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Welcome to Part 2 of my 5 Tips to Rock the Learner Experience in Your Online Courses blog post series.

This blog post series explores learner experience design from a range of perspectives. Learner experience design is the process of creating online learning that provides meaningful and personally relevant experiences for online learners. Course creators should familiarize themselves with learner experience design if they are serious about creating profitable, high-value online courses.

Why? Because if you aren’t designing your courses with the learner in mind, then who the heck are you designing them for?

The learner experience is the heart and soul of instructional design.

And, not only that, the online course market is getting more competitive. So if you want high converting courses, then you too need to design for the learner experience.

So today we’re going to explore some basic tenants of visual design that will help you significantly improve the visual experience for students in your online courses.

But before we start, just a quick recap.

In Part 1 of this series, we dissected the Course Kick-Off Experience. Today we delve into the Course Visual Experience. And in the remaining posts in this series we’ll cover:

  • Part III – The Course Instructional Experience

  • Part IV – The Course Social Experience

  • Part V – The Course Instructor Presence Experience (Mentoring and
    Support)

Right. Let’s roll.

Tip #2 – The Course Visual Experience

Online course creators have to acquire visual design skills. Period. There is no way around this.

I’m not saying that an online course creator needs the same degree of visual design mastery as a graphic designer, web designer, or visual artist, but I am asserting that course creators need at least basic proficiency in visual design and visual literacy.

Without at least some basic competency in these areas, the quality of their course structure, course content, and overall course experience for their students will be diminished. And students who don’t feel engaged in their online courses are far less likely to complete [their] online courses or to enroll in future courses with that same course creator.

By now you may be wondering what you can do to engage your learners through the visual design of your courses. There are some simple ways for you to achieve this goal.

Basically, you need to do two things.

First, you need to make use of four basic technology skills. Then, you need to learn how to apply the four basic principles of design to the content you create for your courses. And if you have existing courses, you can revise the content by applying these tech skills and basic design principles.

Okay, so first things first. Let’s start by diving into the four basic technology skills.

The Four Basic Technology Skills are:

Skill #1 – The ability to create clickable links from content pages in your online courses to external content (at point of need)

Skill #2 – The ability to integrate multimedia into your course content

Skill #3 – The ability to use typography and white space to enhance the readability of course content

Skill #4 – The ability to embed and/or display content (at point of need) in your course

Simply applying these four basic technology skills will significantly enhance your learners visual experience in your online course.

Why? What’s the significance of these four skills?

Well, for starters, by applying these four skills, your online courses will look far less cluttered, which has the added benefit of making them easier to navigate.

Again, you have to approach course design from the learners’ perspective. A course that is inundated with content with a gazillion lessons to click through in each learning unit or module is going to overwhelm students, even if you drip the content. So be sure to simplify the content access and the visual layout and display of the content in your online courses.

See the example below.

See, it’s fairly simple. Now, let’s move on to review the Four Principles of Design.

The Four Principles of Design are as follows:

  • Proximity – group related elements together

  • Alignment – everything on a page should have a connection with the other items on the page

  • Repetition – design for consistency by repeating some aspect of the design throughout the entire work

  • Contrast – differentiate similar elements through the use of fonts, color, size, etc.

The basic concepts of these principles are simple and easy to understand. Putting them into practice takes just that, practice. I also think that the easiest way to master these concepts is to compare and contrast to non-examples to examples. Go take a quick peek at Garr Reynolds’ website and then run over to Szaboka.com to see these four design principles in action. Once you review their work, I think you’ll get it.

Okay, that wraps things up for Part 2 of this five part learner experience series. Be sure to tune for Part 3 – The Course Instructional Experience where we’ll explore some basic pedagogical methods and practices that will support your students’ instructional experience in your courses.

Please share your visual design for online learning tips in the comments section below. Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you.

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