I’ve written various blogs about why gratuitous eLearning images are bad. Our images should be relevant and be used as a teaching aid. It has always been interesting to me how many “bad images” are used in eLearning. Especially since many of us are primarily visual learners. This probably happens because typing text is a lot easier and faster than creating meaningful images. (Confession…I’ve used my fair share of “bad images” over the years.)

Jakob Nielsen has done various eye tracking studies to determine how users interact with images on websites. I’d consider eLearning to fall into the same category as websites. Our learners typically browse and scan our courses as they would a site.

Here are the main results of his study:

– Users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to “jazz up” Web pages.
– Some types of pictures are completely ignored. This is typically the case for big feel-good images that are purely decorative.
– Other types of pictures are treated as important content and scrutinized. Photos of products and real people (as opposed to stock photos of models) often fall into this category.

Basically learners pay attention to “information-carrying” images.

Extra Tidbit:
He also mentioned that when a user clicks on an image to enlarge it we should make it at least twice as big. Too often we only enlarge it 20% and that’s not enough. If the user wants a big picture…give it to them.

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