January 14th, 2015 Instructional Design

most-importantEvery elearning course uses visuals as a way of presenting content. This can include charts, inforgraphics, characters, and everything in between. Use of visuals in elearning is a natural way to break up the monotony of reading through bullet-points of text.

All that said, there is a right way and a wrong way to use visuals in elearning. Simply inserting a random picture isn’t going to make your course more effective.

To help give you some guidance on how to use visuals in your courses, SHIFT ELearning has developed a rather straight-forward checklist that you can use to evaluate any image or chart you have within your content.

Specifically, you should be looking to ensure that they all pass the “5 Cs”.


Do the visuals you use help to make a key takeaway more clear, or is it included just for fluff? Avoid visual distractions and try to use images with the purpose of clarifying objectives.


Visuals can sometimes be more confusing than just explaining with text. Make sure your visuals present information (especially any charts you use) in a concise manner. If it cannot be done, just use text.


Images and graphics should logically connect to the information on the screen. Don’t rely on learners to make mental leaps on how the data in the graphic relates to the current lesson topic. The course’s written text and the visual should logically relate to one another.


It is important to make sure visuals are compelling, especially if they include key points related to the course objectives. If your images aren’t compelling, they won’t command attention and the entire point of using them is lost.


Visuals should be applied consistently across the entire course. If you have multiple elearning modules, then imagery between all of the courses should be consistent as well. Setting up a style guide will help you to be consistent.

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

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