How to Make Your Next Articulate Rise Course Stand Out


On any given day, you might walk into the Maestro offices and catch us waxing poetic about our favorite blocks in Rise (it changes all the time!). We’re no strangers to Articulate Rise courses, we’ve seen firsthand that they’re the future of innovative eLearning.

While it’s true that anyone can develop their own Articulate Rise course, we’re doing things a little differently. Our interactive designers are constantly working in Rise, and they’ve found countless ways to push the limits of the platform and create the best possible eLearning experiences. Our process is intentional and thoughtful, from the way we design transitions between various content pieces to custom illustrations that make a course look and feel better.

We know a thing or two about developing great courses in Rise, and we’re excited to share it. Take a peek into how to use Articulate Rise with insider tips from our agency’s designers.

How to use Articulate Rise for better courses

If mobile is important to your company, you probably already know that Articulate Rise is the best tool for responsive eLearning. But because the tool makes custom design more challenging, you run the risk of having a final product that feels cookie-cutter and underwhelming. In order to make the most of Articulate Rise, you have to think outside the box and push the limits of the platform.

There are plenty of innovations in Rise that the typical user wouldn’t know about. Sure, we all want an Articulate Rise course that delivers the content, but what  about beyond that? Let’s look at a few Articulate Rise examples and how we’ve hacked the program to create stunning, custom courses for our clients.

6 hacks to improve your next Articulate Rise course

Most people see Rise as a limited eLearning solution—you turn to it for responsive, rapid authoring. But the Rise we know and love is much more than that. Here are just a few pointers we’ve picked up along the way.

1. Develop templates to create better, more vibrant transitions

Within Rise, there aren’t many options for how to transition between two content blocks. However, with a little bit of creativity and a handy Photoshop template, your design team can develop Images that bridge the gaps between two content pieces to create more interesting transitions.

For this particular client, we created an image that contained the background colors of the previous and next content pieces and layered a photo with graphic elements on top. Make everything seamless by removing the image’s padding, and you’re good to go!

2. Create labeled graphics with hotspots for interaction

Rise has a feature that enables learners to mouse over content and trigger interactive elements to reveal more information. One way that we customize this further is by figuring out exactly where certain hotspots will be and marking them as a layer in our design templates. Once we design the graphic, we can remove the crosshairs, and when the graphic appears in Rise, those hotspots will be in the exact spots they’re meant to be on the image.

This allows us to customize the content to our client’s exact format specifications and stay true to their brand in every course we build.

A course section labeled Oversight Team with five hotspots and crosshairs labeled Specific Team 1, Specific Team 2, Specific Team 3, Specific Team 4, Specific Team 5, that reveal more information when moused over.

3. Customize charts further with templates and in-app tricks of the trade

Rise does have the ability to create charts, but design options are limited. However, there’s an option for multiple charts to be used in one row. For this client, we created donut-shaped pie charts to display their content, placing each chart in a separate column.

The key below each chart was created using Rise’s text element. How did they become the colored boxes below the charts? We simply made a letter in the text element the same color as a section in the pie chart, then highlighted in that same color.

The best part of a design like this is that it’s responsive. By placing each chart and key in its own column, it easily snaps into various layouts according to the user’s screen size for legibility and convenience.

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4. Create custom iconography using closely cropped images

Rise doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to icons, and even if it did, custom iconography is always the better choice. Our workaround? Our designers create custom icons on a square canvas, closely crop them, and save them at a size between 80×80 and 150×150 pixels. From there, these icons can be loaded and placed as images anywhere in your course.

Custom checkmark icon above a Learning Check section for an in-course quiz.

5. Make the most of Rise’s flipcard feature

Normally, when we think of flipcards, it’s typical to place an image or word on one side and the definition on the other. But what if you took the flipcard in Rise and made it even more visual and interactive?

With this client, rather than placing a word and its definition on the card, we used the card to show an image of a macchiato with information below. When the learner flips the card, they get an exact breakdown of espresso and milk foam to make the perfect beverage.

6. Maximize placement of elements using design templates

Because Rise has a set number of content blocks and styles to choose from, our designers have become more innovative through the years making the most of this tool to create courses that truly stand out. 

With this particular element, we wanted to show a side-by-side example of do’s and don’ts for slicing a lime for a cocktail, but this Rise component only accommodates one image. We created a two-column template in Photoshop at the correct width for the content block, added the images and icons each on different layers placed to appear side by side, and then saved it as a flattened single image.

Once you’ve used Rise and understand how it works, it will become second nature for designers to create templates that seamlessly fit your course content.

A course section labeled "Be Careful" with 2 images below it demonstrating the right and wrong way to cut a lime.

Do’s and don’ts for developing in Articulate Rise

You’re thinking outside the box, you’ve got an arsenal of insider hacks and Articulate Rise examples—but there are a few more things you should know.

Let me share a quick rundown of the do’s and don’ts my team and I have learned through our many trips down the Rise rabbit hole. Grab your notebook—here are a few things you should know about developing in Rise.

Do’s for developing in Rise

  • Sketch out course chapters before jumping into the nitty gritty of designs. That way, any major transitions or graphic templates can be carefully planned and executed.
  • Consider adding color behind accordion or timeline components to allow the white in those components to really stand out.
  • Customize everything. Use color and brand collateral to make your course distinct and professional. However, always keep accessibility and legibility in mind when selecting colors to go behind text elements.
  • Incorporate custom illustrations and photos. Drive the look and feel of your course with personalized, thoughtful design that connects with your audience.

Don’ts for developing in Rise

  • Don’t overuse unnecessary components. Sometimes a text block component is all you need. Don’t get hung up on using complex components for the sake of interest. Forcing a user to use hotspots or flashcards when it’s not necessary can be distracting and confusing.
  • Don’t overuse the same components. Be intentional, but don’t be repetitive. Using the same components over and over can make a course feel routine and stale. Remember that Rise is a scrolling experience—variety will help keep the user engaged and alert.
  • Avoid extremely long chapters. Rise is designed to be a user-driven experience, but your design has to keep up. Whenever you can, separate your pages into bite-sized chunks so that your user doesn’t feel overwhelmed by content.

Way more is possible in Articulate Rise than you think

See how we manipulated Rise for digital training onboard the high seas.

See the Royal Caribbean case study