The importance of good design

Artsy image that contains the text the importance of good design.

I’m an instructional designer, not a graphic designer, but the truth is, I have to be a little bit of a graphic designer.  That’s because design matters so much to the learning process.  I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic multiple times over the lifetime of this blog, but in this post, I’ll be focusing on just how important it is to make sure your graphic design (or lack thereof) doesn’t prevent people from taking your materials seriously.

When I was first learning to use Articulate Storyline, I made a module that contained this slide:

Yes, the rest of the module looked like what you are thinking.

Now, I obviously knew this wasn’t great!  At that point, I had not yet figured out how to configure the color scheme of test question slides.  And I hadn’t given much thought to my color scheme. But I thought that was a minor problem… one that I didn’t really need to fuss over. 

I was having trouble with some triggers earlier in the module, and I shared it with a professional development group I’m part of to get some help… but people were so distracted by the astonishing/painful color scheme I’d managed to stumble into that all of the feedback I got was about my graphic design “choices.”  It was only after I rebuilt the module, using better sense and taste, that people could focus on other issues long enough to help me figure out what I was doing wrong with the triggers.

And that is how I learned an important lesson.  If the graphic design is bad enough, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to see past it.  Bad graphic design will bury clever ideas, it will hide good instructional design, and it will ensure that otherwise useful materials go unused.

Now I make sure to think about my design choices from the beginning.  I hope that I shall not create a monstrosity such as the one described in this post again.