How To Write Training That Works: creative design


How to write training that worksWriting training material is a specialized job. But often, in a small business, nonprofit organization, charity or similar circumstances, there isn’t the budget to bring in a specialized supplier. Here’s the HTWB solution, with Jackson Rawlings…

To see all articles in the How To Write Training That Works series, check out the category “Training That Works” in the side bar to the right —>>>

This week I’m going to explore the side of training that’s traditionally seen to be less regimented or even objectively approachable than say business or management training.

I asked our design trainer Sharon, who  runs our Photoshop Course and InDesign training, among others, what her top tips would be for training in the more creative industries like graphic or web design.

Here are her top 5 –

Be adaptable

A more general training tip here but one that is especially relevant to the design industries.

Strengths and weaknesses of delegates may be harder to measure in this type of field so it’s important to be able to pick up the nuances of their responses or questions and adjust your program to fit them.

If, for example, a delegate is struggling with one medium then it may be worth suggesting alternatives.

Also, sometimes creative people find that the ‘standard’ explanations don’t work for them so be prepared to alter your approach if need be.

Flexibility is key to all good training, and especially for teaching creative-types. That means when you’re creating your training material, having a general framework to work around instead of a minute-by-minute plan is the best option.

Get everyone on the same level

As mentioned, gauging skill levels in this type of industry can be difficult because so much is subjective, but one thing that can be measured is technical understanding.

It is imperative then to have everyone up to as similar a standard technically as possible.

Let’s take Photoshop training as an example: there are many ways to do things in this particular program but a lot of things can be done faster with keyboard shortcuts. Knowing these keyboard shortcuts is an attainable skill for anyone and therefore something that can be standardized across the course.

When writing the training material then, think about the essential technical skills that each delegate should know by the end of the course

Having everyone at the same level technically, allows for their true creativity to flourish.

Get them to create something

How to write training that works for graphic designWe touched on this last time: having something tangible that people can see unfold before them is the most effective training method there is.

This is definitely the case with design-based training – how can you can be confident designing something, if you haven’t actually designed anything on the course?!

Let their creative side run riot and just prompt them with help on the technical skills as and when they need it. Factor in more hands-on time when creating the material than for a ‘drier’ subject like business, finance etc.

Prepare a ‘take-away’ pack

When teaching creative design skills, it’s important that the delegates are able to go home and practise the skills that they have learnt after the course the course has ended.

As such, when creating your material, it’s a good idea to write with that ‘post-course’ learner in mind. That means making everything as clear as possible so that topics can still be understood without necessarily having the context of the course to explain them.

Bold, bright and spacious is a good policy to adopt because it makes the material more engaging and understandable – something that is essential if you aren’t there to guide them!

Spend as long as possible preparing

I asked Sharon how long she spent writing material and her answer might shock you: months (if possible)!

Creating material then is for her, and should be for you, a labour of love because afterall, you need to enjoy something to spend that much time doing it.

For the creative industries, preparing course documents way in advance means that you are able to really focus on the look and feel of the material, something that can’t be understated when teaching subjects like this.

Obviously you may not have that long to prepare but the key here is to spend as much time as you can preparing – a lazy job will be obvious to all.

So there you have some top tips for creating training material for design-based subjects. Next time, we’ll be taking another subject and discussing how to best write training resources for it.

Next time, we’ll be looking at another niche and giving some tips specific to writing for that subject matter.

Don’t forget – to see all articles in the How To Write Training That Works series, check out the category “Training That Works” in the side bar to the right —>>>

How to write training that works

Jackson Rawlings

Thanks for reading!


Jackson Rawlings
Digital Marketer
Silicon Beach Training

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photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML via photopin cc