearning course isn’t visually engaging, your learners might assume you’re content is equally boring.

When you’re new to eLearning, it’s easy to ignore the visual design aspects of course development. When I first started in eLearning, I put all my efforts into instructional design. Although I wanted my courses to look better, I really only worried about visual design if I had the extra time at the end of a project. If that sounds familiar, you might want to spend some extra time fine-tuning the way your courses look and feel.

To help you get started, here are my favorite visual design tips for eLearning, along with several other resources to help with your visual and graphic design skills.

Pair the Right Fonts

The quickest and easiest method for improving the visual design of your eLearning course is carefully selecting and pairing the right fonts. Designing with fonts and typography happens to be something that most people, even those new to eLearning, are most comfortable with.

visual design tips for eLearning tim slade

When used properly and consistently, fonts can add character to your eLearning course and create a sense of hierarchy in your content. Here are some of my favorite visual design tips for eLearning, specifically related to using fonts:

Create a Beautiful Color Scheme

After selecting and pairing the right fonts, the second easiest method for improving the visual design of your eLearning course, is to create and use a beautiful color scheme. Just like fonts, colors can help create a sense of emotion and add character to your eLearning slides.

visual design tips for eLearning tim slade

Luckily, the process of creating a well-balanced and beautiful color scheme is easier than ever! There are countless tools available that can help you create a color scheme for free. Here are some of my favorite visual design tips for eLearning, specifically related to creating color schemes:

Select High-Quality Images

Images are perhaps the most common type of multimedia used in eLearning. Images can be used to serve many different purposes in eLearning; they can help tell a story, explain a technical process, or simply enhance your message. Because images have such a strong ability to engage your learners, it’s important to select the right images for your eLearning course.

visual design tips for eLearning tim slade

Although it’s easy to select generic or cheesy stock photos, you want to take your time and select high-quality and unique photos that enhance your message, rather than detract from it. Here are some of my favorite visual design tips for eLearning, specifically related to selecting and using images:

Use Animations with Intention

Using animations in eLearning is a great way to bring your content to life and communicate your ideas. Although animations can be a powerful tool for visual design, too often, they’re used as a meaningless design embellishment.

visual design tips for eLearning tim slade

When used properly, animations have the power to bring additional meaning to your eLearning content. When paired with audio narration and beautiful graphics and images, animations can help you reduce the amount of onscreen text and help you tell a story. Here are some of my favorite visual design tips for eLearning, specifically related to using animations:

Visually Communicate Your Ideas

eLearning is an amazing tool for visual communications. Although it’s easy to fill your eLearning slides with bullet points, eLearning is most effective when you communicate your ideas with meaningful visuals and graphics.

visual design tips for eLearning tim slade

Carefully selecting a collection of images to represent an idea, creating a series of animations to explain a process, or designing a diagram to show the relationship between different concepts are all examples of visual communications. Here are some of my favorite visual design tips for eLearning, specifically related to visual communications:

What other visual design tips for eLearning can you share? Share them by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade

Hi, I’m Tim Slade, and I’m a speaker, author, and award-winning eLearning designer. I’ve spent nearly a decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content. I’ve been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for my creative and innovative design aesthetics. I also speak regularly at national eLearning conferences, and I’m a recognized Articulate Super Hero and co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

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