6 eLearning Intro Screen Ideas

eLearning Intro Screens - How to Build

You only have one chance to make a first impression. That’s why the intro, or “splash” screen, is arguably the most important slide in your eLearning course. While it doesn’t change performance, it does set the tone for the learner’s experience. “Does this course look like it is well designed or just thrown together?” The learner answers that question in the first few seconds.

Note: If you scroll down to the bottom of the post, there’s information where you can get some free give-aways.

The goal of the intro screen

When I build a splash screen, I attempt to:

  • Depict the meaning of the course in several seconds
  • Create a good first impression
  • Catch the attention of the learner (visual interest)
  • Create a call to action (note: the examples below don’t all have these as you’ll have to decide what the action is, such as clicking a “launch” button or opening a gate screen with instructions)

Sounds easy enough, but what if you’re not a graphic designer?

It’s ok if you’re not a graphic designer

The problem is, most of us aren’t graphic designers, so creating a decent looking intro screen is a challenge. I can think back to my own struggles when I used to build courses. I’d spend way too much time on the intro slide and often ended up with something that I wasn’t all that happy with.

You’re in luck! All of the examples below are created in PowerPoint using some assets and built in PowerPoint design features.

Designs follow common patterns

Recently, we created 50 editable eLearning intro screens in PowerPoint for our members and there were a few themes that were repeated. What’s really nice about these 6 styles is that all of them have several elements that can easily be changed to create new variations. Swap out a character, background image, or text and you have a new look. Hopefully these designs will inspire you in your next eLearning course.

Create a scene with multiple characters

eLearning Splash Screen Example Scene

I like building scenes that depict the overall meaning of the course. If you’re building out any kind of soft skills training, this can be pretty easy to build with cut out people images. You just pick the emotions that you’re looking for and put them together into a scene.

Use simple icons to portray meaning

eLearning Intro Screen Example Icons

The very nature of icons is that they represent an idea, object, or theme. For example, in the image above, it’s pretty easy to see that the topic is phone based. We just took a simple icon, overlaid it on top of a background, and added some text. If you build it in a tool like PowerPoint or Photoshop, it’s easy to go back and change the color, background theme, icon, and text.

Use blank boards and screens to write your message

eLearning Intro Screen Example Board

This one is really easy to do. You can take an image of any blank board, sign, paper, etc and customize the text on top of it. If you’ve read our post on how to use display boards to show eLearning content, this concept won’t be new to you.

Use an avatar to introduce the course

eLearning Splash Screen Example Avatar

You might also consider using a character as an avatar to introduce your course. Some of my favorite (and flexible) poses are talking and thinking because you can swap out any of the elements (background, character, or text) to easily create new variations. I often do this for the header images in the blog as well. You can also just have a character standing on the screen, then use them throughout the course as an avatar.

Use text in interesting ways

eLearning Templates First Screen

The example above combines a few of the concepts already mentioned. We’ve used a character as an avatar, and a board, but then added in some interesting text effects. The fonts in this design are pre-installed in most applications. By just playing with sizing, color, and shadow effects, it adds more visual interest than a standard splash screen. Even without the character or the board, it would stand out from unformatted text.

Use silhouettes

eLearning Intro Screen Example Silhouettes

Silhouettes create nice contrast, but also shift the focus to the rest of the slide. You aren’t focused as much on the facial expressions or details of the person, but rather the overall action of the character.

Download a free splash screen template

Thanks for making it this far. I’d like to reward you with a free template. Put a comment in the comments field below, share your thoughts on this post, and identify your favorite of the 6 examples in the post and I’ll email you the file. Don’t worry, your email address won’t be displayed or shared on the site, but I’ll be able to email you the download link directly. I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • LeeAnn July 17, 2013, 7:22 am

    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. I particularly like the example with the multiple characters. This is something that I have not thought to do on an into page.

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:30 am

      @LeeAnn – My pleasure. The cool thing with the characters is that they’re separate assets. With this template, you can swap out different characters and expressions for endless combinations.

