Connie Malamed is a consultant, author, and speaker in the fields of online learning, visual communication, and information design. She has helped nonprofit, government, and corporate clients transform their content into interactive learning experiences for more than 20 years. Connie is the author of Visual Design Solutions and Visual Language for Designers. She publishes The eLearning Coach website and podcast. Connie has degrees in art education and instructional design.
In this conversation, Connie talks about her new book, Visual Design Solutions.
Geetesh: Connie, there are so many design books as you mention in the opening pages of your new book. So what motivated you to author Visual Design Solutions: Principles and Creative Inspiration for Learning Professionals? Tell us more.
Connie: Yes. There are so many wonderful and useful graphic design books. I have quite a large collection myself. But these books mainly focus on the design of company branding, brochures, advertising, newsletters and the like. In fact, to many people, the term “graphic design” is associated with these formats.
In light of this, I couldn’t help but notice a lack of resources and references for the visual design of learning materials, such as eLearning and slides. I wrote Visual Design Solutions to fill this gap. I not only present design principles, but I discuss how they benefit learning.
Instructional designers, trainers, and educators look at the world from a unique perspective, and that’s the perspective from which I wrote the book. We want to communicate in a way that enhances comprehension and improves retention. We want people to use our materials to improve their skills. This is a different mindset than an advertiser who is designing for potential consumers. Although the design principles are similar, the intent is different.
Geetesh: How is Learning/eLearning Design different than or similar to conventional Graphic Design?
Connie: In the design of learning materials, we have many constraints. Although we need to create an aesthetic experience to motivate learners, our main focus is on clarity, which enhances comprehension. We must use visual cues so learners won’t miss out on information. And we must find visual metaphors to help people learn.
For eLearning, we design for interactive activities and for navigation. We design for simulations and scenarios and characters speaking to each other. In many ways, the visual design needs of the learning professional are quite different than those of the conventional graphic designer.
Geetesh: Can the principles in your book work well for designers who create slides in PowerPoint and other similar programs?
Connie: I do think the principles work well for slide creation and I had this in mind while writing the book. In-person training often relies on slides. And presentation slides are often educational. So when I discuss graphic space, typography, working with images, color principles, unity and grouping, the concepts are as true for slides as they are for eLearning and job aids.