Why you need icons in your elearning

Icons are useful, simplified images to use for buttons, topic headers, and other places that need a quick, punchy graphic that can be easily and quickly read. In our elearning, user guides, infographics and other projects, we make a lot of use of icons. Here are some guidelines on how to create effective icons.

1. Look and feel of content design

First, consider the existing look and feel of your elearning design. When designing your icons, will they be consistent and harmonious with the graphics you are already using? Will they fit in with the user interface style? Naturally, you also need to ensure that these elements are also consistent throughout the icon set you are using. If you are drawing a series of icons to indicate a number of related items, consider how they will relate to each other, while still being distinct and readable.

2. Analysis

This is where you analyse the keywords that each icon needs to represent, and then try to create the right visual representation or metaphor for those words. You’ll have to distill down the simplest images and symbols associated with the concepts you need to communicate.

For difficult concepts, try to choose an image that would be most relevant to your company. For instance, if you want something to represent “data”, would your employees think of a chart, a stack of documents, or a storage drive? Any of those are valid ideas for an icon, so long as your audience understands what you’re trying to say.

3. Keep it simple

As mentioned above, the size the icon will be used at will have some effect on the amount of detail you can put in your design, but in any case, less is more. The purpose of an icon is to be iconic, so adding too much detail or complicated designs will only make your icons harder to read. Even when creating icons in an illustrative style, the symbol should still be easily recognized and understood.

Storyline comes with a decently robust icon library where many of them are fillable shapes that you can adjust to match the existing colour palette of your elearning. Make use of this resource! You’d be surprised what a great icon set can do for your elearning content!

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