Part of my daily routine is to look at current design trends and inspiration. Something I’ve noticed this week is the number of typography Designs that have a feature. This got me thinking about how most graphic design is in fact made from typography. Similarly, so is eLearning.
So, I want to share some of my top design rules for eLearning professionals when it comes down to typography.
Typography is critical for both design and development aspects in learning. ELearning content can be 80% text or more so, it must work with the layout, colour and the overall feel of the course. You must ensure that with everything to consider, typography is chosen in a correct style to look professional and well organized. If it isn’t, you will find it will start to affect the learners’ attention.
Typography is ART
Coming from a graphic designers’ point of view, typography is art. Good typography involves a variety of aspects. It involves a choice of fonts, font-sizes, line lengths, columns and a selection of other components. When all this is considered, it gives typography the power to lift even the most mediocre content. Bad typography can render even the best eLearning content unreadable.
Graphic Designers and creatives can take years to master the art of typography, but you can make a start at improving your learning with some simple guidelines.
Choose your font WISELY
If in doubt as to whether fonts compliment or clash when used together – stick to standards. (This is of course if your client does not have branding guidelines for you already.) Fonts such as Arial, Verdana and Helvetica always work perfectly on old computer resolutions as well as today’s’ Hi-Definitions.
When choosing a font, you always want to make sure you don’t make your choice too large or even too small. 14-16px is a good starting point for font size when creating learning. Similarly, to font size, you need to ensure that you don’t make content too long or short horizontally. Aim for roughly 70 characters per line. This figure is considered best practice for optimal reading ease.
The THREE-FONTS-MAX rule
A common mistake for lots of webmasters and designers is the tendency to use too many fonts. Using too many fonts will make any designer look amateurish. Respectively, you want to use no more than 2 or 3 fonts in one course or design eg. One for titles and one for copy. Not all fonts are created with equal intentions. Some are designed for readability, which makes them perfect for long content, whilst some are ornamental and overly fancy, these are reserved for titles and headings. As a rule – sans serif fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Calibri and Helvetica, are known for making long content easier to read. This is essential and especially true when it comes to computer displays.
Along with the potential too many fonts pit hole, the use of too many sizes and weights when placing fonts together causes problems. Stick to fewer and more thought out sizes when designing. Try to base the size and weight of a font on the hierarchical structure of your content and learning. Try to remember larger for titles, smaller for subtitles and medium for content etc.
Mood of content
- Who are you designing learning for?
This is an important question that you need to consider in terms of typography. When designing learning and graphics, the audience you’re designing for will need to relate to the fonts chosen. For example, designing for children? Children’s designs will have a softer and more playful heading than that of a structured business course. Corporate businesses will expect a solid and professional, sharp looking, font to enhance the importance of information. You want to make sure that, when choosing fonts to apply to specific content, you know what the mood should be. This will avoid an unprofessional look.
In most instances, clients will usually have their own branding guidelines for the designer to follow, this will include any specific fonts that are unique to their company. Be mindful of this information, use accordingly unless instructed otherwise.
However, when creating your own learning, with no restrictions and guidelines, why not play around with typography. Research design, typographic technique, and learn to naturally select which fonts work together and which do not. You want to be able to effortlessly select fonts based on learning content, mood and audience.
Why not also try your hand at animating typography? There’s a wide variety of effects and techniques out there to design fun moving titles. Delve deeper into a whole new design age for your learning designs.