601 It’s More Than Pretty: Applying Graphic Design Principles Makes Learning Easier

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Thursday, September 30

The content is all there and accurate; why should you change how it's laid out? Does it really matter how it looks? Actually, yes. Bad graphic design leaves an impression. No matter how accurate and amazing the information is, if it's crammed on the page/slide/screen or if clunky, meaningless images are added, your learners will likely think twice about the validity of the material. It can be scary to take visual design risks, and you might feel like you aren’t a seasoned graphic designer, but with a few graphic design principles in your toolbelt you can add so much more to your learning experiences.

In this session you'll learn how applying graphic design does more than make things pretty: It also makes learning easier. A well laid-out page can reduce the amount of work the brain has to do to recognize what is essential. When there are minor distractions, like misaligned text boxes, not enough contrast in overlapping colors, or too much of something (whether it’s words or white space), graphic design techniques can balance a composition so the learner remains focused. And a focused participant has an increased chance of retaining more of what they learned. This session will share graphic design techniques that you can use right away to make learning easier for your audience.

In this session, you will learn:

  • What our brain does when it gets overstimulated or bored during a learning experience
  • How to give your graphics, shapes, and text breathing room
  • How to guide a learner’s eye to what is most important
  • How to time content to appear on screen to ease the cognitive load
  • To use consistent colors and graphics to create a cohesive story

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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