Here are some e-learning slides from a project I created for my portfolio. This is how much of a nerd I am–when I am home on weekends, and in my spare time, I create “demo” e-learning courses to add to my portfolio. I created these slides in Articulate Storyline. Enjoy!
I’m always perusing the web looking for e-learning, web, and graphic designs that catch my eye. When I find something that I like, I do a quick Snippit and save the images to an “e-Learning Inspiration” folder that I keep. When I start a new project I can open up this folder and get tons of ideas. I thought I’d share some of what I consider to be the most eye-catching and fun designs from my “Inspiration” folder. I’m hoping these samples will provide you with ideas for layout, use of imagery and icons, colours, navigation, typography, etc. Below each image is a link to the original site. Hope you’re inspired!
E-learning designers often need to incorporate feedback windows into their course designs. Feedback windows are used in e-learning for several reasons, a few being: 1) to provide correct and incorrect feedback information, and 2) to share tips, hints, or additional information with the learners.
I’m sharing a few examples of feedback window “designs” that I created in Adobe Captivate 5.5. I started out with a basic slide with some information, and then I overlayed a rectangle shape with a 75% opacity over top of the entire slide to give the faded background effect.
I like using this “faded background” effect for feedback windows because it keeps a strong visual connection between the feedback and the content you’re providing the feedback for. Lately, I’ve also preferred using rounded rectangles instead of hard corners because I think it softens the overall look. One more thing: I like using “fun” fonts for headings, and simpler, sans-serif fonts for body text.
You don’t need to be a professional graphic designer to know that yellow text on a white background is a no-no, or that the bright neon orange background is not so easy on the eyes.
However, there are some more subtle design faux-pas that not everyone is consciously aware of. Here’s a look at a few of them, and some tips on how to avoid making those mistakes in your own e-learning designs.
White space (also known as negative space) is the unmarked or unused space on a slide/screen/layout. White space is a very important design element and it should be balanced with the objects on the slide. In other words, you should aim to have 50% white space on every slide. Claustrophobic slides happen when there isn’t enough white space and the objects on the slide are too close together, touching each other or touching the edges of the slides. Here’s an example of a claustrophobic slide:
The elements on the slide are crowded and too close. It just feels a bit too “tight”. The fix: add some white space! Here is the same slide, with all the same elements but with proper spacing around them.
Ahhh! Now there’s some breathing room. That’s what white space does. It frames all the elements and provides balance.
Why do you want your headlines to stand out? Because they introduce the slide and let the learners know what they are about to look at. Whispering headlines fail to attract attention, and are not easily distinguished from the text that they introduce. Here’s an example:
Notice that the headline doesn’t really stand out from the text that comes after it. Headlines should be significantly larger than the text that follows. Here is the same example, except this time the headline is bolded and a larger font size:
That helps a bit, but it’s still not really popping as much as it should. A few other techniques you can use to make your headlines stand out: make the text bolder, change the color or change the font. Here’s our same example once more, but this time the headline has a different font color and typeface.
See how much our headline pops now? Your eyes go right to the headline and right away you know what this slide is all about (or at least you would if you spoke Latin!).
When you’re using more than one type of font in your e-learning design choose contrasting fonts. In other words, avoid mixing fonts that have a similar look-and-feel (whether it be in the size or weight of the type). Here’s an e-learning slide that uses similar typefaces:
It feels a little heavy doesn’t it? The fonts used are too similar, too close to the same size, and too chunky and heavy. They compete for attention and don’t balance each other out. As we looked at in the previous example, your headline should be what grabs attention first. Here’s the same slide, but now I have switched one of the fonts to be a “lighter” style and I’ve adjusted the size of the text.
There’s much more of a balance between the two fonts in the second example.
These are just a few common design mistakes that you can avoid making in your designs. Some of these “mistakes” are very subtle, and might only be caught by a very detail-oriented eye. That being said, it’s those little details that can make a design that much more pleasing to look at. I’ll follow-up with another post about common design mistakes in a few weeks, so stay tuned!
