If we were to choose one single takeaway for you to remember from this article, it would be the following: Design can make or break an online learning experience. Unfortunately, visual design is often an afterthought in online courses, which results in ineffective learning experiences and poorly used training budget.
Good design in online training materials is extremely important. The right design will help you engage the learner and convey the right information. Moreover, your learners’ experience — including its perceived value and overall usability — will depend on it. Good design:
- helps learners understand logical steps and processes
- promotes audience engagement
- increases retention
- helps to convey the right information correctly
- improves completion rates
- assigns credibility to the learning experience
We already know that video is an excellent learning format and why instructional design is so important for online training: following instructional design principles and its methodical steps will help you to identify the strategic purpose of your training aspirations before you jump straight into design.
Before we share a few design tips, let us list all the design elements that will have an impact on your training content. Elements such as colours, shapes, lines, textures, space and forms all play a part in the overall design product. When creating training resources, eLearning professionals will advise you to keep it simple and follow the traditional design rules: symmetry, balance and cleanliness are preferred to overcrowded pages and disruptive colour-schemes.
The key points to focus on when working on the design of your online courses
Always keep your training goals and audience in mind
If you use your goals, training purpose and audience as guiding principles, decisions about design will be easier to make, and more appropriate to each training project
Choose appropriate visuals
Visuals are important aids to learning: different studies by educational researchers have found that 83% of human learning occurs visually. By keeping their eyes busy, you keep your learners’ brain active and their attention engaged. Always keep in mind that all visuals should be simple and designed for a minimum amount of cognitive effort. You can achieve this by avoiding overly complex imagery. Also, the colours and patterns you choose should be coherent with your brand.
Think about sizes and proportions
When it comes to learning content, everything matters: things such as font size and type, screen placement, content display in relation to other elements… Keep in mind that your audience will watch the video in different devices, so you have to guarantee legibility across them all.
Define a colour and font palette wisely (including white spaces)
The colours and patterns you choose should be a conduit to your message, clarifying complex concepts and processes, while also helping your leaners retain information. Remember that white space is your friend: it can focus someone’s attention and bring more importance to certain elements.
For the learning experience to be smooth, you must respect the same visual scheme across slides and frames.
Your training platform design
It’s important to keep in mind that even the design of the training platform can determine the effectiveness of your training. The user experience offered by the platform should be smooth and enjoyable. Technology should never be a barrier to learning. An easy to use training platform will help your learners feel empowered and in control, mastering its functionalities effortlessly.
Keep UX simple
Limit distractions and avoid unnecessary elements. Avoid cluttered interfaces and focus on simplifying the overall experience.
Keep it obvious
Your audience shouldn’t have to make an effort to understand how the platform works: their experience should be as easy (and enjoyable) as possible.
In short, design matters and it is definitely not a black or white-only subject. Design is an ever-evolving discipline and new studies and trends come up every year. It is always a good idea to ask for the help of an experienced team that includes both designers and instructional designers when developing learning content.
You may also find interesting:
How to create a video training course (summary poster)
5 ways to overcome a small budget for video training (article)
Free tools for low-cost professional looking video production (article)
Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help you set up or improve your training programme?