7 quick tips for captivating instructional graphic design

Aug 27, 2018Blog, instructional design tips, visual design1 comment

I can say you are a good instructional designer, just by the fact that you are reading this blog. It means that you are looking for improvement in your work, getting your eLearner attention and engagement. In this articles, we will give you 7 quick tips for immediate use for instructional graphic design so you can make your visual aids look awesome and attractive.

Why captivating instructional graphic design matter

Visual aids is indispensable to eLearning, so does instructional graphic design

If you can get your eLearners attention to the cover, they might ignore what inside as well. People do not have patience to watch through your content if there is nothing catching their eyes and ears first.

The design is not just decoration, it is purposeful communication

So what messages you can communicate with learners through instructional graphic design?

“You are learning from professionals.”The first impression is important as it can impact the prolonged interest of the audience. When you invest in the graphic design, you prove yourself as trustworthy professionals that care about the learners’ experiences, satisfy students with eyes candies (and valuable content) and motivate them throughout learning experiences.

“This is the essential data you should remember.”

Graphic design could do more than just satisfying people’s eyes. Graphic design also shares the same function of creating focal points to navigate learners. With just a change of font styles or colors, you help learners realize the key ideas of the lessons. The same goes for adding relevant images, videos, and data visualization of the topic.


Tips for the better graphic design of online courses

Good instructional graphic design not only grabs but also keeps learners’ interest. Sound daunting? Don’t worry, here are 7 quick tips for immediate use to prevent your dear learner from drop out your online course.

Keep clutter to minimum

If you can only remember only one tip, this is it! Why? Because learners are compelled to split their attention with so many elements vying. In the end, one thing remains in their mind is the question ‘um, what just happened?’. If you have text-heavy screens, try these tips to improve them:

  • Try to explain ONE idea in one screen
  • Short down the sentences, reduce the number of long phrases and lengthy sentences
  • Ensure to highlight the critical pieces of information
  • Use voiceover to provide instructions. It actually eliminates the need to have too much text on screen.

Choose the clean fonts

Choosing the right font may positively impact your course design. However, it doesn’t mean that you should throw whatever beautiful fonts in your work. Neat, simple, and defined fonts like Serif and Sans-Serif are designed for better readability on screen. So if you use these types of fonts, you are pretty much in the safe zone. If you want to be more adventurous on the fun side, there are various web-safe and free fonts from Google that you can use to motivate learners. Just don’t go overboard with those fancies or you may found yourself distracting the students. Here are a few things you need to notice while choosing font:

  • Serif: designed for traditional and formal context, suitable to make reliable statements
  • San-serif: easy to read, more flexible, suitable for body content and deliver to young learners
  • Hand writing: Fancy, but difficult to read. Should be used only for short, highlight information, not recommend using to much
  • Never use more than 3 fonts in a design.

You may find this tips boring. Well, sometimes minimalism is the best. It is not like you are designing a concert poster though. Your fonts are supposed to support your topic. A clean and readable look might be best for your font options.

Pay attention to hierarchy

In fact, rather than browsing fancy fonts for your slide, you should focus more on the hierarchy instead. Basically, the hierarchy indicates the importance of the information basing on the size of the fonts and where you locate that information. According to an eye-tracking study by Eyequant, people tend to look from left to right and from top to bottom. Therefore, place your most important information in the top-left conner.

Image Source: Articulate

Second, people will see the big, stand out information first then move to smaller one. However, increasing the size only doesn’t work to hierarchy your information. The reason is they could look too similar. To highlight important piece of information, you need to make contrast. And to make good contrast, you can use font style, like bold vs. light or use different color. You can use this image above a guideline for your font browsing. The font could be different, but they should imply the same concept. If you are unsure, just try a slide in PowerPoint to check if anything looks off.

Understand the basic of color psychology

The color is the tone-setter of your course. There are various researches on the impact of color on people’s experience and impression. Well, for example, F.Learning Studio is not accidentally orange. Basically, the color of your eLearning program should follow your branding guideline. If you don’t have any branding guideline yet, this chart could help you identify the most appropriate color for your subjects.

Suggestion for a medical training course? Turquoise!

Whatever the color of your choice is, you should stay with the more neutral scheme. The neutral color scheme would give learners a reliable and calm atmosphere, while the brighter one generates a more fun and adventurous appearance. Apart from the fact that too bright color hurt the eyes, such color may trigger danger alert from your students, which is not that ideal for instructional graphic design

Balance the layout

To any graphic designers, and now instructional designers, symmetry is a helpful concept to create the balance in your eLearning slide. A perfected symmetrical design would create a sense of stability, which is highly desirable in eLearning. This concept could also help you navigate the learners’ focus. In contrast, an asymmetrical design will have an opposite effect and may distract learners’ attention to other elements on the page.

Use images with consideration

Images can be the powerful tool if you know how to work with them. Beautiful photos or illustrations would create an aesthetic sense to your course but the visual game also needs caution. The key is to pick up relevant images to your content only. Each image must tell a message, not just something to illustrate a random sentence.

So before you add any visual materials to your course, ask yourself:

  • What kinds of messages you’d like to convey to your learners
  • Do these images evoke a positive emotion in them?
  • Do these images help you clarify the learning content?
  • Last but not least, do they fit the layout?

Images also support learners in their eLearning process by visualizing complicated concepts and information. Basically, visual aids like graphs, charts, and illustrations provide representations of data and statistics to help e-students absorb the complicated information better.

Maybe you are interested in:
> Best stock photography for eLearning developers 2018


Use animations to add a fresh experience

Animations here are not those flying budgets and transitions you often see in the eLearning course. This type of slide animations do bring benefits to the navigation of the course, but they may easily come as distracting for e-Learners. The animated video is a different story. They not only enhance the overall visual design of the course, they give learners new experiences and maintain their interest throughout the learning process.

The idea of producing animations may sound overwhelming, but you could use various tools to create your own videos. Software like Vyond, PowToon or Animaker grants you the easy access to animations with a huge library of templated assets. What you need to do is mostly drag and drop. However, they can hardly illustrate complicated concepts in specialized subjects like science, mechanisms or medication. Hence you should hire a professional studio to create these tailored details.

[Plus] How should you design your eLearning course?

This infographic will point out the pros and cons of designing eLearning course with 2 common option: DIY and hire an instructional designer. Some tips for best design course with each option are included, check it out!




E-learning content is the core value of your course, but graphic would be something to prove your professionalism and engage learners throughout the learning process. The best suggestion is to follow the rule of the neat fonts, the hierarchy, the balanced layouts and break free with visual materials. Visual aids in your program could be photos, illustration, or even animations. Whatever types of materials you see, please bear in mind that everything must have a purpose. Graphic design with a purpose would be communication, not decoration.


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