/  2d animation   /  eLearning Course Authoring – Dos and Don’ts

As a media designer and animator. I often run into the issue of courses being written in ways that make it hard to understand visually what an author is implying. Sometimes with very technical subjects, like engineering and computer networking, it is normal for many designers to not understand the author’s intentions.

However, sometimes written storyboards can be so vague that it’s hard to effectively communicate about what is visually needed, and your designer will often make mistakes and ask a lot of questions, causing a lot of wasted time and money for everyone.

Below are a list of Do’s and Don’t for course authors to keep in mind when writing a course for your animator or media designer. Whether you’re an SME or just a freelance writer, these will help you communicate your intentions to your partnering designer in a way that reduces questions and communication messiness more often than not.

The Do’s:

Do Create a Legend or Naming Convention that Applies to any Premade Visual Assets:

This won’t work for every storyboard or course, but this is something that can reduce a lot of confusion. If you have naming conventions that are listed next to your master Illustrator, AfterEffects, or 3d files this can help your designer file the right asset you’re talking about quickly, and reduces the amount of questions they may need to ask.

If you need a designer to get an asset you’re talking about, and they aren’t on your native network, it’s easy to just put the legend or naming convention they’ll need to grab right into the storyboard.

Do Put Example Photos into Your Storyboards:

If you can find any example photos of the kind of asset you’d like to see into your storyboard, with any notes over them to clarify things, it’s best to do this. It’ll help reduce confusion and help your designer visually figure out what you need.

Do Try and Make Your Callouts for Different Visuals Consistent:

I’ve personally run into this problem a few times. If you have a legend or naming convention for any assets, please please be consistent in how you list said assets in your storyboards.

Try your best to never be vague about how you list assets. Often times with large courses you’ll have several designers working on different pieces and so one may understand what you mean by “table that does the thing in topic a”, but another one might have no idea, and if they’re offsite, it’ll be especially hard for them to get what they need in order to deliver things on time.

So always be consistent in how you list things, and try to be as clear as possible.

The Don’ts:

Don’t Assume A Designer will Understand Your Subject Matter:

If you’re a subject matter expert, it’s often hard to step outside of yourself when you’re talking about a subject. I’ve worked with engineers and watched them be sad and frustrated with me that I don’t understand fluid dynamics or how machine parts function.

Typically all of my questions are basic or filled with confusion. In fact, most of the time my assumptions about an engineering process was completely backward. Which meant a lot of time sitting down with my course author and SME trying to translate things to me they obviously understood and were sad they couldn’t easily get across to me.

Most designers will not be experts in what you know, and this will often be frustrating for your team and you personally. One of the best course authors I worked with had a motto when she authored courses; she tried to write her storyboards so that they would make sense to an eight-year-old.

I think a frame of mind like this will make your courses easier to both write and read. It will often reduce confusion in your designer and other team members, and this makes everything work smoother.

Don’t Leave Out Other Resources Or Reading That Might Helper Your Designer Understand:

If your storyboard is truly difficult to communicate, if you can find any further research or reading that might help, be sure to include it. If the designer is lazy and doesn’t read what you sent them, or ask enough questions, you did your best to educate them. That’s all you can really do.

Don’t Overexplain in Your Writing:

What I mean by this is to strive for brevity and clarity in your storyboards. Sometimes when you’re communicating a complicated idea to an audience, you can tend to overwrite, or try and explain something three or four different ways. Do not do this unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Overexplaining can affect a learner’s ability to retain an idea. Always ask yourself if a certain concept or explanation can be said more precisely, quicker, clearly. If it can, rewrite it to be that way, always.

As Shakespeare says: “Brevity is the soul of wit”, and wit is important in communicating ideas clearly.

Want to get posts delivered to your inbox as they’re posted every Tuesday?

You can sign up for Yon Yonder Weekly below. You’ll be alerted every week once a new post is live on our blog:

Sign up here:

* indicates required