5 things to look for in an instructional designer

Instructional designers are the professionals who make e-learning happen. They build the learning modules in your online training software, design and create online courses, and test the content through online exams to ensure they do exactly what is required. When push comes to shove, it’s the instructional designer who makes the e-learning experience exciting and engaging, or monotonous and stultifying. This is why it’s so important for organizations to make sure they choose the right person to support their e-learning vision.

When hunting for an instructional designer, its important for organizations to look for the five following characteristics:

  1. Creativity. A great instructional designer needs to be creative. They need to know how to take something ordinary and transform it into an extraordinary experience. Images need to blend with plain text and interactive components to create a seamless whole. Be sure your organization is on the look-out for instructional designers with a background — as a hobbyist or a professional — in artistic fields.
  2. Organization. Instructional designers need to balance that creativity with a strong sense of organization. E-learning modules need to be well thought out and conscientiously organized to help learners make their way through the course effectively. Look for someone who has experience in detail oriented tasks like overseeing databases, or managing records.
  3. Technological know-how. Instructional designers need to know how to use the latest and greatest software to keep their content fresh. HTML5, video and photo editing software and similar programs are essential tools for the instructional designer to build content that really sings. Look for candidates with experience working in technologically demanding organizations or positions.
  4. A fast learner. The content demands of instructional design can be heavy. It often involves mastering a number of new concepts or even subject areas quickly in order to effectively design content. Consequently, generalists or individuals with a particularly diverse set of interests flourish as instructional designers. Ensure that your instructional designer has a style that is on par with what you are trying to convey in the teachings.
  5. Educational experience. More than anything else, it’s essential that an instructional designer has experience teaching. It’s one thing to design fun and exciting activities, its another to really understand how they work together to build understanding quickly and effectively. In this sense, experience teaching is indispensable for any instructional designer who hopes to see the big picture.

Each of these five traits work together in harmony in all the best instructional designers. Diversity of experience is what always underpins the work of the best instructional designers.

Roz Bahrami
Roz Bahrami
Roz Bahrami is a blogger for SkyPrep, an online training software for companies to train employees and measure results. Roz is a regular contributor to blogs related to corporate training, L&D, and HR technology. Visit my personal blog at

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