Webinar Highlights: Visual Design in Digital Learning

14 April

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Webinar Highlights: Visual Design in Digital Learning

Eva Kilar-Magdziarz is a Course Director here at Digital Learning Institute and one of Europe’s leading Digital Learning Specialists with over 18 years’ experience in both Corporate Learning and University Education.

This week Eva held a webinar where she explored the core visual design principles & practices in digital learning, and how these impact learners experience, engagement, and perceptions. Below are some highlights from the session.

UXDL & Visual Design

People usually process & retain visual information better than its written form. User Experience Design for Learning (UXDL) encompasses everything that has to do with design in digital learning, resulting in its popularity as a buzzword in the L&D sector recently. 

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The UXDL Honeycomb Model shows what encompasses the development of a valuable learning experiences with the following key components:

  • Accessible (and UDL principles) being the key to creating an inclusive learning experience.

  • Credible and good-quality content.

  • Navigable meaning it has good navigation.

  • Useful to learners.

  • Desirable being appealing to our feelings, visceral visuals results in better learning and retention.

Initial poor visual design of eLearning can deter learners from progressing on their journey. When alignment of images are off, or the text colour, size and font are not accessible it leads to out of sync elements. If we want to avoid that, a good starting point would be having a brand guideline document.

Analysis of Brand Guidelines

Every company should have a document that establishes their brand guidelines. A set of “rules” which can be used as a guide ideally at the initial stage of any instructional design models such as ADDIE.

Amongst others, brand guidelines should outline the following elements:

  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary colours. Designers should always scope and identify their audience first, as colours can carry different connotations across cultures. Ensure to keep colour contrast and accessibility in mind during this stage.

  • Typography should also be stated, which may highlight which fonts to use and what not to do.

  • There may also be guidelines about the type of images, icons and graphics that should be used and where to source them.

Cognitive Overload

Cognitive overload is how we process information and if it is too overwhelming for the cognitive ability of our brains. For digital learning this should be avoided as much as possible. The points below outline different ways to go about this:

  • On Screen Text: Large element of text can become overwhelming, instead create smaller chunks of text, that are better digested for learners.

  • Visual Hierarchy: Use different fonts and visuals to create a distinct visual hierarchy, which is easier for learners to approach.

  • Contrast & Fonts: Accessible, contrasting colours and easily legible fonts can also aid in reducing cognitive overload. Some accessible fonts are Times New Roman, Calibri, Ariel, Helvetica, and Verdana. Although they are not exciting, they will allow for the most accessible design.

  • Background: When using a video as a background, add a solid colour ribbon to contain text, rather than straight on a busy background.

  • Images: Should be high quality, not pixelated, centralised, and not stretched or skewed.

To Sum Up

  • Use basic C.R.A.P principles when designing visual content. Read our blog which discusses C.R.A.P in further detail, and click here to read more about Visual Design.

  • Refer to your company’s brand guidelines.

  • Ensure your design is accessible.


We would like to express our gratitude to Eva Kilar-Magdziarz for sharing her valuable knowledge & insights with us.

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