Design Principles for Modern Online Learning Businesses

Barry Kelly
May 14, 2021

Design is so important to how we make emotional connections with products, brands, and pretty much anything we encounter in the world. How we interact with, perceive, and evaluate objects and experiences has everything to do with their look, feel, and quality.

To fit into this modern world, you must think the exact same way when it comes to online learning. And design doesn’t just happen inside the course—it starts well before. It influences how you communicate the overall value of your brand and how you are perceived by your audience.

The point is, design in probably more important to your business than you know, so put emphasis on it, get professionals to help, and make sure it’s not an afterthought.

Design Trends in Online Learning

Consumer-grade Experiences

Consumer grade experiences. Netflix-like experiences. These are things we hear about all the time. Basically, what that means is that users’ expectations of the web—and their overall experience with technology, entertainment, and art online—have vastly changed, and we need to be able to match it. The drive for value perception is tremendously high, so the old days of online learning with blue links and clip art are gone. This means, in order to stand out you’re really going to have to up your game.

The Ubiquitous Web

Another trend or transformation in the world is ubiquitous web. Individuals interact daily across multiple devices, phones, tablets, and desktops. It’s not good enough to design for just one format anymore. You’ve got design for many, so that they can pick up from one and move to the next seamlessly, while all the designs hangs together and the experience holds true.

Flat Design

Just like fashion, trends in design change all the time. As jeans are getting skinnier and shoes are getting pointier, the same thing is happening with design today. Five years ago, we had beveled edges and drop shadows. Today, we have beautiful large full-breadth imagery, more white space, cleaner fonts, and more tiles. That makes for a much better user experience across the board.

Why invest in Design?

The reason to invest in design are pretty straightforward: It can have a significant effect on your bottom line. If you’re seeking to monetize the perceived value of experience, it shows through your design. Good design makes sure that people move through the conversion process with trust in your brand.

Another place where design is tremendously important in online learning is in overall engagement. As you develop your learning experiences, understand that navigation, imagery, and interactions are all important for driving an individual towards a positive outcome or a change in behavior.

Leveraging Design in Online Learning

Tip 1: Create a Style Guide

A style guide will help you define your brand attributes, set some visual guidelines, and set the rules of engagement, so that you can deliver consistency down the line.

Tip 2: Assign a Brand Gatekeeper

Make sure that somebody at the organization is responsible for the look and feel, so that they’re reviewing what’s being created at all times.

Tip 3: Hire a Professional

Please hire a graphic designer to help or a creative director. It’s no longer going to be good enough to have your cousin’s friend who knows Photoshop help you out.

We hope these tip help your creativity as you think about designing your online learning business.

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