If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I recommend looking at web design sites and at other media-related industries for inspiration. This is a good way to learn about different screen layouts and color schemes. And then consider how they might work in your elearning courses.
It’s also a great way to learn to use PowerPoint’s graphic features; because a lot of your rapid elearning success depends on how well you can get around PowerPoint. These types of exercises will only enhance your skills as a rapid elearning author.
The other day I ran across this site, Things That Are Brown, by Matt Brown, a Seattle-based web designer. I like the colors he uses and the general layout. So I played around with some ideas on how this could work in an elearning course.
The Original Site
Here is an image of Matt’s site. I like the clean lines and earthiness. It’s so brown. Being from the northwest, I’m kind of fond of brown. Reminds me of good coffee, chocolate brownies, and the heavy, hand-knit wool sweaters I have to wear while strolling the beaches in the summer.
By using the darker color scheme in the template, any color or contrast on the site really pops and draws your attention. That’s something to keep in mind when you consider the visual design of your own courses. Remember, part of your visual design is how to direct the learner’s eye.
The Mock Up
Here’s a published version of my mock up. As you can see in the demo, I kept the general layout and then created pieces of paper as the focal point. I like the way the white contrasts with the brown. The paper is where I’d put the course content.
Once I created the general layout, I used Pixie to grab the colors. Then I played with ways I could add the paper to the screen. You can see some of them below.
If I were to use this in a real course, I’d probably animate the pages coming in and out. That would have a nice effect. Another idea is to have a new piece of paper load on each slide. Then it would look like you’re adding to the pile of papers. You could also make smaller versions of the papers and use those as icons that link to sections in the course. It’s just a matter of playing around with some layout ideas.
How I Built the Template in PowerPoint
Again, the goal in these exercises is to experiment with ideas and learn more about PowerPoint. As you become more comfortable working with the slides and graphic features, you’ll become more efficient using the tools. In this example, all of the design elements in the template were created in PowerPoint.
Here’s a quick tutorial on the approach I take when doing these exercises and how I created this template.
Here’s an additional tutorial on how to create the paper images. As a habit, I’ll create these types of assets in PowerPoint and then save them as graphic files rather than keeping them as PowerPoint objects. It’s what I discussed in a previous post on rapid elearning essentials.
Some of the key things to focus on when doing these exercises:
- Learn to create shadows. PowerPoint 2007 makes it easy because it has a built-in shadow feature. But you can also create your own shadows as you can see in this tutorial on creating a page curl effect.
- Leverage the master slides. What’s persistent across all of the slides? Put that on the master. It’ll save you time and makes it easier to edits down the road.
- Play around with color schemes. Use Pixie to pick one color and then apply that color to a color scheme. See what interesting types of colors combinations you can create. You can get ideas from sites like Color Scheme Designer and Kuler.
- Save you objects as graphics. Get in the habit of saving the objects you create as separate graphic files. They’ll be easier to work with and improve your publishing time.
In summary, you’re not going to improve your PowerPoint skills without some practice. These exercises will help you get the practice and give you some ideas about visual design and screen layouts.
Here’s a link to download this PowerPoint template. I created one for PowerPoint 2007 and one for 2003.
Got any tips and tricks you’d like to share when building rapid elearning courses in PowerPoint? Share them by clicking on the comments link.
More Free PowerPoint Templates
If you liked this post, you’ll probably like these, too. And you get seven more free PowerPoint templates:
Here’s a Free PowerPoint Template & How I Made It (1 template)
Here’s How I Built That PowerPoint E-Learning Template (2 templates)
Your 10 Most Popular Posts (1 template)
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.