Do you know what Instructional Design is?

Over the past few months, a lot of my clients have shared that they aren’t really sure what Instructional Design is.

Which got me thinking: am I assuming that you know what Instructional Design is just because you’re reading this? Gasp!

Let's fix that. 

Instructional Design Defined

Here's my definition of Instructional Design.

(Disclaimer: This is not the stuffy, boring definition. This is the edited, easy to understand version, so don’t come for me!)

Instructional Design is the study and application of adult learning theory, behaviour psychology, and user experience to develop effective instruction.

Or, in even simpler terms, Instructional Designers study how adults learn and behave. Then we apply that knowledge to create effective curriculum.

Instructional Design in the real world

That definition doesn't excite most people outside of academia or corporate training departments.

Historically, Instructional Design has been used by the military, colleges & universities, and corporations to make their training/ curriculum more effective.

If you've ever taken a college course that you loved or experienced kickass training, you were enjoying the fruits of great Instructional Design.

But entrepreneurs and small businesses were (and still are) in the dark about Instructional Design's benefits.

And that's where it gets interesting.

Because Instructional Design can help entrepreneurs too.

How Instructional Design improves your course

When it comes to creating online courses, most people have no clue where to start. 

So they dump everything they know into their course, creating overwhelm for their learners.

Or they adopt a lean startup mindset, only building the bare minimum (and leaving their learners wanting more).

Both of these scenarios result in low completion rates and poor results.

  • But what if you could know exactly what your audience wanted to buy from you?

  • What if you could easily pinpoint why your students aren't getting results?

  • What if you had a clear outline of exactly which content to include in your course, instead of making assumptions?

That's what good Instructional Design tells you.

(I'm gonna use the abbreviation "ID" now, m'kay?)

  • ID helps you find (and eliminate) gaps between your learners' needs and your course content.

  • ID helps you create the right course the FIRST time by doing a deep front-end analysis.

  • ID helps you define your learning outcomes, so you know what to include and what to leave out.

  • ID helps you figure out how to keep your learners engaged and motivated.

  • ID helps you see obstacles that will keep your learners from being successful in your course.

Good Instructional Design connects the dots between your learners, your content, and your business.

In other words, good (course) design is good business.

Because it creates happy students who spread the word and buy more of your products.

One more thing...

Not all Instructional Designers are created equal.

I won't delve into this too deeply (more to come later), but there are four types of Instructional Designers:

  1. Those who focus on educational theory and psychology (the academic types)

  2. Those who focus on developing & coding online learning (think eLearning developers)

  3. Those who do both 1 and 2*

  4. Weirdos like me who can do 1 and 2, but also geek out on marketing and writing.*

If you're planning to work with an ID, hire a number 3 or 4.


Instructional Design adds value because it focuses on your learners first, helping you save time, money, and frustration. 

Beginning with some initial analysis pays off big time for your course quality, which makes your learners happy.

Happy learners become brand ambassadors that go out and tell people to buy your course. Which means you increase your authority and get a boost in sales.

That’s why I’m so adamant about the value of Instructional Design. It’s what world-class courses are made of.

Don’t take my word for it, though.

Here's what one of my favorite clients had to say about the impact of Instructional Design on his products:

You don’t know this but I’ve been replaying the recording of our meeting while running errands, driving, etc. because you gave me so many insights into my business that I hadn’t seen before.

I only expected to get an outline. What was a big surprise were the insights about my audience and how this course fits within my array of products.

This is going to make me more money because I’ll be creating products that are actually aligned with their needs.
— Philip Morgan

Back to You!

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