Why Design is More Important than Instructional Design

instructional design

Why instructional design?

Why not just design, period!?

I would encourage everyone to engage with others who work in design oriented disciplines. If you’ve never done it, it will be an eye-opening experience. I’ve engage with designers of all sorts throughout the years and have discovered that there are far more similarities across fields than one might think.

If you look specifically at the final product of each discipline you would most likely not come to this conclusion. However, if you dig deeper into their processes and how they get the work done, the similarities become obvious.  Oddly enough, I’ve also discovered that most other design fields have already discovered this…a long time ago! The instructional design industry seems to always be the last to find these things out.

What makes the design work we do any different from the work of other designers? Sure our tools look different. Our final products look very different. But our approach and processes are perfectly aligned. With maybe a few small exceptions.

I’m writing about this today because I ran across a link on twitter to this web site for the Interaction Design Foundation. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about this topic so I dove right in. Here is how the Interaction Design Foundation defines design.

“We take design at its most simple definition that of a practical approach to problem solving. This remains true from industrial design to service design – designers build products and/or services to solve user and customer problems.”

Interaction Design Foundation

Hey! That sounds an awful lot like what instructional designers do too! We solve business problems, user problems, customer problems too, right? And isn’t our training supposed to keep these problems from occurring? Preventative design…if that’s a thing.

In all honesty, I’ve often thought that if there was perfection in all other forms of design training would not be unnecessary. All products and services would be so intuitive that we would all just naturally understand them. That’s just a fantasy. Fortunately for us, we are an imperfect species living in an imperfect world. And we all need help with our learning through training products, events, and experiences.

If you are new to the world of training I would encourage you to become familiar with the basic ideas behind design thinking. And if you have time, dive into a few totally unrelated design disciplines. See for yourself.