I have combed the web and compiled several e-learning, instructional design and web design checklists to create this ultimate e-learning checklist. Not every item on the entire list will apply to every project, however I think that altogether it covers a broad range of items. If you think there’s something important that I have missed, please let me know and I will include it in the list; ideally, I’d like this checklist to cover as much ground as possible.
View The Ultimate eLearning Design and Development Checklist in .PDF format.
ASSESSMENTS & TESTS
VIDEOS & ANIMATION
AUDIO & NARRATION
Since you’ve made it all the way to the end of the checklist, maybe you should subscribe to my blog!
When developing an eLearning course, it is almost impossible to know how it’s going to look in every different resolution or monitor size. You may have some users who are still using a 1024 x 768 px screen resolution, while the rest will be using a variety of resolutions which are higher than 1024 x 768 . You want your eLearning to look great for the widest possible audience. You also want to avoid horizontal and vertical scrolling.
Web designers face the same dilemma every time they design a website. The solution? Design for the lowest common denominator. The following are the most recent screen resolution stats from W3Schools.
Designing for the lowest common denominator in this case means creating an eLearning course that is optimized for 1024 x 768 px.
Keep in mind that if your learners will be viewing the eLearning course inside a web browser, there will be their web page tabs, the URL bar, the title bar, maybe a favourites and a menu bar, the vertical scroll bar and maybe a footer menu. If your eLearning project is launched as an application or in it’s own window, there may still be a title bar. Also, the start menu in Windows takes up some height space.
Also important to take note of: within your eLearning course itself, your “skin” or “player” might take up additional width and/or height pixels. Let’s say you select a project size of 900 x 700px in Adobe Captivate. Afterwards, you decide to add a Table of Contents to your “player “. The minimum width for a TOC in Captivate is 250px. 900px + 250px and now you are at 1150px and no longer optimized for 1024 x 768 (unless you decide to overlay the Table of Contents, but still, you get the point.)
All this to say, there is no official “optimal size” for your eLearning course. There are a wide variety of variables that come into play. I do think it is safe to say that, at this point in time it is probably wise to optimize your training for 1024 x 768. Within a few years (if that), 1024 x 768 will be completely obsolete and we will be optimizing for 1280 x 1024. This is one of those joys (or pains?) of working with technology – things are constantly changing and evolving!
Just as a little aside, if you had any doubts about colour depth for your eLearning…. (also from W3Schools)
Do you have any tips of your own concerning width/height and project dimensions for eLearning? If so, please leave a comment. Also, since you’ve made it all the way to the end, perhaps you should subscribe!
Lately I’ve been feeling a “need” to be creative and unleash some of my artistic skills. I’ve been on a roll and producing tons of graphic designs for my blog over the last few days. I must say, it’s great to have this blog as an outlet for my energy and to share my creations. I really appreciate the support everyone’s been showing, as well as the positive comments and feedback.
When I had my latest burst of creativity, I created some brand-spanking new sample eLearning slides, using Adobe Captivate 5.5., for my portfolio.
A few comments about what went into the design:
- I like using rectangles with rounded corners. I feel like it “softens” the design, as opposed to really sharp and angular rectangle edges. I I use them a lot lately.
- I started out with the photo of the business woman with the headset, and then picked up the light blue background colour from her shirt using the eyedropper tool in Captivate. That’s how I picked my colour scheme.
- I love using photos with white backgrounds, or getting rid of the background altogether (as I did with the woman in this example). It looks clean and less cluttered than images with busy backgrounds.
- Here the duration is visible but I often remove the duration, which is visible at the bottom of the Table of Contents, using a widget. Very handy when you don’t want to display duration.
- The fonts are Dear Joe and Calibri.
- For the Incorrect and Correct slides, I copied ans pasted the question slide, then overlayed a grey rectangle with medium transparency. I added the “Correct” and “Incorrect” feedback on top. I like the faded-out background effect.
Anything you like or dislike about this course design? I love to hear feedback and ideas, so feel free to leave feedback and comments.