Everyone knows that graphics play a vital role in training. Good visuals help learners absorb material more effectively and make training memorable. Bad visuals, on the other hand, distract learners, and can be detrimental to the learning process. To design truly valuable courses, eLearning professionals should be aware of the fundamental graphic design tips and tricks. In this article, we will review some of them.
1. Draw attention to the most important elements of the course – Prior to deciding on a theme for the eLearning course, instructional designers need to figure out the core idea of the training. Then, design graphics based on that focal point. It is very important to ensure that all visuals are relevant to the content of the course. By identifying the main idea of each slide, instructional designers will be able to select the most appropriate font, colors, and images.
2. Use PowerPoint to create graphics – There are many different tools that can be used to create and edit graphics; however, there is no need to invest in expensive software when, in many cases, PowerPoint can be just as powerful. There are many free PowerPoint tutorials available on the Internet that can help instructional designers create professional graphics using the image fade technique, the PowerPoint blur trick, as well as the so-called stand-out graphics technique.
3. Re-use existing resources – Many eLearning professionals are hesitant about reusing existing resources because they want to ensure that each of their courses is unique. However, to save time and money, recycling existing graphics may be necessary. Some of the ways to reuse graphics include cropping images to make them fit in with an overall theme of the course, removing background to make it transparent, and recoloring images to fit the color scheme.
4. Select the appropriate type of graphics – According to Ruth Clark and Chopeta Lyons, there are seven types of graphics for eLearning:
- Decorative graphics – does not add any instructional value and is mostly used on course covers.
- Mnemonic graphics – helps learners retrieve facts from memory by looking at images that represent factual information.
- Representational graphics – helps learners understand what the on-screen text is about by looking at the graphics.
- Organizational graphics – helps learners organize the information using charts and graphs.
- Relational graphics – shows the quantitative relationship of variables through pie charts and line graphs.
- Transformational graphics – shows changes over time through before and after images and timelines.
- Interpretative graphics – illustrates abstract principles through diagrams and animations.
5. Select the appropriate file type – The most commonly used images in eLearning are PNGs, JPGs, and GIFs. The file type selected for images depends on the needs and priorities. If it is important that the course loads quickly, then JPGs should be used as they are smaller in size and load quicker than PNGs. If the transparent image is needed, then PNGs should be used. GIFs are lower quality than PNGs and JPGs, and should only be used if small file size is more important than quality. GIFs are also appropriate for animated graphics.
6. Ensure all visuals meet the accessibility requirements – To ensure that all graphics is 508-compliant, instructional designers should describe it with alternative text. Note that charts and graphs cannot be described with alternative text; therefore, eLearning professionals should provide a text version of the information included in these visuals.
Most instructional designers know that visually appealing courses draw learners’ attention, and help them understand, analyze, and process information. However, in order to add value, the appropriate type of graphic should be selected, and all visual elements must be consistent and relevant to the topic.