5 visual design rules that will boost your next e-learning project

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You know a good (or bad design) when you see one!

But how can you designate a design’s qualities (or flaws)?

Or use the qualities in your e-learning designs, especially if you’re not a designer?

It’s all about CRAP.

And it’s not what you think it is 😉

 is a set of graphic design principles described by Robin Patricia Williams in her book, The Non-Designer’s Design Book. It stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity.

If you use the C.R.A.P principles, you can consistently create compelling designs.

Now let’s go through the four principles one by one. So you learn what the different principles mean and how to apply them as you create your next e-learning course.

Let’s start with the first principle

1.   Contrast

Contrast is all about making things stand out. You can use it to drive your learner’s attention to specific elements on your slide. You have different types of contrast, for instance:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Shade
  • Color
  • Proximity

How can you use contrast?

Determine first which elements in your composition you want to emphasise. Then use colour, texture, form, and other elements to create contrast and draw attention to the emphasised elements.

See this example with colour contrast for the two buttons on a result slide.

2.     Repetition

Repetition is how you maintain consistency in your design. In addition, it helps your learners get familiarised with how you present information to them.

If you repeat design elements on your slides, such as titles in the same font and font size, layout, colour schemes and so on, you provide visual cues to your leaner so that they can follow the course content and understand how it all fits together.

How can you use repetition?

Determine the elements you want to repeat in your composition. Design them. If you want to know that these elements have the same design on every slide in your e-learning, you can use Font themes, colour themes, text styles and Slide masters.

3.     Alignment

Alignment determines how elements are positioned on your slides in your e-learning. With alignment, no element on your slides is positioned arbitrarily. Instead, each element visually connects to the other elements, leading to cohesiveness in your designs.

How to use alignment?

Use a consistent alignment to create a visual structure and organisation. Also, align the text so it’s easier to read and understand. 

See how elements are aligned in this example. And the paragraph of text is left aligned, so it’s better readable.

And the last principle…

4. Proximity

Proximity structures your e-learning. Proximity means placing related items closer to each other. This principle helps learners recognise the relationship between objects more easily. So, identify connected elements in closer proximity and separate the unrelated ones.

How to use proximity?

Determine which elements in your e-learning are related to each other. Then, place these related elements close to each other to create a sense of grouping and organisation. See the example of the result slide above with the quiz result section on the left.

These CRAP design principles are simple rules, but they can make a massive difference in the design of your e-learning course if you use them correctly.

If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about creating e-learning courses with Articulate Storyline, you can watch my YouTube videos here

Thanks for reading.


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