The look and feel of your eLearning materials has an impact on training effectiveness. The combination of colors, font types, and images affect the way your learners go through your content and eventually the lessons. Your goal is to make your content more exciting, easier to understand, and more interesting to read. A good combination of the elements mentioned above can help you achieve your training goals. Conversely, a bad combination could make your learners bored, disinterested, and perhaps even sleepy. Needless to say, this will result in bad performance and ineffective learning.
Here are some important considerations when using color theory, typography, and images in your eLearning course design:
1. Keep it clean and simple.
This does not mean that your design should be stark and boring. You can use bold colors like reds and oranges, and your design will still be clean and simple. Avoid the clutter and pay attention to readability and ease of navigation. Use color combinations that complement each other so that they are easy on the eyes. You can also use color to highlight certain types of information in your content. For instance, you can have lesson snippets or takeaways in bullet points in a reverse block using the darkest shade of either the main background color or a complementary color. If you have a lot of text in your learning materials, use fonts that are easy to read and understand. Reserve the cursive and fancy fonts for purposes other than eLearning. San serif fonts in 14pt or 16pt are usually the preferred typeface in eLearning materials. Keep your columns at about 70 characters in width as this allows for ease of reading.
2. Use the right images.
You do not need to bombard your learners with images all the time. The images are supposed to reinforce and support your content. As such, you have to limit your images to only those that are relevant to your content and helpful to your learners. Pay attention to the subject, colors, size, and placement of your images. They should not distract your learners from your content. Be consistent in the kind of images you include in your eLearning design. It is not only the physical size of your images that you have to consider, you should also think about their file size as it has an impact on the way your pages load. Among the most common file types used in eLearning modules are: jpg or jpeg (Joint Photographers’ Expert Group), .png (Portable Network Graphics), .bmp (Bitmap), .tiff (Tagged Image File Format), and .gif (Graphics Interchange Format).
- jpg or jpeg – these images can be saved in small files without affecting their quality. They retain crisp and sharp quality and color range. With this image file type, you can have high quality images on your pages while keeping your file size within reasonable levels.
- png – these images are also small in size but are of high quality nonetheless. Use png images if you need to apply transparency in your design, such as when you need to “die-cut” an image to be superimposed over another image.
- bmp – this image file type is a rasterized file format which means that it is made up of pixels. Since bmp images cannot be compressed, you will end up with larger file sizes.
- tiff – this image file type is similar to both the png and bmp. This is also a lossless file type so it can be compressed and uncompressed without sacrificing image quality.
- gif – these images are usually the preferred format for animations. The downside to these images, however, is that they are of low resolution, and are only in 256-color formats. Gif files are normally used for charts and graphs.
3. Check for compatibility and interoperability.
Your design should be versatile enough to appear as you intended across browsers and device types. You can ensure this when you make your content SCORM compliant. Learners should see the same elements in the same quality regardless if they are using a laptop, tablet, or a desktop computer. There are templates online for module designs that you can use across devices. Many LMS vendors and SCORM compliance software suite suppliers throw in these templates for their clients. While using these templates is helpful for you, you have to remember that you still have to put in the work to customize them to fit your training goals. Eye appeal when it comes to eLearning modules is not all about the frills and embellishments. It’s also about combining colors, fonts, and images. Your content should be visually arranged so that the various elements lead your learners seamlessly through the sections of your eLearning module. It is also important for you to listen to what your learners are saying about your eLearning course design. Monitor how they are going through your site and take note of any hurdles that could be preventing them from moving at your expected pace.
Don’t be afraid to make changes along the way. This, however, does not mean that you can make sudden and drastic changes. Proper planning from the initial stages of eLearning design is important so that you only have to make slight tweaks and adjustments after your modules go live.