Creating an eLearning Style Guide

When I start a new eLearning project, one of the first things I do when it comes to the visual design for a module, is to see whether the client has a corporate style guide or branding document. This document sets out the colours for the client including RGB codes, as well as their typeface styles and size, and the type of imagery they use in their marketing. Once I have this document I refer to it consistently to ensure that the visual design of the learning I am building matches their corporate look and feel, and is easily recognised as being ‘theirs’.

What do you do if they don’t have this type of document? Well you can make your own!

Making a style guide for an client is relatively straight forward and provides you with a one page reference to ensure that you are ‘on brand’ with a client. This becomes invaluable as you start to design the visuals of your content. I start with a PowerPoint template that I have made for this purpose:

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It’s pretty straight forward. It has some boxes on it that I will use to capture the client’s colours; a space for their logo; maybe a screen capture of their website for some inspiration; a place to record their corporate fonts, and some space to capture any other interesting assets I may fine. O

First I’ll locate a copy of their logo. Most organisations have a logo of some kind, you can usually locate it online, or the client will send you a copy of it. For my example I’m going to pretend my client is the Ice Hockey team the Calgary Mustangs out of Canada (no real reason why I’ve chosen them. I’m not an avid ice hockey fan or all things Canadian, I just googled logos and liked theirs!). So after capturing their logo and webpage my guide looks like this:

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Easy start.

Now that I have the log and the website I can start capturing their corporate colours. One of the handiest tool available in most image based software programs is the eyedropper tool:

This humble little tool give a visual designer a lot of power. I can use the eyedropper tool to pull the colours out of the logo and fill out my colour boxes. To do this in PowerPoint you:

  1. Select a box
  2. Select the format tab on the ribbon
  3. Click the little drop down arrow next to the shape fill option
  4. Select the eyedropper tool
  5. Then click on one of the colours in the logo to capture it

Your box will change to match the colour you selected with the eyedropper tool.

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Colour 1 captured. Now repeat the process to get the rest:

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Now we have our colours for our design. I’ve grabbed the two blues and the yellow out of the logo, and the warm grey from the website. To transfer these colours to another software package you can write down the RGB code shown when you hover over the colour with the eyedropper, or you can select the coloured box you want the RGB code for and then click Format > Shape Fill > More Fill Colours > Custom to discover what it is.

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Colours done! Now what about the fonts?
Firstly, always ask them if they know what font they use. Most of the time they can let you know which font is used in their marketing material. If they don’t know, or you can ‘t locate somone to assist, there are some other ways to discover what fonts they use.

There are a couple of programs that will allow you to upload an image of a font, and it will do it’s best to match the font to any in its database. They are:
http://www.identifont.com/
https://www.fontsquirrel.com/matcherator
https://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

I’ve had mixed results with these websites. Some matches are spot on, but others are way off. Have a play and see how you go.
The easiest way I have found to work out what fonts they use is to refer to the website.
Open the website in your browser and then press F12 if you are using Internet Explorer, (in any other browser select the menu item View > Source). In IE this will take you to the Developer’s Console. Don’t be scared! You’re not going to break anything here, and we’re only looking for the font types they have used. Select the menu item DOM explorer, and on the right hand side of the screen you will see a reference to the font family used:

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The font used here is Roboto Condensed. Yay! Now we know the font we need!

You may already have it, or at least you know the name of the font to locate at a later date.

If you can’t find the reference as above, or if you are using another browser, use the Find menu option by pressing CTRL + F, and search for ‘font-family’ in the HTML code to discover which font they have used.

Now knowing the font, I make a note about it on my style guide, and if installed I change my title and body text to mat

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Looking good! My style guide mostly done!

The last part is other assets. Here is where I make a note or grab a screen capture of any other related assets that I may use some visual design inspiration.

The Mustangs have an interesting title banner that they use throughout the site, so I’ve grabbed a quick screen capture of it as a source of inspiration for any title banners I may need to create as part of my design. Also, I’ can’t forget that they are first and foremost an ice hockey team, so I grab a quick picture of one of their players in uniform for further ideas.

Here is what my style guide now looks like:

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I’m all done! I’ve now got a quick one page reference to the style of the Mustangs, to assist me when it comes to building the design concept for my module. The last thing to do is confirm with my client that I have hit the mark for their style before launching into full design concept mode.

Making a style guide is quick and easy, and is advantageous when you want to get a quick feel for a client’s style before launching into full visual design mode. Keep this with your project materials to refer to whenever you need.

Happy style-guiding!

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