The 7 Habits of Highly Effective eLearning Designers

Effective eLearning Designers

Good habits help drive successful eLearning courses.

The job of an eLearning Graphic designer is to create user interfaces and user experience design effectively. This includes creating all the content envisioned by Instructional Designers. Together they plan and create the course. Sometimes these are at odds with each other. Good communication and collaboration between the two positions is formed by good habits. So, consider using the 7 Habits of Highly Effective eLearning Designers:

1.  Always Be Looking for New Designs

Always keep an eye open and pay attention to the world around you. You can learn from things like menus, posters, and kiosks. Why did the designer decide to use that font? Did the imagery make sense? Grab what you can from things around you and take note of what works. Again, always be looking for new designs. 

2.  Plan Ahead

This is where you sketch, choose colors, themes, fonts, strong imagery, etc.

As you are meeting with the client initially, figure out what the client needs. What are their colors? What kind of fonts would be appropriate in their case? Do they have a website? If so, what kind of existing branding do they currently have? Do they have a style guide?

Start sketching, and brainstorming. Create a set of basic eLearning themes. These exercises will help you in determining the direction of the activity, and ultimately plan ahead.

3.  Simple Graphic Design Goes a Long Way

Don’t over design. Strong imagery combined with basic design goes a long way. I watched Hell’s Kitchen years ago. Chef Ramsey had two cooks go into the street and have people taste their dishes, and whoever was more liked moved on. Of the two cooks, one of them was amazing, the other was cooking familiar dishes. The amazing cook lost. Why? Because he was cooking for other cooks, not for the person on the street.

Remember your audience. Don’t get too caught up in designing for other designers. Choose a few slides to shine, keep the rest simple. Remember the 5 Ways to KISS Your eLearning (an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid).

4.  Keep Open Communication

Brief or quick meetings make it hard to communicate effectively. Ask questions. Get technical and find out project limitations. Keep lines of communication open. Meet regularly with the client. An hour of meetings can save hours and hours of miscommunication.

5.  Leverage Talent

Whether you’re one person, or part of a design team, know your strengths. You can’t be everything to everyone. Know what you do best, and use other people’s talents for what you need help with. Whenever I am stuck, I ask other developers for help. They are much better at logic than me. On the flip side, they ask questions about design tips that keep me on my toes.

6. Be Open to Feedback

Miscommunication can make the design process that much harder. Don’t take feedback personally. Make sure you understand feedback given to you. If you’re the one giving the feedback, make sure it’s clear and detailed to avoid any miscommunication. Emailing, texting, and Skyping do not always result in the intended meaning. They may not understand you are being jovial, for example. So, be open to feedback, and be clear with your feedback.

7. Review What You’ve Learned

At the end of a long project meet with your team and ask, what have we learned? We find this is the best eliminate issues in the next project. We can see what went wrong, and how to fix it. We also see what went right and how to replicate it.

Another great idea is to identify course elements for reuse. Not everything has to be created from scratch. Archive icons, diagrams, graphics, etc. Copy shortcuts, templates, or code for future projects. This is a great tip and has helped us speed up our workflow.

In conclusion, what are your eLearning strengths and strategies? What are some of your habits that work for you in your process? Share with us your comments and ideas below.


  1. Hey brothers, Some great points there. We’ve also found that highly effective e-learning designers are great team players and seek out new ways to collaborate well with others in their team, including the client, subject matter experts and other internal team members. Great collaboration speeds up the reviewing and commenting process which means that projects get completed more quickly. To help with this, we’ve seen effective e-learning designers make use of software tools such as Google Docs and web-based authoring tools that have collaborative commenting and reviewing functions.

  2. You’re exactly right Steve. Great collaboration does speed up the process, which is why we definitely use Google Docs. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Good reminders of the things we need to be doing as ID’s and learning advocates. I think “simplicity” is under-rated, not used enough, and makes our lives better, not boring.
    Several things mentioned in this article touch on simplicity. It doesn’t mean your simple minded. But you keep things simple in your design process.
    It can still be powerful elearning. It can motivate learners and capture their attention without being complicated.

    Like the comment from Steve also and I agree. One of the biggest characteristics to succeed in learning is “EQ” or emotional intelligence and our ability to work with others.

    Thanks for sharing,

  4. Thanks for your comment Mark. We really appreciate it. So glad you liked it. Hey, you might also like the “How to KISS Your eLearning” post we did recently. It talks all about simplicity in your eLearning, just more in depth. Have a great day!


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