Creating an e-learning style guide for your courses is like laying out the rules for how future courses will look. While some individuals will contend that a style guide cramps their freedom of expression, there are many good reasons to put one in place. An e-learning style guide:
- ensures a polished and professional output,
- provides a consistent look and feel across courses,
- is an easy reference document for developers,
- encourages use of best practices,
- saves time—meaning less time wasted reviewing and editing design choices.
Creating a style guide is particularly helpful for organizations in which many people in many departments are building training, but projects need to have consistency.
What to Include?
Once you decide to create an e-learning style guide, you’ll need to consider what to include.
The logo is an important visual piece of any brand. Your style guide should explain where and when to use the logo. You might also set specifications for the acceptable size, placement, and/or color variations for the logo. It’s always helpful to show examples of correct use.
Most organizations have a few fonts they prefer or feel reflect their corporate personality. Your style guide should outline which fonts to use for which purpose. For example, you might always use a chunky heading font for lesson titles and a simple sans-serif for the body text on your slides.
Tone or Voice
Every company has a different corporate voice, whether it’s professional and serious or whimsical and fun, and that should come through in the materials. Share a few example paragraphs that are in line with the brand, and maybe words or phrases to be avoided.
How a color looks varies from one monitor to the next, so it’s important to provide actual hex values for your color scheme. You may specify whether your company allows various tints or shades of the colors, and where specific colors are required.
Photographic style can be a huge reflection of a specific brand, so consider including guidelines about which types of images to use, or whether designers should choose from any specific photographers or stock image series.
This could include things like rules for how to name courses, modules, lessons, assessments, activities, etc., as well as how to capitalize and punctuate lists, and whether to use numbers as numerals or spelled out in full.
If you have a standard look for buttons, include it in the style guide, as well as tips for which buttons to use for what activities.
If you’ve created PowerPoint or Articulate Storyline templates, your style guide is a great place to let people know where to download them. You can also include screenshots with simple instructions for various types of slides or activities. Consider creating a template player skin and making it available for download.
Depending on your organization and your projects, you might have other items to include in your style guide—tips for navigation flow or instructions for naming variables, for example. Anything that shows up or is used across multiple courses should be considered for the style guide.
- Don’t be too strict. Remember to leave a bit of wiggle room for creativity and originality.
- Be helpful, not condescending. Your goal is to create awesome-looking courses.
- Show examples of what to do and what not to do. Examples are super-helpful!
Remember: a style guide is a great way to ensure consistency in your look and feel across multiple projects. What would you include in your own e-learning style guide? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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