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!
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 compiled several e-learning, instructional design, and web design checklists to create the ultimate e-learning design and development checklist. This list is thorough and covers a broad range of items. Keep in mind not every item will apply to every project.
ASSESSMENTS & TESTS
VIDEOS & ANIMATION
AUDIO & NARRATION
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So you have developed the perfect eLearning course, the Learning Management System (LMS) is up and running… the only thing missing: your course certificate. Depending on the subject matter of your training, individuals might want or need documentation that proves that they have taken your course.
Designing and developing a certificate can sometimes be a task that falls on the to do list of eLearning developers and Instructional Designers. Other people who might be involved in the task of designing and developing a course certificate: management, a graphic designer, someone from the IT department.
Certain eLearning authoring tools offer built-in certificate features. These usually come with a wizard that guides you through an easy set up process. In other cases, the certificate is retrieved through the LMS system. The assistance of a web developer may be required in such instances. For example, if you are using a certificate that is a dynamic PDF which automatically inserts the learner’s name into the file by accessing information stored in the LMS.
Since your learners are going to have the certificate framed and hanging over their desks, you might as well try to make it look as nice as possible! I have compiled a gallery of certificate designs to inspire you next time you need to create one.
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PowerPoint. Whether you love it or hate it, we’ve all had to use it before.
Personally, I think it’s a great tool. It’s easy to use and I love starting with a blank slide and creating my own masterpiece. You can even link slides and shapes and make really cool branched scenarios. Creating visually appealing PowerPoint presentations is definitely possible.
So, if you need to create a PowerPoint presentation and you’ve decided you want it to be great, check out the 40 tips below and you will be well on your way!
- Decide on your goal – what is it this presentation is going to achieve?
- Select a structure for your presentation
- Divide your content into small sections
- Include an introduction, content and a summary/ending
- Add an agenda or outline slide, to let everyone know what to expect
- End your presentation with a question slide
- Use a template or master slides
- Check out Note & Point for tons of PowerPoint design inspiration
- Choose a colour theme of 2 (maximum 3) complimentary colours and stick to it
- Design a presentation that is basic, simple and clear
- Select contrasting colours that go well together
- Don’t overdo the corporate branding
- Avoid excessive animations and slide transitions, text transition
- Leave some white space on your slides – don’t clutter
- Write your script out in advance
- Check (and double-check) your spelling and grammar
- Re-order and re-organize your content sequentially
- Use short sentences, not long paragraphs
- Don’t use more than 4-6 bullets per slide
- Incorporate only key phrases and essential information
- Bring bullets or points on the slide one at a time
- Don’t overload the screen with too much information at once
- Align text either left or right (centered text is harder to read)
- Use the same size font on every slide
- Stick to a maximum of two fonts throughout the entire presentation
- Do not use more than one decorative font (usually for titles – not body text)
- Avoid overly fancy fonts that are difficult to read
- Try to avoid using serif fonts
- Use a sans-serif font for body text
- Choose a font colour that contrasts strongly against background (black text on white background = good, yellow text on light blue background = bad)
- Use a font size larger enough that everyone in your audience can read easily
- Don’t overload slides with logos and decorative bars
- Use pie charts and create graphics for your data to convey important information
- Use well-selected photos or graphics that convey the message appropriately
- Only incorporate images that add value
- Choose either photos or graphics and stick with one or the other throughout
- Include multimedia (video clips, animated movies)
- Use photos that have good quality resolution
- Resize and compress your photos before adding to the presentation
- Choose graphics, clipart and photos that are consistent in style
- Use animations sparingly, only to draw attention or to focus on something important
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