Why Visual Design Is Critical In eLearning

Why Visual Design Is Critical In eLearning
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Summary: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever…” said John Keats in the eighteenth century. In the twenty-first century, it has become much more relevant. We humans are naturally attracted to beauty in everything, be it a natural landscape, a painting, a sculpture, or even learning content!

Visual Design In eLearning

Yes, it's true. Learning content can also be beautiful—and visual designers are the people we should thank.

Why Is Visual Design Important In The Learning Industry, And Especially In eLearning?

A very important factor for learning to happen is the motivation of learners. According to Keller’s ACRS principle of motivational learning, the first element that motivates learners is attention. What grabs attention more than a piece of great visual design? The same content can come to life if it is designed in a visually immaculate way rather than as plain, simple content. While learning still happens at the core through content, visual design plays one of the most significant roles in keeping learners hooked on a course.

The eLearning sector distinguishes itself from traditional learning content in its visual and interactive design. So, the role of a visual designer becomes even more important for an eLearning service provider. Visual designers play a key role in eLearning content in several ways:

  • Presentation of content
    The importance of presenting attractive content cannot be reiterated enough in words. Visual design is arguably one of the primary drivers ensuring the effectiveness of learning. Visual designers make courses presentable and learning effective. There is a reason people say that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is the duty of visual designers to make it a reality.
  • Aid learning
    It is a well-known fact that a major chunk of learners are visual learners. This means they learn best when content is presented visually. The role of visual designers becomes even more important in this respect. The effectiveness of learning content is manifold when it is aided by great visual design. A good visual designer always thinks about the user's perspective and designs the content in such a way that learners can feel a personal connection. This ultimately helps with learner engagement and better learning outcomes.
  • Leverage creativity
    No doubt visual designers are one of the most creative people out there. Visual designers can actively contribute to the Instructional Design in order to design great courses that create the maximum learning impact.

Visual Design And Learning Experience

We have moved into an era where learning is not seen as an isolated, mandatory activity. Learning nowadays is seen as a part of life and a lifelong process. Learning is now being treated as a life experience. No wonder Learning Experience Design is the future of the learning domain. When we talk about the learning experience, a prime component of it is visual design:

  • Design that inspires learning
  • Design that leaves a lasting impact
  • A learning experience that is not only intellectually enriching but also emotionally appealing

None of these are even remotely possible without the help of visual designers. It is rightly said that visual design has the capability to make or break a great learning experience.  As eLearning is a visual medium of instruction, any learning experience without great visual design is bound to be ineffective, if not fail. eLearning courses must leverage the true potential of visual design, and the onus lies with none other than the visual designer.

Visual Design And The Psychology Of Instruction

In addition to the innate ability to gain attention, visual design also plays a critical role in enhancing learning elements in several ways. Some these include, but are not limited to:

  • An appropriate visual layout for learning content and User Interface
  • Suitable graphical cues
  • Intuitive navigation and minimization of wordy slides
  • Use of media to aid multi-channel learning

The principles of Prägnanz, as formulated by the great learning psychologists of Gestalt, emphasize the role of visual perception, which can be utilized to enhance learning. Gestalt’s principles are widely used to enhance the effectiveness of learning through the use of visual elements.

A Word Of Caution

With so many advantages, visual designers run the risk of going overboard with a visual strategy that suppresses the actual learning content. It is critical to remember that the ultimate goal of learning and visual design should enhance learning content rather than suppress it.


There is no doubt that visual design plays a critical role in eLearning development. This makes it even more important for visual designers to take responsibility and create a great learning experience.