One of my favorite features in Articulate Storyline 2 is its silky smooth interface. It doesn’t take much time at all to build out some really great interactions, like a tabs interaction. The key is to leverage a combination of the Storyline 2 shortcut keys, alignment options, and new tools.

Say you need to create a tabs interaction with four buttons that, when clicked, will show four different pictures. Your boss wants you to use certain colors for the design based off an image, and wants you to apply nice effects to the buttons. Headache? Piece of cake! I’ll first take you through the shortcuts and steps you’ll need to build this quickly, and then review the process in a video at the end.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Storyline

Keyboard shortcuts are the starting point for building anything quickly, such as a tabs interaction. When I started using PowerPoint, I watched a Tom Kuhlmann video where he quickly duplicated an object several times and wondered, “How did he do that?” I was still right-clicking, selecting, and then right-clicking again and pasting. It turns out that Tom was using a keyboard shortcut.

It’s so much faster to select an object and then use the CTRL-D (duplicate) shortcut on your keyboard. Admittedly, breaking the right-click, copy-paste habit is hard. But once you do, you’ll increase your speed tremendously—which will help you build your tabs interaction quickly.

Use Buttons for Your Tabs

Let’s use this shortcut in our first step of adding buttons to your slide. Though you can use any shape for your buttons, the fastest way is to use the built-in buttons, because they come with built-in states for the effects your boss wants.  Also, when you add a button, Storyline anticipates that you probably want to do something with that button, so it automatically creates a trigger that’s ready for you to finish (this is another key element to creating quickly).

For the four buttons you need on your slide, your goal is to add one button and then use the CTRL-D shortcut to duplicate that button three times. Obviously, you’re not going to want buttons piled on top of each other, so simply take the last one you created and move it down the slide roughly the distance of four buttons (see below).

This is the one area where you’ll need to guesstimate a little at first, and then adjust later. And that’s okay.

Align Your Objects

Now that your buttons are on the slide, you need to arrange them so they’re in a nice column.  The alignment tools make simple work of this:

Now, look back at your buttons: three are clumped together and one is all alone. Here’s where the “Select All” keyboard shortcut (CTRL-A) is handy, to align the buttons. Use your shortcut to select all four buttons and then go to the Format tab, click the Align icon, and select Align Left (CTRL-A > select objects > Format tab > Align icon > Align Left). Then, while the objects are still selected, go back to the Align icon and choose “Align Vertical.” This will space the objects evenly between the highest and lowest button on the slide. Use your eye as a guide—you may need to adjust this a bit if you left too much or too little space when you pulled your first button down on the slide.

Once your buttons are aligned, it’s helpful to name them (on the button itself or in the timeline). This small step will help you identify them faster when you’re ready to set up your triggers.

Try the New Storyline 2 Eyedropper Tool

Now, your color scheme is supposed to come from the image your boss gave you. Using the new Eyedropper tool in Storyline 2, you can quickly grab a color from the image to apply to your button. So in this case, we double-click the first button to open up the Format tab, select “Button Fill,” and choose the Eyedropper tool. Then, use the Eyedropper tool to choose a color from the image. Once you do, Storyline 2 applies the color to your button.

Leverage the Format Painter in Storyline 2

Rather than go through this same process for each of the other buttons, you can save time with Storyline’s Format Painter. This tool lets you copy the attributes of one object to another. In this case, we’re going to select our newly colored button, click the Home tab, and double-click the Format Painter. Then, simply click on the other buttons to match the color of the first. Easy!

Add Slide Layers

With our buttons finished, we need to add our images, which will reside on separate slide layers. For four images, we’ll need four layers.

Usually when you’re working with slide layers, it’s a good practice to find shared elements between your layers and then methodically copy your layers and add elements as you need. In this case, since we’re only adding one image to each layer, you can skip the build-copy-add cycle and simply add your four new slide layers. Just click the new layer icon located at the bottom of the Slide Layers panel and name (or number) the layers so they pair up with the buttons. This will expedite things later, when you add the triggers.

Use the Change Picture Tool

Now it’s time to add images to our layers. Select the first layer and insert your picture, resize it, and place it in the desired location on your slide. Once it’s set, copy and paste the image to the other three layers. Try the shortcut keys CTRL-C to copy and then CTRL-V to paste.

But wait, you’re supposed to have a different picture on each layer, right? No problem. Simply right-click and use the Change Picture tool to swap them out in a snap. From the menu, select “Change Picture,” which will open a browser window where you can navigate to a different picture. Select a new image to replace the existing image.

This is where staging (organizing) your course assets can be a big time saver. You see, once you insert the first picture, Storyline will automatically go back to that same folder when you right-click and select “Change Picture. So if your four images are all in the same folder, you can switch them out quite rapidly.

Add Your Triggers

Almost done! It’s time to add your triggers. Since we used built-in buttons, you’ll notice that there are triggers in the trigger panel just waiting to be finished. And since we named our buttons and layers, this will be simple. Just go to each button’s trigger and instruct it to show the appropriate layer when the button is clicked.  

And that’s it! Watch the video below for a walkthrough (and even more tips) and then give it a go. How quickly can you build out a similar tabs interaction? Post your time and timesaving tips in the comments below. Ready, set, go!

Want to give it a try but don’t have Articulate software? Go ahead and download a free trial. And don’t forget to come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.