When approaching visual design, you must consider your learner. Auditory, visual, tactile, these are all buzzwords associated with learning type. Unfortunately for the instructional designer you cannot cater to all learners all of the time.  Successful visual design can make or break the effectiveness of the learning.                   

Basic elements to consider when designing any form of visual communication include space, line, shape/form, size/scale, color, texture, and value Golomblosky & Hagen (2017). All are important and considered basic to visual design but the ultimate goal is a visual aid that clearly delivers all the intended information in an easy to process way that the learner retains.

Memory relies on encoding and retrieval so the designer should consider how new information gets into long-term memory and how the learner will retrieve it when needed. Things that trigger emotional context make it easier for the learner retrieve the memory; storytelling as a part of the learning is a great tool for this. Dirksen (2015)

 The designer also must keep the interest of the learner. Dirksen, 2015, suggests that in every learner is of two minds, the rider and the elephant. The rider is the conscious part of the brain that is there for business and ready to think. The Elephant represents the automatic, emotional part that is distracted by random thoughts and sensory triggers. Dirksen suggests the designer should appeal to the elephant. Keep the learner engaged in ways that are varied. Tells stories to deliver the intended lesson and involve them in the learning through discussions and activities that are varied enough not to become rote. Emotional engagement is important as well. Learners need to be able to act on what they learn and emotional context helps them do that.

For the new instructional designer, mastering all the elements of visual design may feel like drinking from a fire hose. There will be missteps and there will be successes. In the end practice makes perfect.


Dirksen, J. (2016). Design for how people learn. San Francisco: New Riders.

Hagen, R., & Golombisky, K. (2017). White space is not your enemy: a beginners guide to communicating visually through graphic, web & multimedia design. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

3 thoughts on “Visual design, so much to consider…

  1. I appreciate your sense of humor! Yes, there are so many times I think your analogy of drinking water from a fire hose is accurate as I progress through this program.


  2. A good first attempt at blog writing. The content is definitley informatie, but while I can tell that you are a pet lover, I am not sure what the purpose was its relation to the text. Also keep the images consistent.


    1. The dog had a caption about being bored (keeping the learner’s attention) that did not show up when I published the blog. I struggled with mastering WordPress and the first time I published the formatting was all wrong. I lost everything and had to start over at 11:30p. That is why I joked when I posted the link in the Discussion forum “six hours later”. It is a process -M


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