People have known for a long time now that showing is almost always a more effective way to train than telling. So it’s no surprise that videos and animations that show how products and policies work have been extremely common in professional, academic, and customer training. A Stanford study showed the massive difference in attention given to animated faces compared to pictures, and how important movement is to the learning process.
But with the huge influx of different techniques and strategies in online professional training, it can be hard to decide which one is the best fit for your specific need.
While each style has its strengths and weaknesses, some have mostly been overtaken by others as new market research comes out that shows how trainees react to specific content.
Below, you’ll find four different video and animation techniques proven to make training easier, more engaging, and more memorable.
1: Corporate Art Style Animations for Training
Popularized by Facebook, Google, and Amazon, the corporate art style, also often referred to as the Alegria style, Corporate Memphis style, and Big Tech art style, is the minimalistic style of human figures with solid colouring, simple geometric shapes, and often disproportionately large limbs. Today the style is everywhere, used by giants and start-ups alike in almost every industry.
Videos using the corporate art style have flooded the web to the point that a lot of consumers are complaining that it’s overdone. Some critics will complain that it “lacks innovation” but despite that, many of the most successful companies in the world still swear by it. Why?
The short answer is that the benefits generally outweigh the criticism. The simplicity of the corporate art style makes it extremely affordable. The abstract and variable nature of the art and animation assets means that designers can build or even reuse these graphics at extremely competitive deadlines. The soft colours make animations more vibrant and movements easier to track. All of this comes together to make the corporate art style one of the most universally easy-to-use art and animation techniques for everything from marketing and website development to product and policy training.
2: Live Footage Videos for Training
Another cost-effective technique for building content videos is to film the person delivering the content. The production value can vary tremendously here, from simple PowerPoint presentations with an overlay of the mentor on a green screen to an on-the-job process showcase with near-professional cinematography.
The value of live footage over artistic animation usually depends on what is being taught. Skills that rely heavily on soft skills like customer service will often benefit far more from having a human face since a big part of learning how to sell is being able to mimic non-verbal cues. Instructional tutorials and other how-to videos will often require a demonstration of using the product or software, especially in hazardous situations where detail is essential and bringing a trainee in to see it live can be extremely dangerous.
3: Whiteboard Videos for Training
Another format that’s become massively more popular in the last decade is the whiteboard video. These create a sense of community and camaraderie by mimicking the feeling of an actual classroom environment. They can be difficult to follow for complex technical tasks requiring how-to procedures with many steps, but for broad-scale operations like business strategy, marketing policy, or sales techniques, whiteboard videos have proven to be the best ways to get a message across.
Whiteboard animation software has been getting more and more sophisticated, and with each new development, costs are going down while animation quality is going up. The style first shot up in popularity around 2007, but back then the technique was rudimentary and each frame had to be illustrated and animated. Without context to draw from, assets had to be built largely from scratch. But with new technologies in the field, AI systems can now take a finished image and reverse-engineer it into a whiteboard animation of it being drawn without any human interference. This makes them a lot easier to develop and keeps deadlines much more reasonable for faster-working projects.
4: Cartoon Animations for Training
As a much older format, cartoon animation was the go-to before whiteboard and corporate art style animations became popular. It offers the widest range of visuals, but also typically involves much longer turnaround times because assets need to be generated for mascots and other important characters rather than simply taking pre-generated assets from a library. This necessity to create assets also means that instead of just hiring designers and animators, a separate illustrator needs to be commissioned for the project, increasing prices.
This added cost usually means that it’s a little harder to recommend cartoon animation. While many ads use this style to great effect, the larger length of a typical L&D video usually makes this style too costly and time-consuming to meet company requirements effectively.
For extremely short videos like disclaimers and PSAs, cartoons can be a fantastic way to quickly seize the attention of the viewer. But in most cases fully illustrated cartoons, or paid actors and professional cinematography, is more the realm of ads and brand videos than training modules.