IT Teaching Resources

Boosting awareness with digital design tools

How to apply design tips to boost course or event offerings using ready-made templates

Article Technology Tool

Presenter: Christina Fajardo, Academic Technology Specialist
Recording of the session:

Presentation Slides

Central Questions:

  • Which key elements can I use in every design?
  • Which Canva tools enhance awareness of events, courses, offerings, etc.
  • Which digital designs are best for email, Slack, and printed flyers?

Key Quotes:

Your primary audience is the intended audience: the decision-maker who will receive your announcement or message directly. And your secondary audience is the second-most important group, so while they may not be the intended audience, they can still be influenced to take your course or attend your event. (03:21)

Think of flyers like an elevator pitch: It only has seconds to capture and retain reader attention with the goal of leaving an impression, and ultimately, a commitment to sign up for the course or event. (3:48)

When you start applying text to your design, you should aim for the total amount of text to be at least 20% or less of the total design space—meaning, it should not overpower the document. Negative space is good here. (08:47)

[You can add] a list of opportunities that you, the instructor, or the course will provide after taking this class. This helps prospective students understand how this course can help their career or academic pathways. (09:59)

Since it’s a small design, you’ll want to keep it to the least amount of dominant colors possible—2-3 perhaps—and simple graphics and images that don’t overwhelm the message. (13:37)


Central Questions for Your Design

  • Who is your audience? Primary vs. Secondary
  • What are the interest areas of the course or event?
  • How can I tie this design to the course’s or event’s bigger picture?

Design Tips and Tricks

  • Identify your audience
    • The primary audience is the intended group who will receive communications directly.
    • The secondary audience is the second-most important group who might be interested to sign up for the course or event.
    • An example of primary vs. secondary audience: A GSE staff person wants to bring awareness to a GSE-facing event that is also applicable to the broader Stanford community. The GSE community is the primary audience, and other Stanford departments and their communities would be the secondary audience.
  • Simple and neutral design
    • Choose neutral images that supplement the theme of the course or event to visually enhance, but not overwhelm, the message or topic.
      • Avoid using images or drawings of people as they can unintentionally exclude certain groups.
    • Consider limiting the number of dominant colors to 2-3 in an effort to avoid visual overstimulation.
  • Concise text
    • Need-to-know information such as date, time, location, and modality (online, hybrid, or in-person) should be included.
    • Supportive text such as a course or event description, a student’s testimonial, or an announcement of guest speakers should be short and succinct.
    • The total amount of text should be 20% or less of the document to help reduce cognitive load.
  • Design size and shape 
    • Examples of mediums: print, online (website), email, and social media.
    • Select a small square design for digital mediums like Slack and social media as they will most likely be seen on a mobile device.
    • Use a standard 8.5” by 11” size for printed flyers to hang on bulletin boards and campus kiosks.

Example Canva Templates

Additional Resources