Utilizing CARP Principles in Instructional Design

When designing for an audience, it’s crucial to keep CARP principles in mind. CARP, which stands for contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity, are all key elements to creating a visually appealing product. Whether you are designing slides, handouts, infographics, or guides, these principles will help ensure that your products look professional.

Contrast allows you to highlight key information and also helps to ensure your viewers can see the content. One of the best examples of this is black text on a white background. It wouldn’t make much sense to have yellow text on a white background. It’s nearly impossible to see.

Alignment ensures that text and images have proper placing. In many ways, alignment can create a relationship between images and text. I typically think of alignment as a grid. Items should have some horizontal and vertical structure.

Repetition is the use of color, text, and images throughout a product. This can help highlight important features and creates cohesion. I often think of this as branding in many ways.

Proximity looks at the spacing and grouping of items. Objects that are close together typically means that the objects are related. Text or images that are separated from each other signify a more distant relationship, or no relationship at all. White space is a good thing, use it to your advantage.

It’s crucial that each of these principles are applied when designing content. Otherwise, the product risks looking unprofessional. I tend to focus most on alignment. Nothing irritates me more than a title that isn’t aligned correctly with text. My eyes typically navigate towards images and text that are not aligned appropriately.

I’m a firm believer that visually appealing content provides the opportunity to further engage learners. Nothing is more unsettling, and distracting, than a product that’s been slapped together last minute.

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