How to master the visual design of your online course - Part 2

The proper use of visual elements helps to easily convey complex topics, provides a uniform, consistent look to a course, and reinforces an organization’s brand identity. Even though visual design is not only about images, they remain the focus when designing an online learning course.

Design That Makes A Difference

Nowadays students prefer to learn with the help of videos and photos. However, the aim of visual design is not only to entertain and be attractive, but also to incorporate different knowledge and unlock new skills in your online students.

Proper design presents any type of content in a more effective way, emotionally engages the audience, and creates a better learning atmosphere.

You can make a difference with your course design if you focus on:

  • Familiarity. Use familiar fonts, colors, and icons based on the audience of your online course. Seeing something familiar will comfort your students and ensure a better understanding of any new material that you present. In addition, familiar objects remain in the memory for a much longer period of time.
  • Visual metaphors. Since learners do not share the same cultural and life experiences, as well as thoughts and feelings, it is essential to make use of visual metaphors in order to provoke their senses. Visual metaphors are new ways to project meaning, and learning more about them will give you a major advantage in online teaching.
  • Positive vibes. Positive people are more creative, flexible, and open to new ideas and teaching styles. If your online students are not happy, try to make them happy and you will notice a huge difference in the amount of learning that follows. Use mood filters, incorporate jokes or funny design, surprise with visuals, and demand your audience’s attention. It is definitely worth it, so design and be positive.

Tips For Using Images In Your Online Course

Statistics show that images increase a viewer’s willingness to read by up to 80%. Today learning is more visual than ever. Most of the searches on YouTube start with “how to.” Maybe you would rather watch a video about how to fix something that is broken than read a long dull manual. Since the main goal of learning is to create memorable knowledge, it is no wonder visual design is such a crucial skill for every online teacher. Focus on the key aspects of this journey and your efforts will soon pay off.

The best images take time to be discovered. Let it be so.

Choosing images for your online course is not as easy as it sounds. You have to be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve and what you are looking for. Try presenting the same piece of information with two very different image styles and you will be shocked by the different results. A powerful image can evoke emotion, can more directly affect the viewer, and can create connections between ideas or facts.

Give yourself enough time to research and come up with the best possible visuals. Try different picture galleries and find a design that corresponds to the style you want to achieve. Try to make the image relevant to the context. Your visual should either clarify the content or add more info on the subject. Avoid using too many or vague images.

Images and words have a deep connection. You can use this to your advantage.

Images are very important add-ons to your online course; use them wisely and pair them with the text. When words are supported by images there is a better chance that the information will be remembered now and recalled later. Text and images are the two sides of one coin. Use them or lose them.

Be sure that the selected image is logically connected to the text. Position your images close to each other and do not overload a single page with only images or text.
When selecting your visuals, keep in mind the different devices on which they will appear. If necessary, use scalable vector graphics (SVGs).

Choose images with people and focus on emotions

People’s faces tell stories. Real people make it possible to better connect with the information being offered and the audience can more easily associate with them. Look for images with people, preferably close-ups, looking right into your eyes – these photographs are more powerful that an image with an object on it. Intense gazes are hard to ignore.

Try to illustrate an emotion with the help of real faces. Images have the super power to trigger emotions and intensify a feeling.

Choose happy people or provocative pictures of people doing real things. Choose images of people showing emotion on their faces. The stronger the emotion, the more memorable it will be. Neutral, expressionless faces do not convey anything. You can insert a picture into your informative slide, but make sure that the person in the image is looking at the text in your slide. Subconsciously, your students will follow the direction of the gaze of the people that they see in the images.

Not every image suits every audience

Use only images that connect with your specific audience. Try not to be offensive and always think twice about the context. We are impressed by and attracted to visuals that are similar to our own experience. Try not to be too general with your visual arguments – certain images may work better for physicians, while others may be better for a literature course.

Keep in mind your own subject matter and audience. Online learners want to see themselves in your course. Select images that correspond to their experience, everyday activities, and responsibilities. Create the expected relevance and authenticity.

Select the appropriate filters for all of your images and stick to the selected palette to create consistency. Be aware that filters can also exude certain emotions. There will be pitfalls, but by staying positive and consistent you will get the results that you want.

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Tanya Ilieva has strong experience in journalism, advertising, creative copywriting and digital marketing. She has a PhD in Graphic design from Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Some of her creative works in advertising has been rewarded both in Bulgaria and abroad. Her fields of interest include: philosophy of language, semiotics, visual metaphors, linguistic.
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