Design Elements in Interpretive Media

Not a designer, but need to develop an interpretive media product? This course will teach you basic design principles that will help you put together a product that is both interpretive and eye-catching.





Interpretive media products connect the interests of the visitor to the significance and relevance of your site through a variety of formats, including publications, wayside exhibits, audio/visual materials, websites, and more. This course will introduce you to design concepts that you should be familiar with when developing interpretive media. For our purposes in interpretation, design is used for a specialized end: to facilitate engaging and meaningful user experiences that will lead to care and concern for a site, its values, and its resources. As you work on your interpretive media project, always keep the intent of the project in mind. Your design should emphasize the intention of the work; it should not be design for design’s sake.

No matter what medium you and your team are working with, design and composition are the keys to a successful product. All interpreters who work on media projects, regardless of their role, should understand the basics of good design and composition and how they contribute to interpretive effectiveness. Whether you are designing an in-house project or working with a professional designer, you need to be able to recognize and articulate, as an interpreter, the ways in which design and composition can enhance access to resource meanings.

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Course Schedule

This course is self-paced allowing you flexibility in the time needed to complete the course. You decide the order and progression you’d like to take, allowing you to revisit and review sections in greater depth as needed.

Elements of the course:

  • Informational text
  • Interactive practice activities
  • Supplemental reference materials
  • Final assessment

Following the course, you will complete an assessment which requires you to demonstrate your understanding of key course concepts. Upon successful completion of the assessment you will be awarded an electronic certificate of completion.

Course Chapters

  • Media and Non-Personal Interpretation
  • Planning for Your Media Project
  • Interpretive Design
  • Conclusion

Be able to:

  • Explain how interpretive principles can be used to develop media products that enable visitors to form their own intellectual and emotional connections to a site.
  • Identify appropriate media types for specific interpretive purposes and audiences.
  • Recognize basic principles of design and composition.
  • Describe the importance of accessibility and Universal Design concepts in media products.

Recommended Background

It is recommended that students taking this course have experience in interpretation. There are no required prerequisites, but it is recommended that students complete the free Foundations of Interpretation course prior to taking this one.


Aside from an internet connection, what resources will I need for the course?

No additional resources are required for this course.

Will I get a certificate after completing the course?

Yes! All courses include a final assessment to evaluate your understanding of key course concepts. A certificate of completion will be offered to you if you complete the assessment with a score of 80% or higher.

Why should I take this course?

Each Eppley e-course is designed collaboratively among experienced instructional designers, subject matter experts, and our partner organizations and institutions. The course curriculum includes current information and best practices in the field, and it is recognized by national leaders in parks, recreation, and land management. Not only will this course benefit your career by expanding your knowledge base, but it will also enhance your application and problem-solving skills.

For more frequently asked questions, please visit our Help Center.


This course is also offered as part of the Intermediate Methods in Interpretation Certificate. Please visit [URL] to learn more about this program.


General IntroductionReview by VC
This course introduces you to design elements. I liked that this course had questions to guide you as you create interpretive media. However, I felt that this course was vague. I wish that the material had offered more detailed information such as choosing content (example- when to use what font, the choice of colors, selecting graphics, etc). I also would've liked to have access to planning materials. Overall, it simply listed elements to be mindful of. (Posted on 1/25/2019)

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