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Working as a designer for eLearning courses and templates at eLearning Brothers means that I need to constantly stay on top of the latest trends in both web development and graphic design. There are lots of places to get inspiration out there, and after some research, I’ve come up with seven trends that will see a lot of use in 2017.

Modern-Retro Design

A mixture of both modern and retro design isn’t going to be a new thing if you’ve been around the designing block recently. Creatives are mixing the ideology behind some of the flat or semi-flat (or material) design principles with more of the retro typography and colors for a hip new style. This will definitely continue to trend upward throughout the year.


Hearkening back to the ideals mentioned above, minimalism is a large part of the new modern design trends. “Less is more” is a frequently-used quote to describe how your product should look and feel. The aim is simplicity, and you should seek for ways to strip down to only that which the learner will need without any added fluff.

Failure Mapping

Failure mapping is designing the UX for the non-ideal user. It’s largely a principle that applies to web development to help you increase conversions, but similar applications are important for eLearning design as well. It’s important to understand where in your content a user will end up confused or failing to follow the flow you’ve set in place. Don’t let details be a distraction and keep the focus on the content. Understanding the patterns for how your product will end up being used—and, just as importantly, used improperly—will help lead you to correct the design for more successful outcomes.

Illustrated Images

As with last year, designers are still seeking ways that they can create unique images from scratch rather than using stock photography to tell their story. Hand-drawn or illustrated images can be tailored to match your messaging in a more thoughtful way that will have your clients singing your praises. Still, that stock library you have can be put to good use. Save some time by grabbing a vector image as a starting point and then tweaking it to meet your needs.

Smoother Transitioning

No one likes to feel like they’re just reading a “Click Next”-style text dump. It’s the bane of any eLearning designer. On the opposite side of that, it’s possible to overload your user with meaningless whizzbang visuals (see minimalism). One of the things good web developers talk about is trying to optimize interstitial anxiety, meaning that you try to reduce the tension between taking an action and giving a response to it. For example, you would want some sort smooth visual transition between clicking the Next button and moving to the next slide of the course. In a way, it’s the difference between your typical PowerPoint Presentation versus something you might see done with Prezi. (Side note: If you’re a heavy PowerPoint user and haven’t had a chance to look at PowerPoint Zoom, you should take a gander.) It’s a minor consideration, but one that helps to create a better user experience overall.

Modular Layouts

Take the opportunity to break up your content into easy-to-handle chunks. As any good instructional designer will tell you, big text blocks are a big no-no. Make the information small, and make it interactive. It will help to both keep it interesting and fun!

Pantone’s Color of the Year

Greenery, 2017 Color of the Year

It’s always important to keep up with color trends, and Pantone is the authority on color these days. They’ve declared Greenery (15-0343) as the shade to see just about every which-way there is for the next year. Described as “symbolic of new beginnings,” it’s an encouraging color to incorporate into your eLearning course. Find it and numerous accompanying color swatches on Pantone’s site.

These are just some of the big eLearning design trends I’ll be paying attention to this year. What are some of the big ones you’re looking at? Let us know in the comments!

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