eLearning Style Guide
LizSheffieldBioLiz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

A few months ago, my bank changed the interface for their mobile app. When I logged in for the first time, I was rattled. I wondered if it was really my bank (there are hackers everywhere!). But then I looked at the colors of the app. I checked the logo. I even found language that was consistent with the previous version of the app. I sighed in relief and used their new, nifty app to complete my banking.

Have you had a similar experience? And, what about the learners who access the training you create? Have they had a similar experience when they logged in to complete a course and weren’t familiar with the style?

Consistency is key if you want to avoid complete and utter confusion—and possibly panic, if your learners are like me. To ensure you deliver a consistent eLearning “brand,” it’s a good idea to have a style guide for the content you deliver. (And, if you’re creating content for multiple clients, you’ll want a style guide for each client.

Style guides will differ depending on the complexity of the organization’s brand or the client’s needs, but in general a style guide should define the elements of your eLearning brand. It’s the way you represent your eLearning as part of the larger organization, and it’s also a way to convey a specific tone and mood to your learners.

Logo requirements: Do you need to include a ™ or ® on the logo in your courses? What are the specifications if you want to re-size the logo? This is where the trademark and intellectual property lawyers will get you every time. Find out what the logo requirements are, and don’t mess with them.

Color palette: Identify a main color and two accent colors you’ll be using in your design. If these aren’t dictated by the organization’s colors, you should spend time considering what emotions you want to evoke when learners complete your eLearning and also look for colors that reflect the overall industry.

Fonts: Look for a font that pairs well with the style of the organization’s logo. Identify the size you will use for headlines, subheadings, and text. Stick to those guidelines.

Image standards: Identify the types of images you’ll be using in your eLearning. Will they be photos or illustrations? What size images will you use? Is there a specific place in the content where you will or won’t use them?

If all the details to consider make you nervous, consider using eLearning templates that follow your style guide. A template takes the guesswork and research out of the process and ensures you deliver an eLearning product that is consistent with the style guide you’ve created.

How do you keep the look and feel of your eLearning design consistent so as to avoid disorienting your learners? Please let us know in the comments.

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