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5 Visual distractions to avoid when designing your online course

Online learning implies multiple challenges that both instructors and learners have to face. Learners need to develop and use their attention skills to engage with an online course, while instructors try their best to offer the best instruction to suit their needs.

An online course provides self-paced learning solutions that fit into the learner's schedule. However, learners want to have their needs met regardless of how they study. For this reason, you should consider the design of your online course to create the perfect learning environment for them.

As an online course creator, you have to consider how to make your course more straightforward. Learners need it to be well-designed to maintain their focus.

That's why you should consider a few things when designing your course in terms of visual distractions that can impede learning and completion.

Here are six things to avoid in your course to eliminate potential distractions:

1. Dull content

Learning online needs to be engaging from the very beginning; otherwise, learners will find something else to entertain them. To avoid possible distractions, you should provide your content in different formats that are more appealing to learners and even vary across modules.

Also, your content should be coherent throughout your course, just like the chapters of a story. We want our learners connected to the course content individually. Still, we should also focus on providing opportunities to socialize with others on aspects related to the content they need to learn. This makes the content easier to understand and remember since people are emotional learners and feel part of the story.

2. "Immobile" layout

Learning does not only occur in front of a screen. Your learners may choose to read or listen on the go. For this reason, the formats of your course have to be mobile-friendly. This way, you can offer your learners more opportunities for learning throughout the day and give them a sense of achievement even when they have a busy schedule and cannot study very much.

Making sure the layout of your course is adequately seen on mobile devices to offer learners equal access to information and equity for learning. This is important because learners come from different socio-economic backgrounds and have access to different resources. There are plenty of learners who don't own laptops or PCs or simply prefer learning on smartphones or tablets.

3. Cognitive overload

Although you may want to offer your learners everything you know in your field of expertise, it's advisable not to overload your course with irrelevant information. Moreover, too much information can be difficult to digest. It could lead to cognitive overload, which translates into learners' incapacity to choose the relevant information and ultimately fail to complete the course.

Your courses should provide simple content focused on key elements for understanding. This will give learners the right amount of information to understand the subject and confidence to achieve great results. It doesn't mean you provide too little; it means you give your learners the chance to complete your course and reach the outcomes you set for them.

Read more: 5 Things to remember if you don’t want to overstuff your online course

4. Lack of structure

Whether you have a lengthy course or a short and easy-to-manage course, learners need to receive information in appropriate bite-sized sequences. This way, learners can study anytime, anywhere, and can decide on the amount of knowledge they will study at a given time.

People need to navigate through a simple and clear structure to manage their learning hours and have a clear picture of what your course is about and how much time they need to finish it. This helps put things into perspective and allows learners to plan their studying hours.

Read more: 4 Ways to create meaningful microlearning in your online course

5. Irrelevant images and videos

Images and videos contribute to an interactive learning experience, but only if they have meaning attributed to them. Irrelevant content distracts your learners' attention and offers no benefits to the learning process.

Images should reinforce knowledge, not hinder it. You need to know who your audience is to avoid using images that might be offending or disturbing. Videos, on the other hand, are interactive ways to engage students with the content of your course and are especially beneficial when introduced to give explanations or alternate between different content formats. Either way, make sure there is significance in difference when it comes to content formats.

However, you need to find balance in terms of video design and content. Learning can be jeopardized if your videos are too long, too complex, or too colorful.

Read more: 5 Benefits of choosing the video format for your online course


Online courses are a great solution to learning nowadays, giving people all over the world the chance to educate themselves and grow personally and professionally.

To help them navigate through an online learning experience, you should consider the design of your course with your learners in mind.

Ensure it is clear and straightforward, relevant and engaging, inclusive, and motivating to avoid all possible distractions and increase the completion rates. To do so, you need to be consistent throughout your course in terms of content and design. It gives your learners a sense of familiarity and facilitates their success.

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