Templates for e-Learning

As an active member of the Articulate e-Learning Heroes community, not a week goes by where I’m not inspired by the creativity of these talented community members.

Recently members were challenged to design and share a course starter template.  Course starter templates are “multi-slide templates that include a combination of the most common e-Learning content and interaction slides.  They provide a structure to the design, layout and flow of an e-Learning course and include enough slides to give users a working model from which they can begin assembling their projects”.

The thought process behind this challenge was that this could be beneficial for new e-Learning designers and developers. A number of members very generously shared not only their designs, but their source files as well and you can view and access these in this post.

Everyone has their own process for designing a course, whether the design starts with the creation of a template or not. This challenge was a good opportunity for me to reflect on and document the process I go through when I’m developing a template.

How I develop a template in Articulate Storyline 2

I usually allow myself a little time at the beginning of designing a template to “play” before I start working through the process of developing the template.  If there’s no time pressure, I can spend a lot of time in this phase – but as we all know, this isn’t always possible!

This creative time generally includes the following:

  • Identifying up front if there are any design constraints or assets that are to be provided that would dictate the template design
  • Revisiting previous templates I’ve designed or worked on and see if any of the design elements or concepts would be appropriate for the new template design – often it’s the case that I can re-purpose a previous project and this is a huge time-saver
  • Searching generically within the industry the template is being designed for, looking for inspiration and design ideas

I start by looking at images / websites / designs relevant to the course topic – this could include sites such as Shutterstock, WeeJeeCanva, Pinterest, Fribly, Behance or Dribbble, just to name a few – I even look at sites such as SlideHelper, Presentation Magazine, Creative Market or some of the sites that sell templates such as eLearning Chips, eLearning Brothers or Skillsdox

I then move on to sourcing the design elements such as any images that may dictate the colour scheme or size of the template slides.  During this phase I make sure I have a good understanding of what will be included in the course as far as content, icons, multimedia, quizzes etc to cater for any specific requirements in the design to include these assets.

When I’m developing a template in Articulate Storyline 2, there are a number of elements that I like to customise to make sure the template can be effectively converted and used for different styles of courses, different client requirements and even different clients. These include:

  • the story size
  • the course player
  • the theme fonts
  • the theme colours

I use the Slide Master for the slide layouts and slide design elements that will remain consistent throughout the course. Within the Slide Master there is also provision to select a theme and edit the theme colours and fonts.

I also make sure I edit the Feedback Master as the design that comes standard with Articulate Storyline 2 is not very often appropriate for use without some modifications. The Feedback Master also has provision to select a theme and edit the theme colours and fonts.


With the Slide Master and the Feedback Master, I always retain the original masters of these and insert new ones to use for my design modifications – this way if something goes terribly wrong I can revert back to the original masters and use these elements to get me back on track.

If I take the time to customise all of these elements, the final template will be much more efficient to work with and any changes I need to make to the design can be easily applied at the master slide level, saving development time overall.

You can read more about my design process and view an interactive demo of a course starter template I recently designed by clicking on the image below.


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