Color Me Creative: How to Use Color Contrast to Make Your eLearning Project Pop

A variety of colored pencils create a heart shape on a black background.

One of the simplest techniques to creating low-cost yet effective training is applying contrasting colors and shapes. Adding a variety of visuals makes eLearns more interesting, obviously. If done correctly, doing so also helps learners instantly see the most important information and allows those with disabilities to better engage with the training.

Color and shape contrasts

Font and formatting changes are easy to make, and doesn’t require a new designing tool. For example, if you already have a license to Microsoft products, you can use the custom color eyedropper tool to change the shade of a new shape or textbox. Review the applications you use to see what colors are currently available and what customization options are possible.

Use the color wheel

standard color wheel has twelve colors. You can find a complementary color by locating your primary color and selecting the color that is directly opposite of it on the color wheel. The three primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. By mixing the primaries, you can create the three secondary colors: green, orange, and purple. The six tertiary colors mix the primary and secondary colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet. The color wheel can be your greatest tool as a designer.

Design Tip #1

For a softer look, try a color on the left or right of the direct complementary color. For example, the direct contrast of blue is orange, but you might want to go with a yellow-orange or red-orange to provide diversity and make the contrast less drastic.

Color contrast draws learners into the content

Warm colors, like yellow or red, naturally grab the reader’s attention. However, vibrant warm colors, like a fire engine red, should be used sparingly, as they can be perceived as aggressive. Feel free to experiment with the color wheel by changing the hue and intensity of your fonts.

Color contrast creates excitement

Use color contrast to emphasize important information. Placing light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background is an effective design tactic that draws the eye of your reader. Make sure the text is still readable and do not be afraid to use the white or negative space on the page. When you leave deliberate space, it allows a reader to rest their eyes and better absorb the text.

Design Tip #2

Keep in mind that people see colors differently. To cater to your potentially color-blind audience, avoid green/red, blue/ grey, yellow/green combinations.

Color contrast organizes information

Consider using a contrasting color scheme to help organize your documentation. An overload of color can throw off the narrative of your training or desktop procedure, but you can create a sense of uniformity by creating a repeating pattern of a few select colors.

Assuming you have creative freedom in the e-learning project, play with the design further by inserting smart art and shapes that match your color scheme. Organize information with new shapes or pre-made hierarchy charts and process flows.

If your heading is a larger and lighter font backed by a darker color, eyes will be drawn to it first. Once you have made a specific contrast choice, stick with it. Repeat the size and color of the headings and body of your text throughout your document. Typically, subheadings should be smaller than the heading, and body text should be a smaller size font than the subheading.

Once you have established a pattern or standard design within your document or e-learning training module, you have room for creativity. The contrasting design choices you make on top of that can create a flattering diversity in the way the material is presented.

Design Tip #3

For an easy color scheme, take the main color in your company logo and adjust the hue and intensity. Using shades of that color will give your product a professional appearance.

Trust your Instincts

If you look at a slide and do not like something about it, change it. A good design is easy on the eyes and enhances the learning experience. A distracting or loud design will be obvious to you and to your learners. It benefits you to make a quick change now during the design stage, than to re-assess once training has been launched. When possible make sure to use your master slides. This saves you time and effort as you can change a background slide design to a single master slide once, as opposed to numerous times to each and every slide used. Remember, each design choice should be deliberate and should help continue the narrative of your training story and emphasize important take-away information.

For more information on how MATC Group can help you make your documentation memorable and user-friendly, contact us today.


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