The Importance of the Instructional Designer in eLearning design

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The Importance of the Instructional Designer in eLearning design

Matt Archer

January 28, 2021

Instructional Designer Quote

An Instructional Designer is like the Architect of the elearning World

Training is often compared to building a house. In housing once someone has decided to get a house built, you need to have an architect draft blueprints, builders create the framework of the house based on the blueprints and designers furnish and customize the look and functionality of the house based on the homeowner’s desires.

Similarly, when we at Positive Results™ consult with a company in need of training design, they've often identified a need for training in some aspect of their business. They come to us about that need and we meet with their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to learn about their training needs and identify any gaps in your business process that may impact the end result.

Just as an architect putting a toilet fixture in the middle of a hallway might indicate a gap in their blueprint, so too might your team have gaps in their training framework that need to be addressed ahead of time in order to ensure the training will meet the standards of your business.

Instructional Designer blueprintAdditionally, as the business process analysis is being undertaken, our instructional designers meet with your team to framework what the training is about and how it might fit together as an eLearning course. Order of operations is very important here. Just as you wouldn’t start putting chairs and tables into an empty lot before the house is built, so too is it recommended to build the framework of the course before trying to figure out what the slides may look like or where supporting documents may fit.

Finally, as the instructional designer creates the framework of the course and the SMEs agree with that framework, then design on the course modules themselves may begin. This task is often also done by the instructional designer, but in some cases may be passed off to a course designer who specializes in taking the content and best fitting it into the eLearning course, taking into account things such as layout, design, and consistency.

What does an Instructional Designer actually do?

If Instructional Designers are like architects, and architects usually draft blueprints based on their client’s wishes to fit into the required building codes, what exactly are those building codes in Instructional Design? The short answer is to provide the necessary context for the trainee to understand what they’re doing, but also how and why.

Christopher Pappas from eLearning Industry says, “The purpose of the Instructional Designer is to draw attention to all the small details and analyze all the bits so that the learners are able to see the bigger picture.”[1]

By analyzing what you want to accomplish with the training and what information your SMEs already possess to accomplish that goal, then taking into account the needs of the people the training is being designed for, an instructional designer can start to bring the learner’s attention to the required areas and provide the context needed to optimally deliver the eLearning course.

Often an instructional designer must wear many other hats:Instructional Designer wears many hats

  • They need to understand where their SMEs are coming from to create objectives and goals for the training
  • They need to wear the hat of the trainee to understand the many different ways learners learn things so they best anticipate gaps in the training or issues some learners may encounter, and proactively resolve them
  • They must wear a project management hat to ensure all items that need to get completed are planned out with estimates, due dates, tasks and requirements
  • They often need to wear the course designer hat to figure out how the end product will look, what layouts, colors and supporting items to use and how to align them within the eLearning itself

Without an instructional designer, it would be a lot more challenging to manage all of the different aspects of the eLearning design and ensure it fit the needs of both the company and the trainees.


How can an Instructional Designer help your company’s eLearning development?

Properly executed instructional design by a qualified Instructional Designer can have a very positive impact on many areas of your training experience, including but not limited to the following:

  • Reduces your development costs with training tailored to the desired results
  • Increases learners’ retention of tools and skills
  • Makes the training more efficient with targeted content
  • Increases learning retention, leading to better work productivity

Each of the above items are made that much better when you have a skilled Instructional Designer who understands your business process and is able to take your requirements and turn it into something that can ultimately be built to meet, or even exceed, your desired outcome.

Without the support of an Instructional Designer, you may end up creating training that only addresses the superficial aspects of the job requirements, may not map out all the actual required areas that need to be trained on, and may not be able to provide the context needed for many learners to understand the point of the training for their job.

Final Thoughts

The instructional designer is a key cog in ensuring that the ideas of your SMEs can be extracted and embedded into the appropriate eLearning for your audience. Just as you wouldn’t construct a building without an architect to draft the blueprints, we recommend working with an instructional designer to framework your company’s training needs to save time and money while increasing the likelihood of releasing a high quality product.

Positive Results™ has a team of instructional designers that use our unique business process analysis to identify and fix gaps in your process to help design the best training to meet the needs of your company and trainees. We would be happy to consult with your company to help identify your gaps and design your eLearning course(s).

If you have additional questions or need support, contact us at:


Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions




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