Graphic Design: Fundamental eLearning design elements

eLearning Design Elements recently performed an extensive review of eLearning designs ranging from email template providers, individual eLearning developer postings to various sharing sites, and more. What we have found is that the eLearning graphic designs continue to be fairly basic and lacking in artistic quality.  Many designs continue to be heavily text based with block paragraphs and little in the way of life or vivacity. Just reading a single page was enough to put an employee to sleep. Obviously, that’s not the way to create an engaging experience for eLearners or to move your organization forward. Following are a few ideas to help non professional graphic art designers to incorporate some visual variety into their courses. I hope the following information is of value. Keep in mind that you can always do your very best to make your course look as good as possible, then contact us for a quote to run your project through our graphic design department and upgrade the visuals for you. We can easily convert any existing course material into designs comparable to those we’ve posted in our eLearning examples area.

Custom eLearning Navigation Icons

You need a navigation system to help guide your employees through the training process. Consider using more than just a forward and back button by adding a full suite of navigation buttons to each page of training material, including a home button, back/forward, refresh, and even social media buttons to connect your learners with your brand online. Tie these buttons in with the design used on your actual website for better branding. It’s also worth noting that your navigation icons should be more than black and white cutouts – add some color to make your training material pop a little more.

Infographics Make Data Easier to Digest

Most people don’t get along well with numbers, particularly when they have little to do with anything tangible. This can make expressing complex data difficult but using infographics can help. Combine images with data (like statistics, percentages, sales projections and more) to create easy to digest information. Infographics are very versatile and can be used for almost any training needs, particularly for outlines, walk-throughs and to help tell a brand story.

Custom Illustrations Created by Talented Artists

If you’re sticking with stock photography for your eLearning needs, you’re doing both your employees and your business a disservice. While there’s nothing wrong with stock photographs, you can make a better impact using custom illustration. This is especially important if you want to help illustrate a complex process or lifecycle, to provide an overview of the steps included in a task, or to explain something that isn’t possible using pictures and would be too cumbersome using text.

Animation / Audio Sync

Animation can take many different forms in your eLearning materials. You can create animated videos to explain or illustrate elements of the lesson, or you can have animated characters that accompany employees through their training. Animation can offer a more laid-back feel, or create an intimate experience with employees, but it can also be fun, light-hearted and add much-needed color to an otherwise boring experience.

Custom Photography

Stock photographs can definitely be used in many areas of your training, but custom photography is a better option. This is particularly important if you’re trying to emphasize your brand during the training, or if you’re showcasing something proprietary (a business location, specific machinery or electronics, or even a business process).


A chaotic design (or a flat-out dull one) can make your eLearning materials less effective. Opt for a harmonious design between colors, fonts, images, animation, and navigation buttons. Everything should tie together into a cohesive, harmonious whole. It should be more than the mere sum of its parts, and should work toward improving the overall experience of eLearners. Avoid crowding pages with too much text or too many images, and cut down on clutter wherever possible. If necessary, hire a graphic designer to help layout and design these elements.

With the right design elements, you can create a more engaging eLearning experience for your employees that fosters better information retention and ties in with your company’s brand much more strongly.

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