January 26th, 2014 E-Learning

elearning-wordpressNothing is more distracting than when an elearning course is over-designed. In some ways, it reminds me of when people discovered that their PowerPoint presentations could have different transitions between slides (and were used constantly)!

Today over-designing isn’t always as obvious, but it is still prevalent.

While there are many different components to an elearning course that require some form of design, by far the most commonly overdone components of a course are the charts and diagrams.

What Makes a Good Diagram?

The very purpose of a diagram is to present a concept, data, or other relevant information in a succinct fashion. We encounter diagrams on nearly a daily basis (for years, USA Today has been printing diagrams and charts to show study results on their front page).

The trouble here is that diagrams can be overdone, and just plain distracting.

A good diagram (or chart) has some of the following characteristics:

  • Employs three colors maximum using the 60-30-10 principle
  • Has the various data points properly labelled
  • Presents information in a non-cluttered fashion
  • Uses a visible, but succinct key/legend

I am sure that many of you could think of more characteristics, these are just the main ones. If only one of these areas is not done properly, then the entire diagram suffers.

The best thing to do when you have to display a lot of information in a diagram is to keep it simple. First, don’t try to include everything into one diagram. It is okay to split out data into multiple formats. This will help you avoid over-cluttering the information.

Using diagrams in your elearning is a great way to help in learning retention. It makes it easy to understand concepts at a high level without having to dig through the weeds.

Diagrams and charts are an art more than a science – but whatever you do, don’t ever create a diagram that looks like this one.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


One response

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Hi Justin,

thanks for sharing this great article.
Do you suggest any certain workaround for chart implementation?
Right now I’m looking for a way displaying the user overall progress.
I’m not exactly sure how to grab the DB data in a dnyamic way. Do you use any specific php snippet?

Avatar Chris

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