  • Carol Billings July 17, 2013, 8:35 am

    This is just what I needed for a new course I’m working on. Thanks for the ideas; I may use all of them eventually, but I think the last one will work best for this current course.

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:33 am

      @Carol – I’m glad this can help in a current course. Good timing. I’ve emailed you the file. Send me a link to the modified intro screen when you’re done. I’d love to see it. Thanks!

  • Chuck Sigmund July 17, 2013, 8:37 am

    Love the first one. It really conveys the content and gets the presentation off on an engaging step.

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:36 am

      @Chuck – Thanks. I’ve sent you the file. I really like capturing emotions with facial expressions. Enjoy!

  • Jill D. July 17, 2013, 8:41 am

    I like the 4th one best: Use an avatar to introduce the course

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:39 am

      @Jill – Thanks for the comment. I like using avatars with thought or speech bubbles. You can basically put in any text or title and make it work, especially with “thinking” and “speaking” poses. If I were to change the design of this one, I’d probably use a different desk surface (there’s a decent one built into PPT textures). The one here looks more like a floor to me. But that actually makes it kind of interesting. :)

  • Susannah Causier July 17, 2013, 8:43 am

    These are all great ideas, and gave me some great inspiration for a session I’m doing on FMLA. All visually grab the learner.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:40 am

      @Susannah – Thanks. I’m glad the post got some ideas flowing. What kind of session are you doing for FMLA?

  • Victoria July 17, 2013, 8:45 am

    If I have to pick just one, then my favorite is the “Use an avatar to introduce the course” because I want to learn how to build the background using PPT that the avatar was added to.

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:47 am

      @Victoria – Thanks! See my comments for @Jill above for some general comments. You may also want to check out the Wall, Baseboard, Floor technique that David Anderson first introduced me to. Here’s a youtube video on building eLearning scenes. Let me know if you have any questions. This one is a little different in that the floor became a desk surface. But same concept. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Sue R. July 17, 2013, 8:46 am

    I like the second one.

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:48 am

      @Sue- Thanks. File sent. :)

  • Mike Baker July 17, 2013, 8:50 am

    The intro screens and selecting the best images are usually what take up a lot of my time. But they are two of the most critical features in a course.
    My favorite things in this article was to capture the attention of the learner by creating something visually interesting and using text in interesting ways.

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:49 am

      @Mike – Agreed. That first screen always takes me forever to create! Image search time can also be a pain. Glad you liked the article.

  • George July 17, 2013, 8:52 am

    Great post! Love your ideas, thoughts, expertise. Thanks for always sharing. I’ve been following your site from the start. Neat too watch your business grow!

    • art July 17, 2013, 9:51 am

      @George – Thanks for being a long term follower! This past year has been especially busy. Every since we switched the membership program, we’ve been adding new assets like crazy.

  • Nicole July 17, 2013, 8:57 am

    I rarely think of using icons …..opting for real photos instead – but sometimes simple will do the trick! I like the simple icon.

    • art July 17, 2013, 10:02 am

      @Nicole – Icons are way more useful than they seem at first glance. Check out this article about the important elements of icons. I think in the use of a splash screen, you’re really looking for the icon to convey meaning. The other use I really like is for visual storytelling. You can actually create a pretty cool course all in an icon style.

  • Marian July 17, 2013, 8:57 am

    Great ideas that I can use. I really like the billboard.

    • art July 17, 2013, 10:04 am

      @Marian – Ha. I hadn’t actually planned on giving the billboard template away. It was just the splash screen for the blog post. But I’ve gone ahead and sent it to you. :)

      The tricky thing about this one is getting the text to match the perspective of the board. Use the textboxes that are already on the screen and you’ll be fine. I used the “3D rotation” feature in PowerPoint. Also, you can change the color of the sky, as an FYI. Enjoy!

      • Rita July 18, 2013, 5:35 am


        I agree with Marian the billboard really caught my eye! I have used the other types myself and agree with your comments. I like the clean, crisp look of the intros.

        • art July 18, 2013, 10:07 am

          @Rita – Haha. You’re the first person on this thread to address me as “Art.” I thought it would have happened sooner :)
          I’m glad I added the billboard as an option.

