Week 4: Instructional Design


In this lecture pod, Leon Cmielewski explains the fundamentals of instructional design whilst pointing out effective and ineffective examples of such. He outlines that instructional design is how to “do something” or to explain “how something works. While we interact with instructions constantly through our daily life (using a ticket machine, parking meter, operating domestic appliances), we can typically encounter poorly designed instructions which can create frustrating experiences for the user. An example of this can be one that involves the “split-attention effect” such as an instruction manual on how to fix the power steering of a truck. This instructional design can be deceptive as the user would have to remember too many things at once and hold lots of information in their working memory and then be able to marry together the text, supporting graphic as well as the legend.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.57.20 AM

Cmielewski, L. (2016, February). GDIDMPOD04 [Video Podcast Recording]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/159662636

When designing effective instructions, it can be beneficial to consider the cognitive load theory. The cognitive load theory is based on both how we think and how we remember, and relating the outcomes of the research to the most effective ways to deliver instructions.

An example of an effective use of instructional design is the work that the “explainers” create for the healthcare and nursing sector. This company creates instructional designs for these people that have to deal with operating complex machine procedures and are constantly in need of updating their skills as technology advances.

Leon Cmielewski then goes on to display his views towards designs that display their instructions in the form of photographs. He explains that photography used throughout instructional graphics can typically be ineffective because often the material contains too much information to be useful due to the photo having too much detail allowing the salient points to be undefinable (every detail has an equal visual weight).

Cmielewski explains that symbol graphics is an effective alternative that can be utilised instead as the user is able to isolate the important details and are directed towards the most salient points to aid the understanding of what is being described.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.58.46 AM

Cmielewski, L. (2016, February). GDIDMPOD04 [Video Podcast Recording]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/159662636

Alberto Cairo outlines the types of interaction for screen design:

  • Instruction – by clicking buttons
  • Conversation – back and forth dialog
  • Manipulation – drag and drop elements
  • Exploration – open, playful, game like

Challenges of a mobile phone:

  • Limited screen area
  • Limited resolution


  • Time
  • Layering detail and information

Challenges when creating an instructional guide:

  • Your user’s preference
  • Redundancy
  • Sense of control


In response to this lecture pod, I have realised the effective and ineffective design aspects of instructional design. A designer must employ a simplistic approach and concise wording when creating instructional graphics. They must consider their audience and avoid all potential risks of misinterpretation or uncertainty in response to their design. It can be useful to create a mechanism when creating these designs and allow the focal point to be easily distinguishable within each frame. I also gathered that it is most effective to utilise a design consisting of symbol graphics and colour coding in order to convey a direct message to all potential audiences. An efficient approach that can be utilised when attempting to ensure a successful and concise outcome is to view their own work through the eyes of their viewers and distinguish any faults that could cloud the intention of the design.


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