Design Philosophy

“Innovative, yet actionable” describes my basic approach to instructional design. Throughout my career I have focused on designing learning interventions that engage participants in multiple dimensions — intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and at times physically.

I believe that: crafting an authentic learning experience that is relevant, contextual, and meaningful will lead to higher retention and, hopefully, improved performance.

To help achieve this, my philosophy consists of six rules of simplicity:

  1. Show meaningful context
    Is the information relatable to the learner’s real-world or on-the-job experience?
  2. Present evidence and credibility
    Does the content and instructional message demonstrate subject matter expertise and relevance to the learner? Will they trust the message?
  3. Remove invasive user interface clutter
    Is the navigation intuitive? Does user interface close in on the content? Display only the elements necessary for learning. Do not consume the screen real estate with non-essential decoration such as large banners, logos, or other irrelevant imagery.
  4. Remove irrelevant visuals
    Do the visual media support the instruction? Ensure the visuals appropriately support the contextual literacy of the instructional message. This allows the learner to form the proper association between the visual and the content to increase retention.
  5. Strip out jargon and corporate-speak
    Do acronyms, marketing language, and industry buzzwords run rampant throughout the content? If so, delete or minimize them. Refrain from buzzwords, especially industry specific ones. “Return-on-investment,” “constraints,” “accountability,” “resources,” “targeting” are examples of jargon.
  6. Remove barriers to content
    Can the learner easily access the content without unnecessary log-ins, restrictive or confusing LMS design, intrusive pop-ups, and uninstalled plug-ins?
    The first rule of a good user interface is to not make your user have to think about the user interface. Don’t try to re-invent what many of the experts have already figured out: how to build good navigation. Conventions exist, so use them. Do not think you should change or break conventions, especially for a design aesthetic.