Shaking Up Your Training Backgrounds

Shaking Up Your Training Backgrounds
Summary: Like a good bartender who takes several ingredients, shakes them up, and creates a masterpiece of a drink, sometimes you need to shake things up in your eLearning designs and training backgrounds to create something new and improved.

How To Shake Things Up In Your Training Backgrounds

As I sat looking at our training website one day, I realized that many of our eLearning programs looked almost the same; just different colors, but basically the same style backgrounds. I thought to myself how boring this must seem to our trainees to see almost the same style program each time; just different subjects inside each one. When we were creating them, we were trying to color code the programs based on topic, so many of them utilized the exact same background for each program. I realize now that wasn’t the best idea we ever had from a user’s standpoint, because these training backgrounds created “blah” looking programs that no one could distinguish between.

So I decided to start shaking things up when I performed the yearly updates on each program. My goal was to make training backgrounds more visually appealing and invite learners to want to take a look at them; not just take them because they were mandatory. I turned to the Articulate Weekly Challenges and Tom Kuhlmann’s “The Rapid eLearning Blog” for inspiration. One of the techniques that I discovered during this research, that was very refreshing, was using photos and shapes in PowerPoint to create interesting, colorful, yet relevant training backgrounds. So I decided to use some of the photos we had already been using in the training and try out this same technique in several variations to create some creative backgrounds for our training pieces.

After some creative PowerPoint work, here is what several of the training backgrounds look like now:

                                                So how did this fun new look in PowerPoint come about? It was really pretty easy, even for someone like me who is not a Graphic Designer.

  • Open up PowerPoint and insert any background picture on a blank slide.
  • Then, using the Artistic Effects found under the Format tab, just try various effects until you find one that gives you the look and feel you want. In my case, I used a combination of cartoon and blurred backgrounds.
  • Next, you need to insert a shape. You can use a box shape, but in some cases I liked the look of the rectangles with the rounded corners. These shapes are used to create the area on which you will be placing your text.
  • Choose a color that compliments a color in the background picture when formatting the shape. This will help the final design to look cohesive. You also want your color choices to be ones that you can easily set text on that will be legible and won't cause the text to fade into it. You may have any trainees who have issues distinguishing colors one from another.


You can also use this same technique to create pages for scenario-based training. In most of the scenarios I create our trainees are having conversations with customers or other employees. I usually give the trainee 3 choices to select from when answering the customer or employee. By using the above technique, you can have your spaces in which to place your customer or employee (the photo area) and then three areas to place responses for the employees to choose from (the colored shapes).

These new designs while being fun and modern are also quite functional. They pull the users into the design by allowing them to view something they see every day; their stores, medical offices, etc. as the backgrounds for their learning. This creates a familiarity and comfort level with the training material with the learner, before they even read a word of the training. The more a trainee is at ease, the easier it will be for them to learn what you are trying to teach them.

Now when I look at our training website, much like a well shaken and poured drink, it looks more inviting. All because I took the time to shake things up and use my stock photos in a way I never would have thought to without the inspiration I found from others online.