Guest post by Jennifer Valley. Jennifer is an Instructional Designer with five years of experience. She enjoys blogging, social media, and researching.
Creating visually appealing content was something I struggled with when I first started in Instructional Design. I didn’t feel like I had the “eye” and wasn’t sure where to start. One of my Graphic Designer friends introduced me to the elements of eLearning design and principles of design, which really helped refine my work. The elements of eLearning design consist of the use of line, color, shape, value, space, size and texture within a project. The principals of design include the concepts of contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity. The principal that stuck with me first was alignment. It was something I could visually see and fix.
In Lectora you have the basic alignment tools of right, left, top, bottom, center and middle in the Status Bar. These are great buttons to incorporate into every day use.
However, there will come a time when your template adjusts the true middle of the working area, you have to maintain a certain border around a whole course, or [insert really any relevant design struggle you may have]. That’s where Grids and Guides come in. With these tools turned on you can easily see special relationships between objects and create a working area that’ll make you more productive and able to create simple and clean designs.
The first step in utilizing Grids and Guides is to turn them on. From within your open title in Lectora, navigate to the View tab. Here you’ll see the section Grid and Guide where you can show grids, show guides, show ruler, turn on the snap to grid feature, and turn on the snap to guide feature. With the recent version 12 updates you’ll now be able to add a new guide, clear all guides or use additional options. Within the options menu adjust the total squares or color. They also promote improved guide handling which I would have to agree on.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Try turning on the grid, guide and ruler to see which one (two or three) you gravitate towards most.
With your grid, guide, and/or ruler turned on the next step is to determine what the layout of your project is going to be. Hopefully during the storyboard process this was nailed down, however if you’re working on a prototype you may be acting more on intuition. A common struggle that most Instructional Designer and eLearning Developers face is the incorporation of branding and templates. Usually these pieces are clunky and take away some working space. The first thing I like to do is to outline my working area with a “No Go Zone”. I’m defining the area of the No Go Zone as the white space in between your template and working area.
To add a guide either select Add Guide then choose horizontal or vertical, or grab and drag from the ruler down or over. Use the handle to move the guide around. If at any time you need to clear all the guides select the Clear Guides option in the menu.
Another great place to start is to break out your working area into the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a design principal also known as the golden ration. The principals state that in order to have optimized composition a picture, design, film, painting or paragraph should be divided into nine equal parts.
Tip: Grid, Guides and the ruler aren’t visible after publishing!
Now that you have the grids where you want them it’s time to start adding content. In the principals of the rule of thirds, the middle two intersections are known as the power point or crashing point. To get maximum impact place visuals and text in these two areas.
Tip: You can easily snap an object to the closest grid by turning on the snap to grid feature in the menu.
So now that you known the basics try using grids in your next project!
What eLearning design tips would you like to include? Share with us your thoughts in comments below.