Custom eLearning: 4 Fundamental Ingredients to Set Your eLearning Content Development on Fire

Top 4 Proven Instructional Design Strategies to Enhance eLearning

Skilled Instructional Designers are similar to Master Chefs! They cook the dish of quality eLearning in all formats – custom eLearning content development, rapid eLearning, mobile learning or microlearning. Whichever may be the eLearning format, the core ingredients they use determine the learner’s appetite for learning. Keeping these ingredients handy can help instructional designers create effective eLearning content that promotes in-depth learning which brings behavioral changes as well as improves on-job performance.

There’s no space for bad eLearning design.

(Don’t let your learners struggle to retain the information. It’s a sin.)

As a committed eLearning professional, it’s high time to give your learners a break from the monotonous or traditional eLearning. Let the custom eLearning you create be grilled, stuffy and spicy enough to grab and hold learner’s attention throughout the eLearning courseware.

Let’s now explore the 4 core ingredients that add the blended flavor of instructional design and visual design to eLearning Content Development.

1. Set the Context with a Compelling Intro

Let the first 60 seconds of your eLearning course, the introduction part, be engaging, inviting and interesting. Introduction in eLearning is the most essential part of an eLearning course and can’t be ignored. A clear and engaging eLearning course introduction:

  • Draws learner’s attention and sets the tone for the entire eLearning course
  • Provides the rationale and purpose behind the course
  • Gives a sneak-peek into course content – what they are going to learn

In simple terms, it should be a short promotional teaser power-packed with all the elements that answer the learner’s question – “What’s in it for me?”

A Compelling Intro Could Be…

An informative title, a relevant image, a compelling story, a video/audio excerpt from industry experts, or a shocking statistic, followed by appealing learning objectives.

2. Make it More Personalized by Adding Human Touch

Relevancy is the key. Adult learners seek relevance in the learning process. So the best way to hook them is to make your eLearning more contextual, more personalized and more human – Custom eLearning.

“One-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work for eLearning. Embrace the learner-centered approach to creating a personalized learning environment. Study the learner profile and tailor the eLearning content relevant to his/her needs, preferences, learning styles and job descriptions.

Here are the different ways to personalize your eLearning.

  • Draft a compelling narrative while maintaining the conversational tone as if you are directly talking to the learner
  • Introduce avatars/course jockeys/ virtual instructors to bring the personalized feeling to the learner. Let the avatar address the learner in first or second person
  • Provide the customized feedback specific to each response
  • Create responsive eLearning so that learner can access the course from any device
  • Address the learner with his/her name with the same name throughout the course
  • Explain the benefits of taking the eLearning course from the learner’s job perspective

3. Leverage the Visuals and Videos to the Best for Interactive Elearning

Is your eLearning course inviting and interesting enough to pull your learners?

If your answer is No, then “Show, don’t tell”.

Visuals/Videos are one of the most powerful ingredients to set your course on fire. And leveraging them makes common sense if you are aiming for simple, memorable and impactful eLearning.

A relevant graphic expedites the learning process by making the complex concepts easy to digest as opposed to a large chunk of text. It minimizes the cognitive load on the learner and elicits the emotional response. On the other hand, unrelated graphics and redundant on-screen text turn out to be a distraction. White spaces reduce the clutter on the screen so use it thoughtfully. Keep it simple.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words then the video may be worth a million.” Incorporating videos into eLearning a.k.a. video-based e-Learning is one of the best strategies to engage the learners.
Select the right graphic for your content is essential.

Content Type Graphics to be used
Procedures Representational or
transformational visuals
Concepts Diverse representational
or interpretive visuals
Facts Representational and
mnemonic visuals
Process Transformational visuals
Principles Explanatory visuals

Source: Graphics for Learning by Ruth C. Clark

4. Reinforce Why Taking eLearning Course is Significant

No matter how well you design the eLearning course, if you don’t provide the reasons for learning, the adults will not be active learners. In order to promote active learning, you should reinforce the importance of taking the course. This can be achieved by answering “what’s in it for me?” as well as providing regular personalized feedback wherever necessary.

Put yourself into the learner’s shoes and ask: “How this piece of eLearning is going to change my performance?”

Grab and hold the learner’s attention by:

  • Providing compelling reasons why the learners have to go through the online training
  • Explaining why they need to master the particular skillset
  • Explaining how the course can bring the desired behavioral changes
  • Asking thought-provoking questions to think and reflect
  • Providing opportunities for more practice


Now that you have rightly blended the essential eLearning ingredients, the impactful “online training” dish is ready to be served. It facilitates deep learning which promotes behavioral changes and on-job performances. That’s why I call Instructional designers as Master Chefs who design the learning experiences creating an appetite for learning!

What do you think are the most important ingredients for an effective eLearning recipe? Let us know in the comments section below!

1 reply
  1. Paul Walker
    Paul Walker says:

    Many great ideas shared in this article. Thanks for sharing! I especially love the two mentioned below.

    “A relevant graphic expedites the learning process by making the complex concepts easy to digest as opposed to a large chunk of text.” Really appreciate this idea of breaking concepts into small manageable parts. Allow the learner to experience success and see the relevance of segment(s) of concepts before beginning to add additional levels.

    “If a picture is worth a thousand words then the video may be worth a million.” Videos can be great ways to capture the attention of learners.


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