  • Mike July 17, 2013, 8:58 am

    Great post, this helps instead of having the boring powerpoint title slide.

    • art July 17, 2013, 10:05 am

      @Mike – Yep. The default PowerPoint title slides are terrible!!!

  • Phil Havlik July 17, 2013, 9:11 am

    Great ideas! The more the “PowerPoint template” mentality can be broken, the better. I really liked the “customer complaints” example but the shadow text did make it a little hard to read and may not fit within the context of a piece of paper. Shadow text is probably worth considering a minimal enhancement.

    Love the post!

    • art July 17, 2013, 10:08 am

      @Phil – Totally. The first thing I do when I open PowerPoint is wipe out all of the default layouts.

      I agree with you about the shadows on the board. I’d probably remove those as well. But that’s the beauty… the shadows are there using the default PowerPoint text effects. Feel free to remove! Thanks for the comments!

  • Angela July 17, 2013, 9:35 am

    I like the 4th one best and couldn’t agree with you more: It’s so important to make an attention-grabbing first impression!
    Thank you for sharing.

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:34 am

      @Angela – My pleasure. File sent. :)

  • Terry Smidt July 17, 2013, 10:18 am

    I have been looking for some new ideas for a new course I’m designing in Captivate. Your suggested ideas are excellent and I may use all of them eventually in other courses. I think the first, second, and third screens will work best my current course. Thanks!

  • Tanya S. July 17, 2013, 10:26 am

    I like the conflict slide.

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:42 am

      Thanks Tanya. File sent. Enjoy!

  • Christine SanDominick July 17, 2013, 11:32 am

    My learner “hook” has always been on the first few pages of the content, but I bet this generates interest from the first moment! Great idea!

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:43 am

      @Christine – I think it’s fine to have the hook in the first few pages, just don’t wait too long!!! :)

  • Michelle July 17, 2013, 11:45 am

    I thought all the slides were great, but especially liked the conflict slide. Great attention grabber! Thanks!

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:44 am

      @Michelle – Thanks. Glad you liked them all. I emailed you the conflict slide. Enjoy!

  • Inez Campbell July 17, 2013, 1:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing these helpful ideas! They’re excellent and I plan on using the blank board in my next course. It’s my favorite.

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:47 am

      @Inez – Yeah. The blank board is really flexible. All of the elements (wall, baseboard, floor, person, and text) are separate assets, so you can easily make changes. If you tweak it a little bit, you can create a few different views for visual storytelling. Check out how I’ve done this here: eLearning Template Display Boards

  • Steve L. July 17, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Thank you for the great ideas!!! I’m new to e-Learning and always like
    gathering new ideas from the pros. Good Job!

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:49 am

      @ Steve – Thanks. I was always appreciated of the willingness of others to share when I got started, so I’m happy to share!

  • Joy R July 17, 2013, 3:25 pm

    I prefer the conflict screen, as the simplicity really gets the message across. I also identify with your comments about spending so much time on the intro slide and still not being happy with it. That often happens to me, so these ideas will be very helpful. Thanks.

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:51 am

      @ Joy – Simplicity is important on the intro screen since you’re trying to convey a point in seconds. And, yes, I’ve spent many hours designing some terrible looking screens in my day ;)

  • Michelle Dodd July 17, 2013, 5:03 pm

    Love it!

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:51 am

      @ Michelle – Thanks!

  • Dr. Charles Wilson July 17, 2013, 5:42 pm

    Thanks for the sharing of info and visualization(s). Wow! I received a scant few free assets of “people cut outs” and an “office scene”. Using these few tools, I have made 9 separate modules within a curriculum “role play” experience that is designed to self teach, “Creating and Sustaining Desired Performances”.

    I am sharing these modules on a open source quality improvement website and using the feedback of followers to actually develop the full course. To date people seem to really love them.

    Have developed over 200 modules that cover 3 separate curriculums and another 40 plus modules that are stand alone courses. Wished I had such clever visualizations long before now.

    Love all you have shared with us. Guess my favorite currently is the “Create a scene with multiple characters”, as that is what I am using to create this new course.

