5 Reasons Why Good Visual Design is Important for eLearning

Next week I’ll be speaking at the 2011 Lectora User Conference on the topic: “Graphic Design for the Rest of Us”. My talk will focus on the basic elements of visual design (color, shape, type, etc), and how they can be applied effectively in Lectora to improve the visual quality of courses.
I’d argue that effective visual design of online training is just as important as effective instructional design. I’ll back up that claim with these five reasons:
Good visual design is timeless.
 Sure design fads and trends may bend or break the rules, but the overall principles of good design themselves are set in stone. Learning them makes subjective design decisions easier to make, and increases the odds your design will stand the test of time.
Good visual design is refreshing.
Unfortunately, it is not the norm to see eLearning with a strong emphasis placed on visual design. So when it actually does occur, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
Good visual design is engaging.
When the visual design of an eLearning course syncs seamlessly with the instructional content, it creates a cohesive presentation that is much more likely to keep the user engaged. It sends a message that the content deserves the user’s attention.
Good visual design aids learning.
Bad visual design can end up being so distracting that it can inhibit learning. People get turned off to poorly designed courses. These three books link cognitive research on learning to graphics and instructional design.
Good visual design is tool agnostic.
Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator are the industry standard for graphic editors, but they don’t hold a monopoly on great design. The cost and learning curve to such programs can be a barrier for many, but fortunately cheaper, simpler tools are available such as those available for free at aviary.com.
The same goes for eLearning authoring tools. Every popular authoring tool can enable good visual design principles. If not directly, then through the ability to import graphic assets created in other programs. 

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