Do you know when you see a professional looking course? What sets it apart from other courses that you have seen? Sometimes it is about the subtle details that set one course apart from another.
Perhaps it is because I have designed and developed tons of courses, but there are a few glaring mistakes that newbies make that are surefire signs that a course less than professional and that the person is a rookie.
Make sure that you check for these 9 things before you publish your course. By looking at these things, you will produce higher quality and more professional courses .
- Text alignment jumping from page to page.
Strong visual lines give a learner a clear visual path to follow, therefore leads to a non-distracting layout.
- Text alignment between title and paragraphs plus spacing.
To me this is the easiest thing to adjust but is the most often ignored mistake that people make. When you go from screen to screen, consistent elements should NOT move even a pixel from the screen prior. For example, if you have a custom Next button on the screen, it should always be the same pixel spacing (height and width) from screen to screen.
- Images not a consistent type and style.
Use one style of image. Either use illustrations or real photos, but try not to intermix them. And don’t use the 80’s style clip art – ever. Even if they are free.
- Images that are warped or stretched.
Invest in an image editing program and ensure that your images are the proper proportion. There are many times that you will have to re-size them to fit the area in which you will put them. Make sure that you are adjusting them appropriately to avoid stretching people or subjects to make them appear squashed or mashed up.
- Images finished and adjusted to not just be a photo stuck on the page. (not naked)
This one is all over the place. Ugh- if you can’t do anything else at least put a drop shadow on it. That at least makes it look a bit more polished and less like you just hit the Insert button and threw an image on the page. To me this always means that you were in a hurry and the image was just to make the page “prettier”. Make sure that the image fits and highlights the message that you are trying to communicate.
- Too many font styles or tacky fonts.
You can vary your font by changing the size, caps, and color but stick to one font family as much as possible.
- Branding not professionally done.
Your look and feel should follow brand standards and look like it was created by a pro. If that isn’t your forte, than hire it out. You can find a lot of great graphic designers out there — if you need one, I have a great one that I would recommend- just send me an email. It isn’t that expensive to hire someone to create a professional looking interface or context screen for your courses. This is a make it or break it because it is literally the learner’s first impression. Think about when you meet someone for the first time and you make an instant judgment about them based on their appearance and demeanor — it is like that.
- Proper landing place for buttons, banners and icons.
This should go without saying but I have seen this one as well. When you have a decided upon layout, your screen elements should ALWAYS stay in the same place. It is not okay to put your navigation buttons in the lower left hand corner for one module and then move it to the upper left in another. I don’t care what happens with the course elements. Keep it consistent.
- Widow and orphan text
Widow text means text refers to a few lonely words or a hyphenated word stranded at the bottom of a column or leg of type. An orphan refers to a few lonely words stranded at the top of a leg.
What other items are on your list to check prior to publishing? Add your comments to the comments area below to join the conversation.