Let's Debate: Photo & Illustrations in One Course?

Jun 08, 2022


I went to a session at Learning Con 2022 and there was some discussion about making courses visually appealing. I have to say that I've gotten much better at visual design. However, one thing I'm curious about is the debate over whether you can include both illustrations and photographs in one course? There was a bit of smoke around the idea that it's bad business to include both. Is it really that bad?

I tend to lean more towards illustrations and GIFs because I think they make a course feel more engaging and fresh. I veer toward photographs when the subject matter is very serious (think anxiety in epilepsy).  However, graphic design is not my area of expertise. I'm a learning-outcome-first kind of designer.  I've learned more about design along the way so I'm always happy to learn more.

Just want to hear what the masses think.

Thank you!



4 Replies
Tom Kuhlmann

Good question. I think illustrations and photo imagery can go together, but it depends on what the design is. Ultimately, the design is intentional and the objects onscreen are part of a cohesive look. 

Where most people have issues is the Frankencourse look where it's a hodge podge of incongruent imagery, like clipart with an Unsplash photo. 

Tracy Carroll

I agree with Tom--the look needs to be intentional, rather than haphazard. I've seen lots of everything-including-the-kitchen-sink slides in my day! 

You might try looking at some of the recap examples from this challenge, to see what you think works well, and what does not:

Mixing Photo and Illustration Examples in E-Learning Design #312

Math Notermans

Basically all depends on your overall design and style. Some work well combining illustrations and photos...even on 1 slide. Others donot. Design for elearning is a trade in itself. Its often overlooked and a instructional designer or developer not always has the creative experience to create top-notch elearning design. Also a graphic designer or print designer doesnot always have what it takes to create good interactive and/or elearning design. All can be learnt, but takes time.