5 Quick tips for engaging visuals

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

Creating engaging eLearning – Part 5

Increasingly those of us who are involved in putting together any sort of visual material whether it’s slides for live sessions, eLearning screens, Slideshares, classroom presentations are finding it necessary to have a reasonable knowledge the basics of graphic design and marketing. Graphic design because we need to make an impact with visuals appropriately but marketing because we are actually ‘selling’ our content through visuals.

Here are 3 quick tips to get you started:


1. Use the rule of thirds

One simple but a very effective rule that will help anyone starting out on their journey to engage with visuals is the ‘rule of thirds’. As a little task to my readers out there, just do a little Googling on the subject and you’ll be amazed what you find and perhaps it might explanation why we’re drawn to some photos and not others. Those photographers out there may already be aware of it or perhaps you have a natural eye and didn’t even know the principle your were automatically applying to your compositions.


2. Look not just see

I often recommend those on my courses to take a closer and more analytic look at adverts as they take the morning bus ride. Note the composition; how have the people in the pictures been placed? How much text is displayed and what influence does the font style (typography) have on the message being conveyed? How much ‘white space’ is there and how does it help the message? We can learn a lot from advertisers and photographers.

We can also be creative in how we combine text and images. Have a little think for a moment….. as we go through our daily lives, on what objects do we see text written? Where are they positioned and how is colour being used to ‘gel’ the composition?


3. Use visual context

Context is important; you can place content in context quickly making appropriate image choices.  For example, in an office environment there are notepads, folders, computer screens, laptops, diaries, labels, post-it notes. In a kitchen there are cans, menus, order pads, jam-jars, packets of food. In a hospital there are prescription pads, medicine bottles, medical record sheets, signage, x-ray panels.

No matter what our topic is for either presentations, live online sessions or eLearning screens, we have a plethora of objects to choose from. Taking a piece of eLearning for example, if our topic was about chairing meetings the agenda for the session could very appropriately be displayed on an image of an official agenda sheet. We could, perhaps, type a question in a handwriting font on a spiral notebook or even use a post-it note to display each possible option in answer to a question.


4. Take inspiration from around you

Next time you look at the news on TV, pay more attention to the graphics they use when presenting any statistical information and pinch any ideas you can.

5. Trash the (PowerPoint) template


Ditch that boring PowerPoint template (although some of the more recent designs you can choose from are pretty good).  The default PowerPoint template is old-fashioned with centred heading and bullet lists. 

Of course, there is much more we can apply to make sure our visuals are not only engaging but meet usability guidelines too but these will get you off to a good start. 

Remember my mantra: our only limitation is our imagination.

For previous posts in this series see:

Can eLearning designers learn from retail designers
Putting the learning back in e-learning
Creating engaging eLearning – as easy as CSI
What hope is there for eLearning?

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