How to Apply Design Principles to Online Learning Content Strategy

Gretchen Steenstra | 03.21.14
Topics: Web - Mobile - Social

Here's one of the greatest ideas I learned at my first ASAE Great Ideas Conference last week: K.I.S.S. You creative types out there probably already know this acronym, and I hope you'll add your tips in the comments. This post is dedicated to everyone else out there who didn't go to design school!

Tips for Creating Online Learning Content Strategy that Works

In Tracy King's presentation "Next Generation Learning: Keep the Design in Mind," I gained insight about designing forms and pages for online courses. Tracy displayed actual e-learning pages and we discussed elements that were helpful – or distracting. One of the most common problems with the examples we reviewed were very busy pages where the reader cannot find the call to action (what they are supposed to do)!

Here are a few good tidbits I jotted down that I will keep in mind the next time I am designing online learning web pages – or working with a client on such a system. You can find more in her SlideShare presenation.

  • Pages do not have to be fancy. Keep them simple and relevant.
  • Make sure you have enough white space on the page.
  • Use different type and color (but not so much that they're distracting) to help the learner move through the page.
  • To develop a calm look on the page, select colors that are near each other on the color palette.
  • To develop contrast, select colors on the opposite side of the color palette.
  • Limit pop ups. They are very distracting (and might be blocked by the reader's browser, anyway).
  • Make sure navigation and directions are clear. Have a clear call to action – what you want the reader to do next.
  • Use graphics and video to provide visual opportunities.
  • When using graphics, make sure they are clear and relevant. Don't add a graphic just because it seems like a good idea.

When you are developing content pages, include review information from a previous course, if applicable. This helps the online learner build on existing knowledge and resources, creating a continuum of learning. 

Present feedback after a student answers a question. If the question is correct, display supporting information related to the answer. If the answer is incorrect, provide additional information that will help the online learner understand why they missed the question.

When you are developing content pages and you think they are getting a little busy, they are! Stop and simplify!


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