Choosing Visuals that Make Your Learning Resources Impactful

In a world where attention spans are short, what can we do to keep our learners engaged for an hour-long online course? It is challenging, but interestingly, human brains are wired to embrace imagery more quickly and efficiently than texts.

Proof of this dates back to the earliest civilizations, when visual communications from cave walls passed down knowledge, emotions and stories. Evolution to a digital lifestyle has only magnified the options of presentation, which means visual magic has never lost its impact. This gives a powerful way to eLearning Designers to build their credible courses with just the right mix of graphic ingredients.

Consider the following elements before selecting graphics for your next course.

More is Less

Have you come across movies packed with special effects that makes you go “wow” in the beginning, but by the end, you hardly remember what you saw? Online courses that are flooded with images or pointless animations behave in a similar way; they begin to get boring very quickly, no matter how attractive the images. Our conscious mind becomes numb if it starts to receive information beyond its threshold. So, be careful not to overload the course with too many visuals, otherwise it can overshadow your core content.

Avoid the Clichéd Images

Take a look at these images. How many times have you come across a similar picture of shaking hands on a title page, or such “stock” graphics in general contexts? These run-of-the-mill images downgrade the quality of the course. If your content has to say something distinctive, make it look distinctive. Our team at Artha often uses custom graphics, tailor-made to the content. If you do not have access to a graphic designer, some extra effort in searching for the right image might help.


Law of Proximity

The location of the images can have an impact on the engagement of your audience. This is because the human brain perceives objects as one, or separate, – based on their distances from one another. Here is what that means:

using dots to illustrate Gestalt's Law of Proximity

On the left, there are thirty-six circles which seems to be a single unit, whereas, the same number of elements on the right, are perceived as three separate groups. The space is the only difference between these two visuals. Similarly, in designing eLearning courses, place your related objects or images together because that’s how learners comprehend the relationship between different elements.

Tell a Visual Tale

Instructional designers should be good storytellers. Why not let the images help tell your story? Visuals are good interpreters of ideas even as compared to text. Add smart visuals where appropriate; add those that complement and not distract from your story.

In this context, infographics are very helpful to represent large and complex data into an easy-to-read format. It is a mighty tool if you have lots of important information to accommodate in a small space, which may be difficult to convey otherwise. You can provide a catchy, compact, and more guided approach to your message, with only the needed text.

infographic illustrating "4 tips for choosing infographics that make your eLearning pop" Tips include "more is less, avoid cliched images, law of proximity, and tell and visual tale".

Images work like magic in shaping courses. At Artha Learning, every single element that goes in a digital learning experience is considered, and interesting and original visuals are always a big part of that. If you’d like to discuss how to best use images and graphics in your learning solutions, reach out to us!


1 Robert Gunn, Bruno David, Jean-Jacques Delannoy and Margaret Katherine (2017) . The Archaeology of Rock Art in Western Arnhem Land, Australia

2 Banerjee, J. C. (1994). “Gestalt Theory of Perception”. Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Psychological Terms.

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