The most efficient way to achieve consistency in visual design for an eLearning course or presentation is to write a visual style guide. It’s nearly a necessity when working on a team and it’s also valuable when working solo (though a shorter guide may suffice).
In either situation, here are some benefits of writing an eLearning visual style guide. See below.
- Forces you to make up-front design decisions
- Provides one visual standard for an entire course, curriculum or company
- Saves time when you need to look up colors, font sizes, etc.
- Provides a reference for future courses if you want to re-use the design
- Provides a way to get buy-in from your client
Here are my recommendations for the standards to include in your guide. When possible, include visual examples of the styles to ensure everyone understands. This guide doesn’t tell you how to make design decisions, just which decisions to make and specify.
Do you have additional recommendations? Please add them below in Comments.
|Visual Element||What to Specify|
|SCREEN LAYOUT||Identify the types of templates in the course, describe their organization, show screen shots and include as separate files when appropriate|
|*COLOR PALETTE||Main Colors: identify two or three for the overall interface and background (often related to branding)|
|Accent Colors: select one or two accent colors|
|Hyperlinks: specify the color of hyperlinks|
|TYPOGRAPHY||**Titles or large text: specify typeface, style, color, size and alignment|
|Subtitles or second largest text: specify typeface, style, color, size and alignment|
|Body Text: typeface, style, color and size (will always be left-justified)|
|Captions; typeface, style, color and size (will typically be left-justified)|
|Labels: typeface, style, color and size (this may need to vary)|
|READABILITY||Leading: identify how much space to allow between lines of text within a paragraph|
|Paragraph Spacing: identify how much space to allow before and after paragraphs|
|VISUALS||Image Style: identify types of images to use, such as color photos, black and white photos, illustrations or clip art|
|Image Sizes: specify standard sizes of images for each type of screen (example: split screen photos will be 512x768)|
|Image Borders: identify whether images will have borders and the color and line thickness of the border|
|LOGO||Note which style of logo to use on the title screen (you won't be using it on other screens, right?)|
|HIGHLIGHTS (for emphasis)||Type of highlight: arrows (show example of head and stem), hand-drawn circles, light band of color, etc. If using multiple highlights, specify when each type will be used.|
|Color of each type of highlight|
|INTERFACE ELEMENTS||Identify the color and style of any user interface elements you control|
|Icons: style and size of icons for navigation or other UI purposes|
Notes that refer to the table:
*When specifying color values, use RGB (example: 122 127 130 for medium gray) or hex format (#7A7F82 for medium gray). In PowerPoint, you can find the RGB value through the color selector.
**All screens do not need titles and titles do not need to be at the top of the screen. That’s why you should specify the size of large text, to allow for flexibility in screen design.