Best Practices to Engage Visuals Learners

Most of us process information based on what we see. In fact, approximately 65% of the population are visual learners. (Mind Tools 1998) So what does this mean for online course developers? We need to be very sensitive to how we present information. Don’t be a visual learner’s worst nightmare. I doubt any online course developer sets out to be the Freddy Krueger of online learning. Banish those nightmares by following these 4 simple guidelines when developing your next online course.

The goal is to eliminate all distractions so your audience can get about the task at hand: Learning!


  1. Visuals with a Purpose
    1. Visuals like pictures, graphs, charts, and screen shots are great to use in online learning, but they must have a purpose. The visuals you use should directly relate to the content and information you are presenting. If a course teaches how to install Microsoft Windows you wouldn’t include pictures of puppies and kittens. There is no relationship between puppies and kittens and the content. Thus, confusing the learner. Instead, use images of screens displayed during the install process with instructions.
    2. Be every discerning and deliberate when using visuals in the training. Put yourself in the shoes of your visual learner and ask yourself, does this visual have a purpose by enhancing the content? If you answer no, delete it.

  2. The X and Y
    1. The positioning of your content on your slides/pages must be consistent. Meaning, your headers, body text, and call out text should be on the same X and Y position for every page/slide of your content. If the position of these text elements isn't in the same location on each slide/page, it gives the appearance of font jumping around on the page when the learner navigates through the course. The visual learners will sink deeper and deeper into that nightmare as they navigate the course.
    2. Text jump is not acceptable. Take the time to line up your text boxes using the X and Y positioning in your online authoring tool. It may seem insignificant, but it isn’t. Don’t give your learners any reason to be distracted or disengaged during training.

  3. Font Frenzy
    1. Visual learners don’t only learn by visuals, text is a powerful tool for learning as well. Be consistent and deliberate with the font you use. This includes: Color, Size, BOLD, Italics, etc. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. You’ll notice how confusing it was to read my examples above. The visual learner needs consistency to stay focused on content and not text. Pick a font and stick with it.
      1. Color – Use the same color for all your headers. Use the same color for all your body text. Use the same color for all your call out text. Each of these can differ, but the main categories should use the same color.
      2. Size – Use the same size font across all headers, body text and call out text.
      3. Bold and Italics – Be sparing how you use these in your text. They are great to call out key points. Keep in mind, italics can sometimes be hard to read in online training outputs.

The moral of this story: Consistency. Consistency will turn nightmares into learning experiences that ignite potential, not nightmares. Ignite the potential in your learners, by following these simple guidelines to effective and engaging online training.