Have you ever downloaded an e-learning template to repurpose for a project? Was it easy to use and adapt? Or did you find it challenging and confusing to customize? While using templates should make developing easier, if they’re not carefully created they can unintentionally slow you down. 

That’s why it’s so important to design templates with the user experience in mind. Thoughtfully designed templates help provide consistency across projects, speed up development time, and let you focus on what’s important—your content. Let’s take a look at how to create a shareable template that’s easy to customize in Storyline 360.

1. Set Your Slide Size 

When creating a template, start by opening up a new project and editing the story size. The slide size defaults to 720 pixels wide by 540 pixels high, but you can easily edit the slide size to fit your needs. To change the size or the aspect ratio, go to the Design tab and select Slide Size.

I generally use a 16:9 ratio since it’s the most common aspect ratio for computer monitors and videos. If the majority of the courses you or your team create use a different size, be sure to make those changes here. And remember to click Set as Default Size so when you open a new project, it defaults to those dimensions.

By setting up the slide size at the start, you or whoever uses your template won’t have to worry about reworking your slide designs later. 

For more information on choosing your slide size, check out this article: Storyline 360: Setting Your Slide Size.

2. Create Custom Theme Colors

After setting the slide size, it’s time to edit the theme colors. This determines the default color choices for text, shapes, captions, outlines, buttons, and more. 

To edit the theme colors, go to the Design tab, select the Colors drop-down, and click Create New Theme Colors. 

Whether your organization uses specific branding colors or course designers need to create custom palettes for every course they design, making use of the theme color feature can save your team a lot of time. How? It makes it so that if someone using your template wants to apply a different color palette, all they have to do is select it to automatically update all the colors in the template. 

Want to learn more about theme colors? Check out these helpful resources: 

3. Create a Custom Theme Font

E-learning courses generally include a lot of text, which is why selecting theme fonts is so important. Theme fonts control headings, body text, questions, and answer choices. 

To edit the theme fonts, go to the Design tab, select the Fonts drop-down, and then click Create New Theme Fonts.

This completely eliminates the time-wasting task of editing fonts slide by slide when you need to make a change. By setting up and using theme fonts in your template, you or anyone using your template can easily update the heading and body font throughout a course by simply selecting a different theme font.

For more information on how to work with fonts, check out this article: Storyline 360: Working with Theme Fonts.

4. Design the Slides

With theme fonts and theme colors all set up, it’s time to design the slides. There are a few things you can do to ensure your slide designs are easy to customize. Let’s take a look.

Include a variety of slide types

Be sure to include a variety of slide types so there are several options to choose from. Content Library 360 is a great resource to see what slide types are commonly used in templates. 

Use the slide master and feedback master

Creating custom layouts and placeholders on your slide masters and feedback (layer) masters can significantly reduce development time for you and anyone using the template. That’s because when you make a change to your master layouts, Storyline applies that change to every related slide or layer in your project. 

For example, if you included a company logo on the slide master so it’s always visible, but later get a request to change its placement—such as move it from the top right to the top left corner—all you would need to do is move it once and all the slides in your project will automatically update to reflect the new change.   

Apply text styles throughout 

Text styles give you a faster, easier way to control the visual appearance of slide text in your Storyline 360 projects. And they also provide valuable contextual information to screen readers—like whether a piece of text is a heading or a link—which makes using them an easy way to create more accessible courses. 

When setting up the first slide of your template, once you’ve got your text looking the way you want it—font, size, formatting, etc.—use text styles to save the formatting of each type of text—body (normal) or heading—so you can instantly apply it to the rest of your course. 

To apply text styles to your template, navigate to the Home tab, click the Text Styles button, mouse over the style you want to update, then click Update Style from Selection on the sub-menu that appears. 

That way if the person using your template wants to change the heading style—for example, maybe they want to increase the font size—they can edit the text and then simply update the style to reflect those changes throughout the template.

Want more information on working with Text Styles? Check out these resources: 

Name your slide elements

Don’t make the person using your template guess what “Rectangle 45” is or what slide layer “Untitled 1” is for. Take the time to go through and rename objects, layers, and other slide elements so they’re easy to find when you or someone else needs to make changes. Using simple and consistent naming conventions—such as Tab 1, Tab 2, etc.—makes it easier to edit the template and see what items are associated with which actions in the trigger panel. 

Before: Without Custom Names

After: With Custom Names


See what a difference that makes?

5. Customize the Player

Last, but certainly not least, customize the Player settings to what you generally use across projects. To access the player properties, navigate to the Home tab and click Player. 

From there, you can edit and customize the player properties. Since each person and organization has different needs, there are a few things you should consider. For example:

  • Do you want to display the menu and controls? 
  • Are there player tabs you need to include for all your projects? 
  • Which accent or accessibility colors do you or your organization want to use? 
  • Does the company you work for generally include a logo in their courses? 

Go through each of the player settings and make any necessary changes. Since the player settings are saved in the project file, this helps ensure everyone’s using the same options. 

Check out this article to learn how to customize the player: Storyline 360: Working with the Player.

6. Test Your Template

When you’re done, preview everything to make sure it works as expected. See if a coworker can test, review, and try using it. Their feedback can help improve the design or ensure its accuracy and ease of use. After all, your goal is to make a shareable template that anyone can easily customize. 

7. Share Your Template

Once everything looks good, it’s time to share your template. Oftentimes, people will simply share the STORY file with their team. But did you know there’s a better way to share and manage your custom templates so you and your team can easily access and use them? 

Check out this article to learn some best practices about sharing your template: 2 Ways to Share a Custom Storyline 360 Template.

In Summary

That’s all there is to it! Following these steps will help you create Storyline 360 templates that are easy for everyone to use. Do you have any time-saving tips you turn to when building templates in Storyline 360? Please share your ideas in the comment below. 

Ready to start building a course in Storyline 360? Check out these articles to help you work even faster: 

Want to try creating your own custom template, but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

Be the first to comment