One of the easiest things you can do to make your course look good is to find a great background. The background is the largest single graphic in your course and can set the tone for what you do.
Here are a few posts that will help you understand the importance of how the background image impacts your course design:
- Do a Simple Background Check On Your Next E-Learning Project
- Here’s Some Background Information for Your Next E-Learning Course
- 3 Simple Steps to Create Background Images for Your Next E-Learning Scenario
It’s good to be intentional about the background graphic that is used. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a professional graphics designer. In the image above, the essence of the course was “corporate office.”
To get the right look, David used a corkboard and some “office embellishments” like the folder tabs and labels. From there he had the option to place other content on the board. Pretty simple, huh?
Of course, sometimes you need a good starting point. So here’s a list of the free backgrounds available in the elearning community. You’re free to use them for your online training as you wish.
Free Blurred Background Graphics
Blurred backgrounds are great. They provide some texture and depth, but don’t conflict with the other visual content. In fact I used one of the blurred backgrounds in the demo I built below.
- You can download the free 12 blurred backgrounds from the elearning community.
Free Textured Background Images
Sometimes a solid colored background is fine. In fact, the flat look is pretty popular today. That is until some designer gets bored and then tells you how lame flat is.
In either case, if you go with a solid color you may find the starting color looks too harsh. This is where softening the color makes sense. That is until some designer tells you softened colors are lame. If you don’t care what the designer says, here are three ways to soften the colors of your flat background design.
- Add a colored shape to the screen and then modify its transparency so that the white background bleeds through a bit.
- Use the three free background images from the community. They have a textured pattern that also softens the look.
- Create your own color backgrounds and use the pattern template included with the download to soften the image. David does a great explaining how to do that in this tutorial.
Free Background Images that Add Depth to Your E-Learning Slides
In an earlier post I shared some tips on how to create slides for your online training courses that have some depth. It’s the “wall, baseboard, and floor (WBF)” technique, or as one of the blog readers said, “Why be flat?”
This is a simple way to change the most boring elearning course into one you’d print on a shirt and wear to the Mardi Gras. All joking aside, it is a great way to quickly change the look of the course and make it a bit more visually interesting. If you don’t have time to practice making your own, take advantage of the ones included below.
- Paper office-themed background
- Corporate office-themed background
- Art gallery scenario background
- Classroom education background
- Beach scene background (great for Sharknado-themed elearning courses)
5 Free Backgrounds to Use with Characters & Interactive Scenarios
With photographic characters it’s easy to get backgrounds because all you need is a photo. With vector characters it’s not that easy. That’s where these handy backgrounds really help.
You can go from confused characters to ones that are engaged and excited in just a few clicks. There are five office backgrounds to start.
- Download the office backgrounds from the elearning community.
Of course, you can use the “Why Be Flat” technique to create your own. And you’re not limited to the backgrounds listed above. All of those display graphics in the download section can also be used to help build your online training.
In an ideal world, you have the graphics design resources to build a custom look for each course. But we know that’s not always possible. That’s where having the right background really comes in handy.
And if you’re just getting started or need something real quick, these backgrounds should help.
We’ll be adding some more soon, so be sure to bookmark the free downloads section so you can take advantage of all of the free assets for building your elearning courses.
Upcoming E-Learning Workshops & Events (2015)
- September 23 & 24 (Vancouver). Community-based elearning workshops focused on practical tips & tricks. You can register for one day or two days. To learn more & register, click here.
- September 29 (Las Vegas). Want to learn to get the right look and feel for your courses? Join David Anderson and me for a fun and active hands-on workshop. This topic is by far one of the most popular of the ones we've covered in any of our workshops in the past.
- September 30 (Las Vegas). Going to Devlearn? Swing by the Articulate booth and say hello.
- October 28 & 29 (Philadelphia). Community-based elearning workshops focused on practical tips & tricks. You can register for one day or two days. To learn more and register, click here.
- November: Just added! I'll be in London, Dublin, Berlin, Paris, Belgium, and Utrecht. Details coming soon.
Free E-learning Resources
Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.
Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs
Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills
Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.