When do you use Speech Bubbles?

Sep 06, 2013

Hey everyone!

Two quick question:

  1. When your designs call for callouts, speech bubbles, thought bubbles, etc. of often do you used custom "comic-style" objects as opposed to the default shapes in PPT or Storyline?
  2. If you use custom comic-style, what are the disadvantages or things you don't like about them and what would want/need in your own library?
11 Replies
Cary Glenn

One issue I have run into when using a comic-style speech bubbles is the difficulty with showing a conversation. In comics you can greatly vary the size of a panel, which can adapt to the needs of the conversation, at least to a point. The medium of eLearning is somewhat restrictive in that way.

Steve Flowers

Having an adjustable tail is fantastic but I find the built in bubbles don't give much visual flexibility. The gold standard for speech shapes is way ComicLife works and looks when finished. 

I think you could fake this a bit with a configurable multi-state shape / object in Storyline. I'd almost rather just have a folder full of objects that I can drag into the Story.

David Anderson

It really depends.  For demos, internal projects, and anything that's not designed to showcase elearning projects I go with the built-in boxes. The work well for the most part. I'd still change their colors and formatting

But for any project that's custom or designed to showcase our products, I would create my own--each and every time. I have my "go to" custom captions that work in most cases, but I still find it necessary to create a couple new ones for each project.

Cary brings up a great point about panel size. Since our projects are usually constrained to the same size canvas, we don't have a lot of room to work with more than two or three layouts on one slide.

I don't do a lot with custom formats or styles. I think subtle transparent variations on black and white captions work in nearly all cases.

Kevin Thorn

It's the cart/horse debate and really situation dictates as all of you noted above. For various reasons, it depends on what 'works' using default callout shapes in PPT or Storyline. I agree that adjustable tail is the best feature, but restricted otherwise.

When I created the recent graphic novel style comic project, I *think* I created 337 custom speech bubbles. To Steve's point about just having a library to go to in a pinch, I don't know that I'll ever use all of them again.

Most or single bubbles but there's quite a few doubles and really odd shaped ones. I was thinking about organizing them and packaging them to share here. Just wanted to get a vibe on if transparent PNGs are useful, or if I packaged them as .EMF files which you can ungroup and customize them further.


Jerson  Campos

I recently developed some custom bubbles for another rapid e-learning software that we use.  Before I arrived my company used the basic captions that came with the software. I think 95% of the built in captions were horrendous.  So I created my own for our team to use.  I used different colors and icons to signify different events.

Since we do mostly software simulations, this made the best sense to me. I usually follow two simple rules when I create captions. They should be easily read and they need to be recognizable (that it's a caption/speech bubble). I try to avoid getting tooo  fancy, but I skirt it every now and then.

Conic jsins
Tyrone Bishop

If the avatar is speaking about a point and you have visuals (i.e. using dual coding), then speech bubbles are a distraction. The learner won't be able to process so many channels of information. If you need it for accessibility, give a download link to the transcript.

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