101 You Be the Judge: What Makes a Visual Design Good?

8:15 AM - 9:30 AM Wednesday, August 5

Most of us have an opinion when it comes to the quality of a design but we don't always have the vocabulary to describe WHY we like or dislike it. And while many L&D professionals know how important the visuals and layout are in making an effective learning experience, we often have to take the reins as designers without years of graphic design training. Professional graphic designers build their design vocab by critiquing each other's work, and as a result they become better designers. So, let's bring this practice of critiquing visual designs and defining design theory together to the world of L&D.

In this session, we'll spend time investigating examples of slides, microlearning videos, and other common L&D project forms to determine what is and what is not working visually. In this fun and interactive presentation, we'll bring design theory to the conscious level. Each example we critique is an opportunity to define important design principals or elements and organically build your design vocabulary. Understanding that you have less than a second to make an impression with the design of your learning experience raises the stakes on the importance of making good visual design choices. The more you practice analyzing design and applying design theory to your work, the easier and better it becomes.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How humans judge visual design based on experience
  • The design vocabulary you can use to critique designed materials
  • How to apply design principals such as alignment, contrast, empty space, and proximity to improve the feel of your designs
  • Simple techniques for picking the right visuals to support your story
  • How to be direct with your visual messaging and communicate at a glance

Rachel Dillon

Sr. Instructional Designer, Professional Standards Training


Rachel Dillon is a senior instructional designer for T-Mobile. Her 25+ years as a professional graphic designer inspires her belief in the power of visual design and how it relates to the science of learning and retention. In 2019, Rachel earned her graduate certificate in eLearning instructional design from the University of California, Irvine, Division of Continuing Education. Currently, she is working toward her master of science in instructional design & technology at CSU-Fullerton, with a projected graduation date of May 2022. For her master's thesis, she is researching the positive impact of applying graphic design principles to eLearning experiences. She speculates that instructional designers with graphic design foundations can develop more engaging and memorable courses. She wants to help instructional designers add to their tool belt by sharing the power of graphic design and how applied properly can enhance a learning experience.

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