Join Anastasia McCune for an in-depth discussion in this video Why you should pay attention to aesthetics, part of Visual Aesthetics for Elearning.
- [Narrator] Aesthetics, as it relates to graphic design today has come to refer to the visual attractiveness and cohesiveness of a work. Often this means utilizing one or more of the elements and principles of design which will apply to e-learning in this course. Why should we pay attention to aesthetics when creating e-learning? In short, because well-designed things are perceived positively and because a good design makes it easier to learn. You've probably heard the expression, "Don't judge a book by it's cover," but in reality, most people probably do.
The truth is, we're visual creatures, appealing designs can increase positive emotions and motivation because they speak to our appreciation of beauty. We just know that visually attractive things are more fun and more interesting to look at. When talking about web design, Max Steenbergen writes, "If the application doesn't have some kind of aesthetic "value, it will not only fail to attract the user's attention, it will also fail to hold the user's attention." And this seems intuitive and relevant to e-learning, as well.
While consuming e-learning, would you rather look at a screen full of bullet points or a screen that communicates the same information in a more visually appealing interesting way? Which one do you think is more likely to elicit more interest, if not effort, on the part of the learner to internalize what's being said? Good design also communicates more than words. It communicates a mood or a feel that goes beyond the content in the design. As an instructional designer, you know this. When creating the look and feel of a course, you try to match the visual design with the theme of the company or the purpose of thee training.
Design also affects perceived credibility. If viewing an e-learning course where the visuals feel throw together, maybe with mismatch clipart or graphics, what impression does that leave on the learner about how important it is to pay attention to what's in the course? What farther reaching impression does that leave about the credibility of the content or the credibility and professionalism of the training sponsor? Stanford University's persuasive technology lab has compiled a list of 10 guidelines for building web credibility, many of which pertain to e-learning, as well.
Guideline number six states that, "We find that people "quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. "When designing you site, pay attention to layout, "typography, images, consistency issues, and more." Aside from the visual appeal and credibility standpoints, paying attention to aesthetics is worthwhile because it can take away the burn in of the mechanics of learning, meaning effective design is usable. Intuitive table of contents, navigation controls, and other ways learners move through material can make a huge impact on their experience.
William Horton, a longtime leader in the field of e-learning, points out the importance of effective visual design for e-learning by saying, "e-learning communicates visually. "Yet visual design is often ignored or treated as "a minor cosmetic detail. "Frequently e-learning content is jut dropped into "the default template provided by an authoring tool. "Learners generally do not notice good visual design. "you don't get email messages praising the legibility "of text or the precise visual hierarchy of your displays. "Visual design is only noticed if learners cannot find "critical material or cannot figure out how to navigate "the course.
"Or they cannot read without excessive eyestrain, "or critical information is out of site when needed. "Or they must continually uncover windows or scroll "back and forth. "Good visual design is about solving problems, "not drawing attention." In essence, good design is an invisible design. It works so easily that the user doesn't have to think about it. Consider your own experience with a well-designed product. Have you ever enjoyed using a new app that you can just pick up and use? Or a product that works without having to look at the manual.
A positive emotional state is created by that experience, which carries over to your judgment of the product. People judge things by feelings, just as they judge by facts. Evidence for the power of thoughtful design comes in what's known as the aesthetic usability effect. This describes a phenomenon in which beautiful objects are perceived to be easier to use than ugly objects, whether they are or not. An example is with two mobile phones that require the same number of steeps and the same amount of time to perform various functions.
The more aesthetically pleasing phone is perceived to be easier to use. In other words, the more aesthetically pleasing a product is, the more usable it becomes, even if it isn't. When it comes to usability perception is reality. Similarly, learners make judgments about their experiences based on how easy materials are to use and process. A learner will be more attentive and engaged with highly usable attractive materials, compared with those that are frustrating or unappealing.
Effective visual design impacts learning success. So why should you pay attention to aesthetics and your e-learning projects? Because effective visual design helps e-learning convey an accurate message in form and content. It also helps course look and feel professional and effortless to use and makes the content attention grabbing and attention keeping so your learners can learn.
- Why you should pay attention to aesthetics
- Power design principles for elearning
- Contrast, repetition, alignment, unity, and simplicity
- Selecting colors and a typeface
- Working with type technically
- White space
- Tips and tricks you can use today
- Using grids, style guides, and templates