4 Elements of Excellent

Elements of Excellent E-Learning Courses

Damian Hehire-learning, General

4 Elements of Excellent E-Learning Courses

A list including everything that should and could be in an e-learning course would run into hundreds of elements, from design features to technical considerations to content elements. While most of those components and features are relevant, there are four absolutely essential elements that, when optimised, make e-learning courses excellent.

That last point is important as not only should these elements be included in the best e-learning courses, but they should also be prioritised and optimised. By concentrating your efforts on the following four areas of e-learning course design, you will maximise your return on investment and get the best possible results.

Clear Navigation

Usability is a crucial component of the learner experience, and clear, intuitive, and simple navigation is a cornerstone of usability. Without good navigation, learners will become frustrated with the course, elements could be missed, and, ultimately, the content will not reach its full potential.

In other words, you could invest in great content and design, but it will all fall down if you don’t have good navigation.

One of the secrets to great navigation in e-learning design is that it should go unnoticed. Instead of the learner having to think about the navigation with questions like “what should I do next” or “what button should I press”, they should effortlessly and naturally flow through the course. Creating navigation that has these characteristics will greatly improve your e-learning course.

Highly Relevant and Focused Content

The next element of great e-learning courses relates to content, but there are specific points that are crucial to ensure full optimisation. Sure, the content should be well-written and presented, and it should be comprehensive, engaging, and error-free, but the following two considerations should be given the highest levels of priority:

  • Relevant to the learner – your content could be completely excellent but still fall flat if it is not relevant to the learner. Therefore, it is essential you ensure the content is relevant to the learner’s day-to-day experience, current capability levels, and expectations for the course.
  • Highly focused – e-learning courses too often include filler content that doesn’t add any value as well as content that doesn’t directly apply to the topic, learning outcomes, and objectives of the course. This type of content is distracting, it gets in the way of the valuable content, and it wastes the time of learners. The best e-learning courses have content that is laser-focused on the topic at hand.

Consistent Design with Engaging and Professional Visuals

E-learning courses can adopt a variety of different design styles, with a typical approach being to match the design of the course with the company’s branding. Whatever design style you choose, one of the most important aspects is to ensure consistency:

  • Consistency within an individual e-learning course, with all the screens, content sections, and design elements maintaining a consistent appearance. This includes everything from colour palette consistency to typography consistency to the consistency in the size and spacing of content elements.
  • Design consistency across your library of e-learning courses to optimise the overall learning experience. It can also be beneficial to have design consistency across all learning materials, not just e-learning courses.

In addition to design consistency, it is also important to have professional visuals:

  • Photos
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Animations
  • Graphics
  • Charts
  • Infographics
  • Icons
  • Backgrounds
  • Graphical design features

The best e-learning courses are highly visual training tools, so cutting corners in the creation and use of visuals will limit the potential of your course.


One of the main advantages of choosing e-learning over other training delivery methods is the ability to engage learners with interactive elements. This includes scenarios, quizzes, interactive videos, and gamified elements.

Not only should you include interactive elements in your e-learning course, but they should also be optimised. Take quizzes as an example. They are often viewed as a tool to check the progress of learners, i.e., have learners fully grasped the knowledge, skills, and concepts presented in the content? However, the best e-learning courses also use quizzes as a learning tool, further enhancing the learner experience.

The interactive elements in an e-learning course can be the most time-consuming and costly to develop, but they are also the elements that can elevate the course and produce the best possible results. Therefore, adding high-quality interactivity is a time and financial investment that is worth making.

Prioritising the Key Components of Excellent E-Learning Courses

The e-learning development process involves multiple steps, tasks, and milestones. Maintaining a continuous focus on the four key design elements highlighted in this blog will help improve the overall quality of the end product. The learner experience will also be optimised, and you will maximise return on investment.