I’ve gone back and forth so many times on creating e-learning design briefs before I start a project. Sometimes, you just don’t have the time: projects need to get done, productivity becomes priority and we sacrifice effectiveness for ‘done-ness’. But as I continue to create e-learnings that capture the attention of learners, I find that investing the time to create an e-learning design brief is absolutely worth it.

When I can, I try to create a visual guide – or a design brief – for planning the aesthetics of the trainings that I design. Call me detail-oriented, but even for myself, I’m way more engaged when someone has taken the time to coordinate colors and ‘set the mood’ of an e-learning rather than throwing a whole bunch of visual assets together and calling it done. Most e-learnings, by nature, need to hold a learner’s attention for 10 – 15 minutes at a time, so ensuring that your learner’s visual senses are stimulated is a worth the time when you’re designing an e-learning.

I’ve also found creating a visual design brief handy in situations where an e-learning ends up becoming part of a larger series, like introducing individual products are a part of a product launch, or a part of an entire curriculum, such as an on-boarding curriculum. In this case, you can brand the curriculum and use the corresponding colors in each e-learning or make each part of the series a different color, but with similar themes (use the same characters, use similar shapes, slide background templates, etc.) to keep people interested, but a common design theme running through.

When I began putting these types guides together, I looked for templates, but they always fell short of what I needed. For instance, I think planning what types of animation you’ll use throughout an e-learning is important. Sure it’s fun to experiment and mix it up, but for a more professional, polished end-product, it’s easier on the eye to stick with 3 – 4 animation styles. Same with timing…With Articulate Storyline, you can dictate how fast or slow an object enters the screen. But depending on your voice-over track, or music, or timing, you may want to speed up or slow down the animation. It may seem like overkill, but keeping consistency in most object entrances and exits are part of the overall design and play an important part in keeping the learner engaged.

So with all of that being said, over the years, I’ve created my own e-learning design brief templates that help me to frame up the visual aesthetics and the elements that must be considered to design an epically effective e-learning module.

I’ve included a copy of it here! I hope it inspires you to make your own and consider these little elements that, overall, add to the effectiveness of your e-learning and the engagement of your learner!