The first step when designing your e-learning course is to define who your audience is, and then choose a style that is suitable for them. Is the course aimed at a professional audience, such as the financial sector, or to a more informal one, like students? What is the theme of the course? For instance, is it a sensitive subject like ‘End of Life Care’ or a fun subject like ‘Using Social Media’?
Knowing who your course is aimed at and what the tone of voice should be, will help determine the overall look and feel of the course. You can then establish the types of images, typefaces and colours you should use in your e-learning module.
Now that you have determined who your target audience is, the next step is to choose the right imagery for them. Maybe consider creating a mood board? This can actually save time in the long run by determining from the start, a collection of graphical elements that will set the tone for your course. The mood board may not represent the final design exactly, but it can provide an indication of how the course may look and feel.
So what is the best way to create a digital mood board? There are some great sites that you can use such as Pinterest or Moodstream. Alternatively, you could print off your favourite images, colour schemes and typefaces to use as a reference.
Next, you need to decide whether to use photography, illustration or a mix of both for your course.
Photographs are particularly effective for backgrounds or to convey realism, personality and emotion. Illustrations are good for creating characters or situations that are difficult to find photographs for. They are also good for displaying information such as icons, graphs or charts.
Which you use will depend upon the tone of voice of the course and what type of information you want to present.
Successful e-learning design will draw the learner in and present content in a way that guides them through the course in a logical sequence. Each section of your course should tell a story.
Creating contrast between your articles gives the learner space to breath and time to absorb the information. There is no point cramming lots of components or text into one article. Break up pages into clear sections with different complimentary background images and colours. Also mixing different components together (e.g. text, graphic and interactive components) will enhance the user experience and assist in the learning process.
The effectiveness of the course will be strongly influenced by the choice of font, so chose one that complements your content.
A good typeface will engage the learner but not distract them. If in doubt use a nice clean, legible font family like Helvetica or Open Sans rather than a more gimmicky, stylised one.
For body text, in particular, pick a font that is easy to read and web safe. Limit the number of typefaces you use to no more than two. Any more than this will look unprofessional and can be confusing for the learner.
Whether you are designing a clean, corporate course or a fun, playful one, colour is going to play a major role in how the design is perceived by the audience.
Colour can attract attention, change our mood and it plays a major role in how we see or define things. That’s why it’s so important to get the colours right from the beginning. There are plenty of tools out there to help you with this, Learning Pool designers love to use online resources such as Kuler or Colour Lovers.
Contrast is one of the most essential considerations in your design. It is vital that the information is clear, easy to digest and that the most important elements are also the most visually dominant.
You should consider applying a lighter coloured text to darker backgrounds and using a bolder font weight on headings than on body text. Similarly, use simple background images or patterns to offset more detailed assets such as hotgraphics in the foreground.
This is giving hierarchy to the information that you want to bring to the learnerâs attention and is also more aesthetically pleasing.
Avoid having too many distracting design elements in your course. The design should assist in the learning process, not distract from it.
Also, try to limit the total number of images you use. It’s not necessary to have a graphic in every section, especially if you have a background image.
Overall, keep it simple, but donât forget your basics. Make sure every element has a reason to be in the design and keep the number of fonts, colours, shapes and ornamentations to a minimum. Simple is always best when it comes to graphic design. Reducing clutter means you’re more likely to get your message across!
Remember, the core objective of an e-learning module is to have content that is clearly visible and easily navigated. All design decisions should be based first and foremost on assisting in the learning process.
It may feel overwhelming when tasked with the responsibility of designing an e-learning module but it is important to enjoy the process of developing the perfect course.
Designing can be fun, as well as rewarding. Stay confident and inspired, and you may be surprised with what you can create. We’ve popped these tips on a handy infographic for you to refer back to when you need to.
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