DESIGN: More Than Colour Schemes & Fonts

Josh Stoner | 03/18/2016

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When it comes to designing a course, focusing on the content as well as the audience is important.  

When thinking of design, our minds tend to default to a visual array of images, colours, fonts and layouts.  There is nothing incorrect with this mind-set, however, when it comes to overall design there are some additional considerations when establishing suitable schemes for the learning audiences.  

Design should:

Be Built on Relevancy

The process of design should be focused on understanding the needs of our audience.  In doing so, you should understand:

  • The device or devices a user group will be using
  • Accessibility needs, visual and/or hearing impairment
  • Experience levels with the subject
  • Technical experience for supportive learning and progression through a course

In understanding the audience, you can tailor the experience to better suit them. This includes; establishing interactivity that supports the experience, comprehension and progression of visual information.

Focus on a Clutter-Free Experience

Content, imagery and menu items should contrast to balance user comprehension. When designing, you should focus on the accessibility and ease of use, ensuring you guide users through the course, whilst also allowing them to access supplementary information. 

Focusing on a clutter-free environment can help establish visual focal points of interest in the process of learning. Remember, white space is your best friend in content design. 

Learning new skills in itself can be a challenge, so you shouldn’t make it more of a challenge for your students through a cluttered design. An age-old statement stands true here: less is more. 

Maintain Visual Consistency

Visual elements should be tied together, whether they are presented on the same screen or different screens throughout a course.  Many levels of consistency, such as:

  • Content grouping
  • Colours use
  • Image use
  • Iconography
  • Visual layouts
  • Hierarchy of presented visuals

should be maintained throughout the courses.  Colour consistency does not refer to just using the same colours, but using colours consistently in their associated context.  For example, presenting hyperlinked text throughout a course with a consistent colour and style.

Imagery used throughout a course should maintain a consistent look and feel throughout. Mismatched images will stick out and create a distraction that may disorient a user from the particular context associated with that screen.

Fonts should also be used consistently. This includes; space, size and stylisation. This will establish learning comprehension through grouping and hierarchy.

Balance Audio with Visuals

This concept seems itself very simplistic, however, it is still worthy of being stressed for design considerations.  The combination of audio within a course is very common, typically as narration of content.

Potential problems, such as the use of music, could deter a user’s attention from the content they should be focusing on, or it may cause narration playing in parallel to be difficult to understand.  The use of sound effects could enhance features of a course, but it is best to be conscious of over-use.

Optimise Functionality

Often overlooked, a key component of design includes optimising the functionality of a course. 

What exactly does this mean? 

A course’s interactivity should be validated as functioning properly and functioning with purpose. Purposeful interactivity should provide user engagement that is somewhat expected and feels natural, rather than interactivity that leads to disrupted learning and confusion.  


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Josh Stoner

Josh is a Content Developer with Cursim