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How to Create Effective Course Images


As a graphic designer for 14 years,
I have created 1,000’s of images for my clients. Course images need to be both dynamic and also effectively communicate your course subject matter.


You also need to produce a clean image that communicates a sense of professionalism. Using more than three images may overwhelm the viewer especially when course thumbnails are viewed no larger than 200x100 pixels at times.

I like to create a course image and then zoom out, so I can see how effective it is as a small thumbnail. Can I see any course icons, logos? Is the background graphic or photo effective or not too busy? Are there any elements that seem unnecessary? 


Text is not allowed on cover images, so make sure you use icons, logos or symbols effectively, but using only the ones that are absolutely necessary to tell the story of your course subject matter.

How about the color of the course cover image? That does matter. I once created a bright yellow cover photo for a design theory class because I could not find one other yellow dominated couse image in my topic. I believe using that unique cover photo has helped that class stand

out among heavy competition .

Looking at what others do in your category, what do the top three ranking courses do with their cover photos? Why do you think they are effective?

Lastly, should you have a theme with all of your classes, some sort of unifying design element across all of your course images? Yes, that can be helpful if the classes are connected (in a series) or you want to establish brand recognition. For example, placing your headshot on each cover photo so when people view your course cover photo, they already know who the instructor will be (but that may not be for everyone, including myself).  You can also have a design: banner, slash, swoosh, circle, geometric shape, color that also unifies your courses in some way without making them all look line clones of each other. 

I have done something similar to this with a two-part series, creating those bright vivid yellow cover photos so those two courses seem linked in some way visually. If I were to make all of my course cover photos the same color, it may be harder to establish two courses in a linked series or to highlight particular course types.  

Just a few tips to think about as you start to create those course cover photos!

Also remember to think about the course tags (best seller, new, hot and new) when creating your course images, everyone gets a tag at some point (new tag) so do not put anything that cannot afford to be covered up in that upper left area. 

Please feel free to post tips of your own that has helped your course stand out from the crowd visually.


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