Have you heard of the halo effect? No? Yes? Maybe?
Researchers have been looking into the effects of attractiveness for decades. The results show that being considered attractive generally means that other people treat you better. “We assume attractive people have positive qualities that have nothing to do with their physical attractiveness,” says Lauren Human, an assistant professor of psychology at McGill University. Source: Vice.com
But, the halo effect doesn't just apply to people. It applies to your online courses too. In other words, when your content looks attractive, people become more interested in it. They remember it better too!
When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. Source: Brain Rules
So if you have beautiful-looking courses, you're going to make a bigger impact on your students.
Where to Start Branding Your Online Courses
Content Sparks has a slew of tutorials on how to brand your content. However, the first place I start is Deposit Photos. It's here that I choose a central image for the theme of my slides, handouts, course books, and action guide.
For my rebel author project I chose this image:
The image represents the growth of someone writing a book, which is what the rebel author project is all about. Because it's a paid image, there will be fewer people using it. I'm all for free stock images, and sites like Pixabay and Pexels are my fave places… But everyone can use what I use from there. So, I make it a little tougher to “steal” my concepts by investing in the course photos.
For the module title slides, I use a different image, but on the same theme. Deposit Photos allows me to search for colours as well as photos from the same photographer and the same model.
The same colour elements are in the image – the red from rebel author project is there on the lips of the model. She's typing, so she's obviously writing a book. She's a little dishevelled.
And like the main image, as someone goes through the online course, she polishes up and looks wonderful when she's finished writing her book.
But What About the Course Book & Action Guide?
Here's where the real magic happens. I have templates set up that I can drag and drop my images into, swap out the text, and in minutes have beautiful course slides. Here's an example:
Because I have templates, creating the action guide and the coursebook is quick and easy. It's just a matter of copying and pasting. If you don't have an assistant to outsource this to, it's a job you can outsource to your teenage children.
Within a few hours, my online course is making an incredible visual impact. Not only is it beautiful, so I can take advantage of the halo-effect, it's quick and easy to do.
The Benefits of Beautiful Content
Beautiful content isn't about the halo-effect alone. Your students need to take the course and get the results that you promised.
- Beautifully branded PDFs help keep your student engaged.
- Infographics make complex data easy to understand and remember.
- And, it's more enjoyable to take a course that isn't a wall of black and white text!
Good design is important when it comes to your student learning. With Content Sparks, you have the great instructional design, where all the research and structuring of the learning experience takes place. But what can you do when it comes to the visual impact?
Images trigger emotions. When you have highly charged visuals in your courses, you tap into that emotion. Happiness is easy to trigger, and so is anger. Anger can be used to drive people towards your course, so the thing that made them angry never happens again. Or, it can be used to steer them away from something that's going to be tough on the student. Nostalgia, on the other hand, is very hard to pull off well in your content. Personally, I steer clear of it. But if you want to see an example of nostalgia done well, check out Cobra Kai on Netflix. This is the story of what happened after the 80's hit film, The Karate Kid. If you grew up with that film, you'll be interested to know what happens next… And at the same time, a whole new generation is introduced to The Karate Kid.
If in doubt on what emotion your images trigger, I recommend sharing them on Facebook and asking. People will tell you exactly what they feel when they see the image.
Before and after images are powerful too.
I mentioned earlier that Ms Dishevelled, writing her book, neatens up. The guy in my first image goes from messy in the book planning stages to neat and well-groomed by the time he's launching his book. The fact he bears a passing resemblance to Bradley Cooper is a happy coincidence. The inference is that when you take this course, you become better. You go from hot mess to book writing success simply by taking the course.
Use Images that Show What to Do. Create an image that shows someone what you are talking about. So if you are writing the words “Click on the orange button under the ‘shop’ tab”, and then showing a screenshot of a mouse clicking on that spot, that would be effective reinforcement for your reader’s learning process. You can use a tool like Snagit to capture and save each step of the process.
Images Enable You to Imagine the Product or Service. Research shows that if someone can imagine what you do, they become more receptive to your message. If you have an online course, how easy is it for your potential students to imagine taking that course?
Showing a visual representation of the course helps their brain make the connection. When you have these style images in your social media marketing and on your sales page, you're helping your student imagine working with you.
Use Fonts to Reinforce Your Message. Take a tip from movie-makers and book cover designers—use fonts to reinforce your message. For example, you will often see fantasy novel book covers with titles in ‘medieval’ or ‘Celtic’ fonts. Or you will see a movie title whose font and font effects reinforce both the actual meaning of the title and its mood. You can see in my first image that the word “Rebel” is in red and in a different font to ‘author project'. I'm using the font to back up my message.
Fonts can also aid learning, but it's tricky. For example, if your font is hard to read, your students will retain the information for longer… But, if the font is different in another way, the meaning can change. If you're talking about doing push-ups and the font is hard to read, it becomes harder to be motivated. Because of this, I prefer to keep my font to Open Sans, as it's fast and easy to read. Nick Kolenda has a great article on Font Psychology where you can gain greater insights around fonts and their impact.
There's so much power in beautiful content.
You can use the halo-effect in your course when you make your content look more visually appealing. This, in turn, can be easily done with templates. You'll notice I've shared my slides, my packshots, and my course visuals here. What if I told you they didn't look like that prior to this post? What if I showed you these:
Welcome to Beautiful Brandable Course Templates.
These beautiful course slides are just part of a pack that we've put together for you. You get everything you need, and some lovely bonuses, so you can create visually high-impact learning experiences for your students.
As well as being easy to customise and visually appealing, you'll love that they fit perfectly with Content Sparks materials.
In our Beautiful Brandable Course Templates (BBC Templates for short), you get:
- Slide additions
- Course Book and Action Guide templates
- Social media scroll-stoppers (worth the price of the pack alone, these 30 scroll stoppers make it so easy to market your course)
- Packshots so your students can visualise working with you
- Some delicious bonuses, so you can create a powerful lead magnet to grow your list and ensure your students get stuff done.
Plus, they're created in Canva. That means you can adapt and edit them easily and effortlessly. In fact, once you start using them, you'll wonder what you ever did without them!
And your students will love how easy you make it for them to learn from you and your courses.
Ready to make your courses beautiful?
No fancy design skills or expensive software needed!