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Media design principles

When designing a new PowerPoint presentation, video, animation, workbook, or other multimedia presentation it is best practice to follow a number of evidenced-based principles on instructional design.

These principles are based on an individual’s ability to take in information that is aligned to their cognitive capacity. The 12 principles are as follows:

1. Coherence

Exclude extraneous words, pictures and sounds

  • Only include images, text and narration that link to the learning objectives (i.e., don’t use unrelated images, logos or supplemental materials)
  • Do not use music in the background to add ambience
  • Use simple visuals that are specifically related to the content

2. Signalling

Provide cues to highlight the organisation of the essential material

  • Draw attention to important and relevant information by using the cursor or highlight arrows and other visual cues

3. Redundancy

Use graphics and spoken narration only, rather than graphics, narration and on-screen text; use narration of words, rather than narration and on-screen text.

  • When narrating a presentation, use either graphics or text, but not both.
  • Reduce the amount/use of text during a narrated presentation.

4. Spatial Contiguity

Place corresponding words and pictures near each other on-page and screen, rather than separate

  • Position text in close proximity to the graphics/pictures it refers to.
  • Provide the text to be read in advance of an animation or graphic being presented.

5. Temporal Contiguity

Present words and pictures simultaneously rather than successively.

  • Time the narration so that it plays along with the animation or drawing

6. Modality

Present words as narration rather than as on-screen text.

  • During a narrated presentation with images and graphics, only use on-screen text where necessary (ie, listing key steps, providing direction for next steps)

7. Multimedia

Present words and pictures rather than words alone.

  • Include images and graphics to present key information
  • Only use images and graphics to enhance and clarify
  • Use static images where possible or images that build up in complexity (ie progressive/generative drawing)

8. Segmenting

Present content with the learner able to control delivery, rather than as a continuous unit.

  • Use speed control and stop functions on videos
  • Deliver long sections of information in chunks with suitable breaks

9. Pre-training

Present students with media they are familiar and comfortable using.

  • Provide and clarify key terms prior to delivering an integrative task (ie, glossary, FAQ, Fact sheet)
  • Provide clarity on the usability of the learning tool

10. Personalisation

Present narration in a conversational style rather than formal style.

  • Use language contractions
  • Use extemporaneous speech over heavily scripted

11. Voice

Use spoken voice in a friendly human tone for multimedia presentations rather than a machine voice.

  • Use the voice of someone familiar to the student group, and avoid machine voice

12. Image

It is not necessary to include an image of the speaker when delivering a presentation.

  • Include an image of yourself when you are trying to establish a social presence or there are no words or pictures
  • Don’t include a side box video of the narrator or instructor

Adapted form Mayer. RE, Multimedia Learning, 2009  and Principles of Multimedia Learning