What Is The Impact Of Visual Design On The Effectiveness Of Learning?

For the longest time, learning has followed the same model of literature and lectures regardless of the subject or type of learner. Occasionally a diagram or image might be used but, for the most part, lessons consisted of reading, repetition and remembering.

Fast forward to the modern digital age and learning has undergone a revolution. Students have different learning styles and consume knowledge differently from one another. Lessons are now created using a mix of learning materials and the benefits of digital learning are being embraced across sectors. The most significant change perhaps is the recognition of the value of using custom visual design to improve the effectiveness of learning.

At Esus, we have been incorporating visual design into e-learning for close to two decades. We understand that the companies we work with want to ensure that their bespoke e-learning is as effective as possible and visual design is one of the ways we help them achieve this.

What Is Visual Design?

Visual design is all around us; from newspaper layouts and product packaging to websites and mobile phone apps, we are influenced by visual design every day. You would be forgiven for assuming that visual design is all about making something look good. However, looking good is only one of the many uses and benefits of visual design.

Visual design has the power to influence decisions, engage different brain functions, make us feel certain emotions and communicate messaging and ideas succinctly. It can be incorporated by using any number of visual elements, including:

  • Photography
  • Video
  • Illustration
  • Colour
  • Typography
  • The space between all of the above

Four Ways That Visual Design Impacts The Effectiveness Of Learning

1. Boosts Motivation

When it comes to effective learning, there is one thing above all others that is essential and that is a motivated learner. We live in a busy world full of competing information sources which can result in learners feeling overwhelmed before they even get started. This means that when you want to transform employees and team members into learners you need to motivate them first.

Visual design transforms lessons and training content into something that both redefines learning and is attention grabbing. Learners engage better with visual design because it does not feel like learning. There is a belief (usually based on past experiences) that learning is ‘boring’ and difficult but by incorporating visual design into learning you can overcome this bias very quickly. Visual design enables you to present information in a way that is easier to absorb, is enjoyable and also is engaging.

2. Helps Memory Function

Visual design aids memory function and helps students retain more information for longer. Studies have found that our memory has two main functions – short term and long term memory. For lessons to be absorbed they must be impactful enough to remain in the long term memory. This is especially true since our short term memories can only hold on to a limited amount of information.

According to Dr Lynell Burmark, author of Visual Literacy, “Images go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched”. Dr Burmark and many others have found in their research that a student presented with only text will retail around 10% of the lesson. However, when presented with visual elements, with or without text, they will be able to recall at least 65%,

3. Speed Up Learning

Did you know that the human brain can process visual information more than 60,000 times quicker than text? When you consider how we communicate with body language this starts to make sense. So much of what we see is processed by our brains without our conscious self even realising. By using visual design elements, such as animation, graphics and video clips within lessons, you help students to process information quicker, reinforcing the lesson and helping them retain more information faster.

4. Tap Into Emotions

One of the simplest ways to understand how visual design influences our emotions is to think of colour use in daily life. We are surrounded by colours that give us important messages quickly, for example, a traffic light system that tells you to stop with you see the colour red. We’re also surrounded by colour that makes us feel a certain way. Blue is associated with trust, a reason why so many banks use blue. Similarly, yellow can make us feel hungry and is used by most fast food giants.

Colour is just one way that visuals can emote feelings in a learner. The importance of triggering emotion in learning is that it assists with further memory retention. Within the brain, the area that processes memory and the area that processes emotions are located beside each other. This creates a connection that helps learners retain information to a far greater extent.

To see how we can help you use visual design to develop a custom e-learning solution, contact Esus E-learning today at info@esus.ie.



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