When you are designing an E-learning course, the User Experience should be such that the content is communicated clearly, and learners are engaged and reach their learning goals. However good your course is, if the e-Learning design does not work then no one is going to complete the course! The content, graphics and user navigation must be just right, and for this to happen the designer should keep some basic principles in mind. Here, we tell you what they are!
A course that is visually appealing and looks interesting will engage the learner from start to finish. Think of a magazine layout that has all the fonts and pictures sizes identical on every page…it would be the most boring layout ever, and will make for a difficult read! The same principles of design apply to your e-Learning as well.
Pay careful attention to the visual hierarchy when you are designing each layout. All texts should be well differentiated starting from the heading, to subheadings and the main body. The eye should ‘flow’ the right way, and guide the user to read the content in the way that it’s meant to be read. Vital text should stand out from the rest, and captions can be highlighted.
Font style and sizes, image sizes and placeholders play an important role in creating visual interest. Navigation bars should be in the right place. Try out different options till you find the one that works best.
While you do want visual hierarchy, the underlying style throughout each page should be consistent, so that the user is not distracted or confused. Disjointed styles can be very jarring and can reduce the retention levels of the learner. Basically you should use similar fonts, shapes and colour combinations, and also make sure that the brightness, contrast or colour deviations are not very different. Maintain uniformity in the flow of the content.
Less is more, and too much content on a page can distract and frustrate the reader. Cut out any unnecessary fluff and make sure that important information is highlighted. Simple slides with charts and tables, or information presented as graphs, will work much better than a long, crowded body of continuous text. Give the information in bite-size snippets and bullets.
Pay attention to the white or blank space in your layout, as it helps to de-clutter the information. White space provides visual relief and allows the viewer to ‘breathe’. It can completely transform your layout as it will make the text and pictures stand out. The human brain is wired to easily take in content that is clean and organized much better than something that is very cluttered.
It goes without saying that typefaces must be given careful attention. Text must be clear and legible, so that users are not troubled when trying to read quickly. Experts are of the view that you should use sans serif fonts of at least 16 pixels for online content, and stick to only 2 or 3 typefaces on a page.
An intuitive navigation structure will allow learners to go back and forth easily. Navigation pointers should be positioned so that they are hard to miss, and you should make sure that there is a clickable bar that allows readers to switch back to earlier sections and navigate to quizzes and other resources easily.
The content will flow much better with the right use of colours. Use colours that blend well with each other and do not distract. Monochromatic colours can be boring, but colours that are too bright can be very jarring. You need to strike the right balance with shades that harmonize well with each other.
You can use e-Learning automation tools like Adobe Captivate, Articulate and so on which offer ready-made easy-to-use templates for e-Learning design. Using these tools will help you to generate engaging, visually appealing content in a very short time, with the least trouble!