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!
When you design e-learning courses you often have to incorporate pop-up style feedback windows into your layouts. Feedback windows are used in e-learning for a few reasons, the main ones being: 1) To provide correct and incorrect feedback information, and 2) to provide tips, hints or additional information for the learners.
I am sharing a few examples of feedback “designs” that I developed 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 add that faded background effect. I really like using this “faded background” effect for feedback pop-up windows; it’s a simple way to keep a strong visual connection between the feedback and the content you are providing the feedback for. I also like 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. However, there are some more subtle design faux-pas (‘s?) that not everyone knows about. Here’s a look at a few of them, and some tips on how to avoid making those mistakes in your own designs.
White space (sometimes known as negative space) is the unmarked or un-used 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.
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
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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!
As of late, I have been feeling a “need” to be creative and unleash some of my artistic skills. As such, I’ve been on a roll and producing tons of graphic designs for my blog over the last few days. It’s great to have this blog as an outlet for my energy and to share my artwork. I really appreciate the support everyone’s been showing. So, I just created a few random eLearning slides in Adobe Captivate just for fun! I also use these designs in my portfolio, and might use them as templates in future projects if the opportunity arises. Mostly, just for fun though! Just a few random comments about what went into the design:
- I really like using rectangles with rounded corners. I feel like it really “softens” the design, as opposed to really sharp and angular rectangle edges. I’ve noticed I use them a lot!
- 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 the Captivate colour pane. So that’s how I picked my colour scheme. I decided to just go 2 colours, light blue and white.
- I love using photos with white backgrounds, or cutting out the background altogether (as I did with the headset woman). I find it looks clean and less cluttery that having photos with busy backgrounds.
- In a regular project, I would remove the duration/minutes showing at the bottom of the Table of Contents using a widget I found online. Very handy if you don’t want users to see the duration.
- The “decorative” font is called Dear Joe and the body text font is Calibri.
- For the “Incorrect/Correct” slides, I did a copy/paste of the question slide, and then put a gray rectangle with medium transperancy over top. Then I added the “Correct” and “Incorrect” bubbles over top. I like the faded out background effect, although I think I should have made the transperancy level a bit darker. The woman shows through too much.
- I don’t really like how the Captivate TOC says “Slide Title”. I have looked into ways to remove it but have not been succesful as of yet. If anyone knows how, let me know!
- Now that it’s done and I look at the screenshots, I think I would go back and make the Playbar at the bottom an “overlay”. As such, I would have to edit the slides and move everything upwards, so the playbar doesn’t cover anything. But I think it would look better, and would look more balance, as opposed to the playbar hanging off the bottom right now on its own. Not a big deal though.
Feel free to leave feedback and comments.
Here are some screenshots from a basic eLearning template I created in Adobe Captivate 5.5. Hopefully they can provide some inspiration for your next eLearning project!
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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.
I personally 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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