Our guest blogger, Ant Pugh, brings us a list of great resources for designing creative and engaging elearning courses.
Happy New Year everyone! Throughout the last few years of building presentations and subsequently elearning courses, I have been noting down the web addresses of any sites that I have found to be useful for picking out assets to use. Through sourcing the correct style of graphics, icons, fonts, colour schemes and backgrounds, 50% of the job as a course designer is done before you start. (well maybe not 50%, but it puts me in the right mindset to get started if it ‘feels’ right)
I like to create a style board before I start designing the course, and create a mock up slide that I can use with my client before I begin, ensuring that they are happy with the way the course will look, and ensuring that I don’t have to go back later and change hundreds of slides.
So here we go! My top ten websites for finding elearning and presentation design assets:
- Morguefile – one of my favourite techniques for creating powerful messages within both my PowerPoint presentations and learning modules is to use a large photo with a large message. One golden rule of slide design, taught to me by one of my heroines Nancy Duarte, is to stick to one message per slide. And by using a powerful image, the message stamps a distinctive print onto the brain of the learner.
- Icon Finder – I like to keep the style of my icons uniform throughout my courses, this gives a really professional touch to my slides and keeps the learner aware of what they need to click on to access the information they need. I stumbled across Icon Finder and found an incredible range of professionally designed icons. The beauty of the site is the ability to find an icon you like, and then see all the other slides in that design series.
- Subtle patterns - as you may have seen in my previous blog on backgrounds, I love using subtle patterns for designing my slide backgrounds. This website is constantly being updated with exciting new patterns that can be adjusted to suit your course. Click here to see how to add these patterns with a simple gradient fade.
- Font Squirrel – there really is no more powerful way to add subtle design aspects to your elearning than with the correct font. I generally try and stick to a maximum of 2 different fonts per slide, Font Squirrel has a fantastic range of different fonts that once I have downloaded, I will go on to use in several different courses. They also happen to be free for commercial use which is a bonus!
- Colour Lovers – using a colour palette that works well together is vital in creating the correct feel for a course. Often these colours are defined by corporate limitations. But if you do find yourself in a situation where you can choose how the course looks, then take a look at some of these great colour palettes.
- Daily Wav.com – I am a huge fan of using audio in courses. Whether its music, narration or sound effects, I believe that combining visual stimulus with audio can really provide a powerful impact to your learners. Daily Wav has new audio clips uploaded daily from your favourite TV shows and movies.
- MS Images – now before you groan and start thinking of all that dodgy 90s clip art, just take a look through some of these fantastic images. Best of all, you can download them as layers and manipulate them as you see fit.
- Wikimedia – ha! What a clever play on words! Imagine Wikipedia with less information and more stuff you can use… well I give you Wikimedia, a database of freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.
- Freesound – using some subtle background audio can be a great way to soften a presenter’s voice. I think adding music can be a powerful way to deliver a message and this website has a host of free audio files that you can download and use within your courses.
- Stumble Upon – my last choice is contentious in that it provides a lot more than just design assets. But I have added this website, because it is a fantastic resource for more than just design assets (and be careful, this website has the ability to waste hours of your time!), I have found several extremely useful resources through my stumbling. By selecting ‘Design’ as the search criteria, you can find great assets and resources from all over the web through this handy, free web tool.
Ant Pugh is an eLearning Manager and Instructional Designer based in London, UK.