How to Balance Instructional Design Visuals that Avoid Cognitive Overload with Rachel Allen Dillon

October 5, 2022
4 minutes
Rachel Allen Dillon joined #IDIODC October 5.

Visual design is a big part of building successful learning experiences. Whether you’re an instructional designer producing training or an ID that manages a team that creates your vision, you have to be tuned into the presentation of visual information. How slides are laid out can make, or break, the learning experience.

Rachel Allen Dillon returned to IDIODC with more powerful visual designs that enhance your instructional designs. By following just a few simple visual design rules, an ID can strike the right balance when presenting material to make it efficient, effective, and engaging. The first step is knowing how the brain processes new information. Then, recognizing common visual design mistakes that slow down the learning process. Finally, which design principles can be applied to minimize visual distractions.

Catch Rachel's tips on visual design and avoiding cognitive overload.

To see all the comments from the chat, check out the full session right here.  

And to ask more questions, or participate in extended conversations about this episode, please join us in the IDIODC LinkedIn Group.  

About Rachel Allen Dillon

Rachel Allen Dillon graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1994, with a Bachelor of Science in Art, with an emphasis in Graphic Design. For over 25 years, Rachel has utilized her visual design skills in every facet of her professional development, from marketing materials to web design and now with instructional design. Every step of her career has embodied a creative element and even in her spare time, she found ways to express herself through her artwork and writing. 

In 2009, her non-fiction children’s book, “Through Endangered Eyes – a poetic journey into the wild,” was published by Windward Publishing, an imprint of Finney Company, now Rowman & Littlefield. She is both the author and illustrator. Her book received an Eric Hoffer Honorable Mention award in 2010. Rachel was a featured artist in “Wildscape Magazine,” a contributing artist in gallery and museum exhibitions, and a speaker at Art Educator conventions and conferences.

Rachel taught art and developed the art curriculum at a private elementary school for three years before going back to the corporate world. Her focus shifted to a field that combines her skillset of design and teaching. In 2017, Rachel became a full-time instructional designer, a career she loves. She taught a course in eLearning Visual Design and Architecture, and Instructional Design 101, at CSU Sacramento-CCE. She is excited to have presented at Learning Guild online conferences in 2020 and 2021 and at DevLearn 2021. Her goal is to share with other instructional designers’ important techniques to improve their visual design and page layouts. 

In 2019, Rachel earned a graduate certificate in eLearning Instructional Design from the University of California, Irvine Extension Program. Rachel went on to get a Master of Science in Instructional Design & Technology from CSU Fullerton in May 2022. Her thesis focused on the importance of applying visual design principles to eLearning to reduce cognitive load. Rachel is currently a Manager of Learning and Development in Legal Affairs at a US telecom company.


Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee (Affectionately known as IDIODC) is a weekly live videocast and podcast that helps instructional designers with pain points and provides best practices and industry insight.  

Every Wednesday morning at 10am ET hosts Brent Schlenker and Chris Van Wingerden guide us through an upbeat and candid conversation with their guests from the eLearning and training world. The live cast session encourages peers to participate in the chat and share their own personal insight! After airing live, you can catch the learning podcast on all major streams such as Spotify, Apple, and Google Play podcasts, as well as on YouTube.

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