Visual design trends are always changing. The evolutions often happen so gradually you don’t even notice—until you stumble upon a course you made a couple of years ago and think, wow, that looks kind of dated.

That’s what happened to me recently as I was reviewing and republishing some older Storyline examples to HTML5 so they’ll work when Adobe stops supporting Flash at the end of 2020.

If you’re also in the process of updating your Storyline courses in light of the end of Flash, you might be tempted to simply open them up and hit republish. I get it! You’ve probably got a long list of courses to update and not much time to do it. 

But if—like me—you run into some courses that could use a little design makeover, don’t be so quick to write off a revamp. It’s faster and easier than you might think to modernize your course design. And given how far an appealing design can go toward giving your courses more credibility and increasing learner motivation, it’s well worth spending the extra couple of minutes.

In this article, I’ll walk you through four changes you can make to improve your course design in no time.

To illustrate the changes, I’ll use this old example:

Before (click to view interactive version)

The overall design is by no means egregious, but you can definitely tell it’s been around for awhile. (For the record, this example is almost 10 years old!) 

Here’s what it looks like after I updated it:

After (click to view interactive version)

See the difference? It’s subtle, but something about it just feels sleeker and more modern. And the best part is it only took me a few minutes to update it. Keep reading to find out more about the changes I made.

1. Simplify the Design

One of the biggest design trends we’re seeing these days is minimalism. To make your old course feel more modern, try to eliminate any unnecessary design elements and strip it down to the bare minimum.

In my example, I started by replacing the gradient background with a solid color. Then I got rid of the drop shadows and deleted the gray box around the text. It’s already looking so much better! Take a peek:

See how much cleaner it looks? On top of looking more modern, it’s also less busy, making it easier to parse.

2. Swap Out the Fonts

Another way to update the look and feel of your course is by swapping out the fonts. And thanks to the theme fonts feature in Storyline 360, doing that only takes a few clicks.

See how much sleeker the example looks after I swapped out the font:

If you’re not sure which fonts to use, go to Google Fonts and see what’s trending:

Google Fonts are free to download and use as you wish, and there are tons to choose from. Once you’ve found a font you like, click on it and then scroll to the bottom of the page to see what other fonts pair well with it:

Looking for more tips on choosing fonts? Check out this helpful article: 5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Fonts for E-Learning.

 3. Update the Graphics

Graphics can really date your courses. Thankfully, the Media Library makes updating visuals quick and easy. For example, if you’re using one of our old illustrated characters, you can replace it with one of our modern illustrated characters everywhere it appears in your course in just one click. The same goes for images, videos, and even audio files.

Let’s say your company’s logo has changed since you created the course. No problem! Simply replace it in the Media Library, and it’ll be replaced everywhere it appears in your course.

Find out more about how that works in this article: Replacing All Instances of an Asset.

In my example, I updated the logo and the illustrated character. Take a look:

See what a huge difference small changes can make?

4. Switch to the Modern Player 

Finally, once you’ve finished updating the look and feel of your slides, be sure to open up the player settings and select the modern player. Doing so will not only make your course look more current, it will also ensure that it works well and looks great across all devices.

With the modern player, you have the option to choose a light or dark theme. For a seamless look, choose the light version if your slides have a light-colored background and the dark version if your slides are darker. 

Be sure to update the accent color and player font to match your course design to tie it all together, like I’ve done in the example below:

The Bottom Line

By making a few simple but strategic updates, you can completely overhaul your course design in just a few minutes. Just look at the difference it made with my example:


(click to view interactive version)


(click to view interactive version)


So next time you’re updating your courses—no matter the reason—you might as well breathe new life into them with a quick design refresh.

More Resources

Updating your courses in light of the end of Flash? Don’t miss these articles:

Doing some yearly maintenance on your course catalog? Check out these helpful articles:

Want to try out Storyline 360 for yourself, 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.