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How do Colors Impact eLearning Design and Learning?

Written By Manisha Reddy K

A lot goes into developing an eLearning or an mLearning course. You need to consider the learning objectives, learner profiles and align the course content accordingly, when designing eLearning courses. One of the aspects of design is the choice of colors. Do you know that color actually impacts the effectiveness of your courses? Choosing the “right” colors can actually affect the extent, to which information is grasped and retained.

So, if you consider eLearning to be just uploading your presentations online, think again. It is not as simple as it sounds. In this blog, I would like to share some interesting aspects about color and how it impacts various types of courses.

Colors are one of the powerful design elements in eLearning and are used to:

  • Set the mood
  • Attract attention
  • Make a statement

Warm and Cold Colors

The above diagram is self-explanatory, and gives you an idea about warm and cold colors. The choice of colors in courses depends on the effect you wish to create for your learners. Here is a table that gives you information, about the effect of colors on viewers.

Cool Colors Warm Colors
  • Shades of: Dark green, blue and purple
  • Calm and relax the viewer
  • They are comforting to the eyes
  • Shades of: Red, orange, yellow and light green
  • Arouse or stimulate the viewer
  • They make viewer anxious and cause eye strain

Red is associated with fire and danger. When you want to show any risk factor in your course, you can use images with red, yellow, orange (i.e., warm colors).

For courses other than risks, you can use shades of dark green,blue and purple (cool colors).

Choice of colors in courses

There is a relationship between content of the course and colors. This means that the color combinations you choose depend on the type of course you are going to create.

For example:

  • In an ‘Agriculture Course’ or environment related courses, you can use the color of nature – Green.
  • In a ‘Product Training Course’, you can use professional colors – Dark Blue & Grey (i.e., cool colors).
  • Suppose you are designing courses for mobile devices, you will have limitations in terms of the screen size. Choice of background colors becomes very important to make it easy for learners to navigate and assimilate information.
  • Similarly, colors are used to group similar objects or facts, as one entity. For example, in a ‘product training course’ all the products in a particular product line have same color. They are also very effective in providing structure to a piece of information to help better assimilation and understanding.

Additionally, colors are very useful when you need to guide learners,on a system or process easily, as in the case of complex processes or procedures. You might find a parallel in the way metro route maps are organized. All the train routes are color coded, so you know easily, which train to take to reach a particular destination. Colors visually guide learners to locate, or correlate information fast.

We do make color choices subconsciously, when we create presentations and choose graphics for the same. However, when designing eLearning courses, choice of colors is a conscious decision, as it plays a major role in visual communication.

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