I have talked a lot lately about the wisdom of “in-sourcing” the competencies needed to produce good eLearning – competencies and expertise that you may not have on hand. For example, I understand the important role that good graphic design plays in communicating a message and in engaging learners on different levels, but I can’t produce it myself. I know good design when I see it, but would be hard pressed to explain why it is good. This is why I have called on the services of Anie Kojarian for many our eLearning projects.

Anie is a Visual Communicator who has a fine art degree and has taught herself how to use tools such as HTML, Flash and Captivate. This grounding in what constitutes good design, together with the ability to bring a vision to life, is invaluable. Good graphic design is not only important in its own right; it can make an eLearning experience much more engaging for the learner and aid in the realization of learning objectives.

 

I recently asked Anie some questions about “graphical engagement.” Her responses follow.

RN: What are the key principles of good graphic design?

AK: That’s a tough one to answer in a short format…entire books are published on this topic. But if I were to narrow it down to a few key points, I would say:

– Keep things consistent…use repetition of colour, font types, alignment, shapes, link colours, etc.
– Use the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid!)…avoid clutter, keep your presentation clean and clear
– Use visual cues…i.e. appropriate images that support the surrounding information
– Be aware of focal points…ensure hierarchy of information is clear…i.e. that which is most important should stand out as such (use high contrast)

RN: How can good graphic design enhance learning?

AK: Good design makes it a more pleasurable experience for the learners. They don’t have to struggle to figure out what they are supposed to do. The eye is guided to what is important and can grasp instantly the flow of the eLearning experience. Good design can help keep learners interested, engaged and motivated to complete tasks.

Also, good design can provide a variety of stimuli and appeal to learners with different learning styles. This can help learners retain more in their long term memories.

RN: What are some of the most common graphic design errors with respect to eLearning?

AK: Here are some of the most common mistakes I see:

– Non-creative people creating graphics
– Clutter…using an overload of unnecessary clip art images
– Lack of consistency…when one page doesn’t look like it belongs to the next page, making it more difficult to navigate through all the pages
– Lack of a focal point on the page, everything looks the same, the eye doesn’t know where to go
– Not enough white space…the page should have some breathing room
– No contrast
– Loud background images, making it difficult to read the content
– Pages and pages of text…no bullet point lists, no break up into small paragraphs, no visuals, no other senses being engaged

RN: Thanks Anie!

AK: My pleasure…

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