Design Tips

The overall goal of instructional design is to make it as easy as possible for the learner to work out the hierarchy of information on the page and discard what is unnecessary. When a course is designed properly, you reduce the user's cognitive load, which in turn increases their retention rate. 

The biggest step forward here is having content that has been written for use online and for your particular audience. Once you have the content ready, you need to figure out how to lay it out, illustrate it, and create interactions that support the key objectives for that course. 

Top 10 Course Design Tips


Keep it clean

When you start to put your material online, it is tempting to load the pages with as much as possible. In fact, it is more important to take the time to remove the unnecessary elements and keep the essentials only. If it doesn’t directly add to the learning experience, leave it out. This is our opportunity to decode the information for the learner.


Consistent theme

Use a consistent page layout that helps the learner feel comfortable in the space. This requires a clear hierarchy (title, sub-title, text - all treated the same way on every slide in terms of font, size and colour). The dark grey colour of the font in the modules has been chosen specifically because it is easy to read online. The white background is also important for online reading.


White space

Empty space is essential for good design and a successful learning experience. A real case of less is more. White spaces on the page allow the learner to see the important information and decreases their cognitive load. Don’t try to fit too much onto each page. Leave a margin around the content and don’t crowd the content. If a page appears too full, consider splitting the content onto two pages.


Limit text

Reading text can be an intense exercise. Keep your paragraphs to a size that is easily absorbed. Create breaks in the text where it seems logical. If there is a lot of supporting information you would like the learner to read, insert a pdf of the full text and refer to the key points on the screen. You could also consider conveying the information with a short video.


Avoiding clutter

Placing too many randomly aligned text boxes on the screen can confuse many learners because they are forced to do too much decoding on the page. Also, too many font types and colours will create the same distraction.


Titles and sub-titles

It is important to keep titles short and informative. They should give your learner a clear idea of what to expect on the page. Simple and precise is key in this area.


Images and media

Great images can add a lot of impact to the page and help to create interest for the learner. Your images and graphics need to be a suitable resolution - blurry images will create an unprofessional feel. Try to avoid clipart. If you need help sourcing images, please let your account manager know. As visual learning is a powerful tool, consider images for learning rather than decoration. As much as possible, have the images look as though they are embedded rather than 'clipped' on.


Keep it engaging

Vary the interactions and media. Make sure any graphics, such as charts or diagrams, are easy to understand and to the point. At the same time, don’t overload the page with too many media elements. Use a variety of different interactions within each module and try to include other media, such as images (both diagrams and pictures), animations and videos.


The material must be accurate

Content needs to be reviewed by your content experts to check for relevance and accuracy. Learners will disengage from any content they believe to be incorrect.


Take care with the length

Smaller pieces of information are easier to process and remember. You want to make sure the module length is kept to a manageable size. If it is an unusually long module, it is recommended that the learner is told this on the first slide or two. Or split in module up if possible.

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