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Learning & Development Blog

visually improve your storyline course

10 Ways To Visually Improve Your Storyline Course

1. Use a background

Storyline background articulate

Instructional designers always (I hope) aim to create immediacy and relevance with the courses they write. An eLearning designer/developer can aid in that process by adding visual context. We want to take content and turn it into a story. Use full-screen background images of offices, hallways, and living rooms. Adjust the transparency as needed so your text content is not visually competing with the background.

2. Ditch the built-in characters

Storyline CharacterStoryline comes with a set of illustrated and photographic characters that can be inserted into your course. In some cases this has the potential to be a really cool and useful feature. Unfortunately, many times the characters are too generic to be useful. For instance, when working on a scenario-based course that involved geriatric patients suffering from depression and dementia, the library of characters just didn’t work.

As an alternative, work with illustrators to create a scenario with more realistic characters.

Custom Character articulateCustom Character articulate

Of course having an illustrator is not always an option. If the course budget doesn’t allow for custom illustration, take a look at the reasonably priced asset libraries before settling on the default Storyline characters.

3. Spend time on title/section divider slides

Title Slides articulate
If the seat time of your course is more than 10 minutes, consider how it can be broken into digestible chunks. That is primarily the role of the instructional designer--but the graphic designer/eLearning developer can help with that as well. Consider full-page section or module divider slides.

One of the key tenets of good UX design in any website or eLearning course is to enable the user to know where they are and what is coming next. Though there are many strategies that can support this in Storyline (sidebar menu, icons indicating completion), creating a section title slide can be quite effective. It’s also an opportunity to design something creative and visually striking.

4. Use video

Video can be used in a variety of ways.

Videos can, of course, also provide the actual content. Budget and scope restrictions often prevent the ability to produce a video to be used in courses. But before you skip over this, do some research to see if there are any free existing videos available for your course content. If it is something that has been taught before and not company-specific, take a look around—you might find something that is quite good and quite free.

Quick sidenote, just because something is on YouTube does not mean it is free to use.

5. Use a lightbox slide

Lightbox Slide in StorylineArticulate Storyline has a built in feature called “lightbox slide.” This is handy for always-available background information. The use of a lightbox can help indicate to the user that they are staying within the scenario context (of the living room, or office etc) and interacting with relevant content that will help them in that context.

6. Don’t use the default Articulate font

articulate font

7. Avoid stock photo cliches

Stock Photo Cliche
Stock Photo Cliche 2

8. Make it Responsive

Responsive Storyline

Storyline makes it easy to make your course automatically scalable (responsive) to various screen sizes for tablets, mobile etc. Well… it’s easy once you find where to set it. 

Just go to Player Settings from the Home tab. Then click the Other Settings button and set the player size to “Scale Player to fill browser window.”

9. Let it breathe

Pay attention to line-height and white space.

When you’re done developing the first draft of your course, take a lap through it, paying particular attention to font size, color, and spacing. Are there any subtle changes that could be made to make it more digestible and easy on the eyes?

Yes. The answer is always yes.

Storyline Spacing

10. Use subtle fade-in transitions

By default there are no transitions between slides. The “Fade Smoothly (fast)” option works well between all slides. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s slightly less jarring.

You can also add a slight fade-in transition to layered elements that appear on the screen (Animations – Fade In – Medium Speed). Let’s be clear… more animation does not equal better user experience. Spin and Grow anyone? But less jarring = better user experience and a more polished overall look.


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