The Rapid Elearning Blog

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning templates

A common frustration for many rapid elearning developers is wanting to build elearning courses that look good but not having the graphic design expertise or resources to make it happen.

Today, we’ll look at a simple way to solve that problem. I call it the “quick template” technique. It’s a trick I share in many of my workshops.

In a previous post we reviewed how to design an elearning course on a budget. It’s a good overview of what we’ll look at today. In that post, we explored:

  • Where to locate existing course assets
  • How to leverage the company website
  • Ways to modify the assets you find

E-Learning Courses Compared to Websites

Websites and elearning courses are very similar in how they’re built. They’re both screens on a computer. So what they have on the screens is very similar. And when you think about it, there’s really only so much you can put on the screen.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - website compared to elearning template

The screen usually has text, colors, and some other design elements like shapes and images.

You may not have a graphic designer at your disposal, but odds are that your organization hired one to build its website. And since a website and course design is very similar, there’s probably a lot you can glean from your company’s site.

Another advantage is that the website also alleviates some of the branding issues that you may face in the organization because they’re typically branded to meet the organization’s needs and comply with the organization’s branding guidelines.

How to Create an E-Learning Template

Here are the key elements I look for when pulling ideas from the company website:

  • Colors and how they’re used. What’s the main color? How are accents used? What color is the text?
  • Treatment of images. Do they use photos or illustrations? What type of photos are they using? How do they work the logo or branded images into the template?
  • Typography. Does the company have a designated font? What fonts are used for title and body? What colors are they? How are they used?
  • Design elements. Are the lines straight or curved? Squares or circles? Pointed corners or rounded rectangles?
  • Content containers. This is the main thing for me. How is the content on the site framed? Can I use some of the design elements for specific types of content like call out boxes or media holders?

Once I review the site and make notes on what I can use, I assemble the template. Most of the times it requires a few different layouts. Keep in mind the template you create doesn’t need to be an exact duplicate of the website. You’re merely looking for design ideas that will help you develop a clean and nice looking elearning course design.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - website to inspire elearning template design

For example, I may take some of the design elements that I like from the demo website above and then modify them to be different types of content containers. This allows me to create an assortment of layouts that I can use throughout the course.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning layouts for elearning template

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to find course design ideas from your company website. One video goes through the site and looks for inspiration. And the other shows how to transform the ideas into an actual template design.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to create an elearning template

Click here to view the tutorial.

You may not have the graphic design skills or resources to build your elearning course design, but you may find that those things already exist in some format for you to use. Make friends with your IT staff, web design team, and any other group that produces designed materials. This will put you on the road to a clean and consistent design for your next course.

Where do you find ideas within your organization? Leave a comment by clicking on the comments link.


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 e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

15 responses to “How to Build an E-Learning Template with No Money Down”

Hi folks,
here is a template I made some month ago, following most of Tom’s tips.. You can download it for free and use it as you like for your courses..

Here you can find other things to download for your elearning courses:


[…] post originale di Tom Kuhlmann sul “Rapid E-Learning Blog”. Il post originale è disponibile qui jQuery(document).ready(function($) { […]

Leggi la traduzione autorizzata in italiano del post qui:

[…] Read the original here: How to Build an E-Learning Template with No Money Down » The Rapid eLearning Blog […]

Thank you for sharing this wonderful template. Great job!

July 10th, 2012

Frequently, the marketing department will have a repository of images and/or photos that they use for external communications. I have worked with them to gain access to the repository, and permission to use the assets in my courses. This helps with the branding guidelines, as well as opens up a large warehouse of assets I can use without a lot of effort to locate!

Thanks for another great post, Tom. Great ideas for those new to design, especially the hint about creating multiple layouts.

This is great information! I’d appreciate a few more intermediate/advanced tutorials on escaping the canned Articulate look. You have excellent ones…changing a tire, choosing a tool…that have taught me a great deal, but not how to get away from the player template, reorganize the screen and seamlessly present material without someone saying “Oh, you’re using Articulate.”

Then again, maybe it’s just me not putting together all the wonderful pieces you provide. Your team is an incredible resource!

Thanks Tom. That was a very useful tip.

Thanks Tom — that’s a great idea to use the company website as a basis for visuals.

Thanks both Tom (great tips as always) and Italgo (nice templates and site…)Again thanks for sharing!

July 14th, 2012

Thank you for sharing this wonderful template.

[…] they’ve hired graphic designers. Then use their work as a guide to inspire yours. This post on how to build an elearning template offers some good tips on where to […]