devWhen time is a factor in an elearning project, the one area that often goes overlooked is design.

Design can include a lot of various components of a course, including the supplemental visuals, color schemes, player format (in the case of programs like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate), diagrams, and more.

The reality is the design of the course is certainly a contributing component to its overall success. Sure, it may not be the driving factor, but it is often the first thing that learners will notice. If it is poorly done or inconsistent, the content will lose credibility.

If you are under a time crunch when creating course content, then you may be better served to hire a specialist for the design components. If you don’t have the budget to do so, you could always consider investing in templates. However, it is important to select a template that is appropriate for the content (or again, course credibility will suffer).

Remember though that design is more than just colors and images, it is also about the text. The appropriate font family should be selected, and headers should be consistent throughout the course. If your budget is limited for hiring a specialist, then this is one area that you (or someone creating the courses) can address.

Design Goes Stale

Let’s imagine that you have created an elearning course and your design is perfect. You have the professional images, the right balance between graphics and text, the content is delivered effectively, and course-wide the presentation is consistent. The one last thing you need to remember is that design is very much influenced by the times.

Keep an eye on industry trends for design, and update your courses accordingly as these trends shift. For example, I can recall a time when everything involved a drop-shadow. Everything from pictures to header text was given a shadow. Today the trend is flat design.

If your old courses incorporate a lot of these older design elements, you would be well-served to update them. If the design is dated, people may also believe that the content is as well.

While content is always king for your courses, remember that design goes a long way in presenting and enhancing it. You don’t have to be a specialist (or necessarily hire one) for all your courses. Just be sure to keep up with the latest trends and make sure you are revisiting your courses when necessary to give them a face-lift.

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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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Hi Justin, I just installed LD and am looking for ways to make the design pages look better. Are there any plans to integrate with Optimize Press 2?

Hi Andrea-

Thanks for the note. LearnDash will adopt the layout/design of your WordPress theme. Naturally, some themes are better than others. In the FAQs on the support site we give some suggestions as to which ones we know look good with LearnDash – but if you have further questions open a forum thread.

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