    Appreciate your willingness to share and grow the ideas, skills, and leaders around you. Thanks for being a service to others.

    Blessings and Success,
    Dr. Charles Wilson

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:53 am

      @DrWilson – Sounds like your’e doing some great work. Thanks for the kind words!

  • Ravee July 17, 2013, 8:44 pm

    These assets look greate and I am sure will make life easier for people venturing into craeting professional looking e-learning courses.

    Please let me know if you sbscription package to cover powerpoint templates and characters.


    • art July 18, 2013, 9:55 am

      @Ravee – Thanks. And, yes, the templates are part of most of our membership plans. You can see the different plans here: eLearningArt Membership Plans

  • Paul July 17, 2013, 9:37 pm

    Some nice suggestions here.

    I prefer the silhouette in the appearance but do like what has been done with the background in the avatar example. If you do it with an image of a specific desk within the workplace, it would be a nice easy way of personalizing the e-learning.

    • art July 18, 2013, 9:58 am

      @Paul – One of the cool things with having the characters and backgrounds separated is that you can change any of the elements. There is no reason you can’t take a photo of your own office space and swap it in to make it look like your own office.

  • Karen July 17, 2013, 11:35 pm

    It’s as if you’re reading my mind, exactly the right post at the right time, thanks! I like the Conflict Resolution screen the most. :D

    • art July 18, 2013, 10:00 am

      @Karen – I hope that doesn’t mean you’re in the middle of resolving a conflit ;)
      I’m glad the timing worked well. Enjoy!

  • Cheryl July 18, 2013, 2:18 am

    Hi, I love these ideas. My favourite one is probably the conflict one but I can imagine using variations of all of these!

    • art July 18, 2013, 10:01 am

      @Cheryl – Thanks! File sent. :)

  • Linda July 18, 2013, 5:07 am

    Great tips! An avatar all the way!

  • Zach Moring July 18, 2013, 6:55 am

    I have used some of these. Thanks for all the suggestions; nothing like the power of multiple e-Learning Designers equipped with great ideas!

    • art July 18, 2013, 10:08 am

      @Zach – My pleasure. Let me know if you come up with any cool variations. :)

  • sumit July 18, 2013, 7:05 am

    this is really cool. i liked using avatars…

    • art July 18, 2013, 10:09 am

      @Sumit – Thanks! Check out the comment above to @Linda about avatars.

  • Crisa July 18, 2013, 8:46 am

    Love the ideas. I find the readmade stock photo images of people are fantastic – unless the series doesn’t have the expression I want. Then relying on silhouettes can save the time and redesigning.

    • art July 18, 2013, 10:13 am

      @Crisa – It’s very important to have multiple poses of the same model with a range of expressions. That’s actually how eLearningArt was started. We launched the site over 4 years ago with photos of 3 models in about 75 poses each. Now we’re at about 25,000 total assets! And yes, silhouettes are a great option as well. Thanks for the comment! :)

  • Julie July 18, 2013, 10:49 am

    Great ideas. Will use in an upcoming compliance course. Thanks.

  • Jill Sirois July 18, 2013, 11:05 am

    Thanks for sharing these ideas. I particularly like the conflict resolution intro.

  • Kim Lorek July 18, 2013, 11:54 am

    Can you provide some ideas for product training besides including a picture of the product?

  • Michele S July 18, 2013, 12:24 pm

    Super article and very timely. Content always seems easy compared to engaging visuals. My personal favorite is the first one on conflict resolution, but all are fantastic!

  • Paula Withers July 18, 2013, 3:45 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your ‘visual’ ideas. I’m one of those people without much imagination and so appreciate those of you who do, so I love templates that make up for what I lack.

  • Deborah Lloyd July 19, 2013, 12:55 am

    I find these a very useful resource as they provide inspiration for not just the splash screen but for the whole project. My favourites are : conflict resolution (nice strong colours and visuals), the icon (simple idea but effective), silhouettes (strong point of interest created by silhouette).

  • Stephen July 19, 2013, 10:25 am

    This is very useful. Thank you