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If you’re thinking about creating eLearning courses you’ve probably started to think about standards. eLearning content needs to follow standards just like classroom manuals and material. When content is standardized it makes it easier for the learner to understand and quickly process the content. They stop noticing inconsistencies and focus on what you’d really like them to “ the meat!

Once you’ve come up with your own list of standards, make sure that everyone on the team has them (and lives by them). Don’t be soft. Enforce the standards and maybe even create some templates that are already standardized. You could also implement a final Q/A checklist that makes the designer complete a checklist that they followed each standard. After awhile following the standards will just become second nature.

Here is my list of 10 things that I’d include in my list of standardized items:
1. Bolding: Decide how to use bolding. To emphasize, as headings, for sections, to indicate actions?
2. Italics: Are hyperlinks italicized? What about names of documents, screens and systems?
3. Fonts: Choose 2-3 fonts and decide which one is for headings, body text, and possibly image design.
4. Colors: Find colors that contrast well. There are many different websites that help create color schemes and check contrast. Just a tip stay away from lime and purple text.
5. Layout: Design 5-10 different layouts and let the team use them. This saves time because each page doesn’t have to be custom designed each time. It also trains the learner to know how to understand your pages. Consider using e Learning templates.
6. Grammar and tense: Are you talking directly to the learner? Past tense or present tense (maybe future)? Should you be formal or informal?
7. Images: Will your images have shadows, rounded corners, feathering, borders, reflections, be square?
8. Buttons: What buttons will you always use? You might need buttons for next, back, jobaids, exit, simulation, more info, tips, play, course evaluation, get help, FAQs, feedback, and replay.
9. Logos: What logos will you have displayed? Company, department, none?
10. Text Size: What size are the headings? How about the body text?

Bonus List:
– File types: What types of files are allowed and function in the course? (.mov, .swf, .avi, .png, .wmv, etc.)
– Icons: Create a library of standard icons such as: caution, checkmarks, notes, numbers, arrows, etc.
– Interactivity: How do you tell the user to do something? Click the XXXXX button or Click XXXX? Do you bold what action the user should take?
– Bullets: What shape of bullets will you use?
– Course player/GUI: Create a standard interface for all courses. This allows the user to get used to how to navigation and use the courses.

Even More Tips from the Comments Section…Thanks! (view comments below)
– Component names: What do you call parts of the screen? Drop-down menu or List box? How to you tell them to access these components? Select, click, choose, enter, type, etc.

– Capitalization: Make it consistent throughout. For instance, are you capitalizing button names (on the buttons and in instructional references — all lowercase, all caps, title case)? What about certain terms (and if so, which ones)?

Here’s a nice article on Legibility from Adobe Magazine.

I know that I’ve missed a bunch. What others would you include?

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