15 Qualities You Must Have to Be a Good Instructional Designer

What qualities will prove that you are a skilled instructional designer? Answering this can be a bit challenging when you are not aware of the traits that make the best instructional designer. Instructional designers do not always hold a specific degree in this field. Most of them change their career paths either from authors, teachers, industry experts, corporate trainers, and many more. Almost all instructional designers come from different backgrounds. However, regardless of your prior career choice, if you have some qualities (discussed below), you can become a successful e-learning author.      

Developing e-learning design is impossible without instructional designers. From the identification of the learning need to the implementation phase of the learning solution, instructional designers are required at every stage. Throughout the process, they comprehend the problem, develop a corresponding solution, and formulate a plan to implement it fully. 

However, you must adopt the following qualities of a good curriculum designer to enhance your e-learning strategy. 

1. Have a Sense of Empathy

The first and foremost characteristic of instructional designers is empathy. Even though it seems like an unusual trait, the best Learning and Design professionals put themselves into the learners' shoes when designing the e-learning strategy. The skill of empathizing with learners enables designers to create content that is meaningful and relevant to the learners. Similarly, they can relate to any difficulties or challenges learners encounter when studying difficult material.

An instructional designer has a clear understanding of the specific audiences for the learning experiences. Consequently, the more tailored the experience is to the audience, the more effective it will be. When you don’t pay attention to each learner’s needs, skills, and interests, you will end up following a one size fits all approach, resulting in failure.

Read our article on What is Human-Centered Instructional Design to develop a learner-focused e-learning design. 

2. Communicate Effectively

Communication is at the heart of any profession. E-learning authors should possess above-average communication skills both in writing and speaking. IDs must learn how to turn their thoughts into powerful words. Moreover, they should listen carefully to the learners' feedback and respond accordingly. Further, the qualities of a good curriculum designer also include effective communication with the team. One must know how to share and express ideas with the team. For instance, explain the purpose of the course and how it is designed to be clear to all.

3. Be Creative and Imaginative

It's not easy to communicate complex ideas in simple words. Depending on the context, different approaches may be most effective. The process of instructional design, therefore, requires creativity. A strong imagination coupled with solid instructional principles is the right recipe for success. Moreover, instructional designers should also challenge learners to use their imaginations to learn. You can achieve this by asking them to solve new problems using what they've learned so far. 

Along with a strong imagination, instructional designers are also expected to possess visual production skills. They might have to spend a greater time developing effective visual components for learning modules. Skills like graphic designing and basic knowledge of the technological side of video and visual features of learning are greatly valued. 

4. Research Skills

It is true that no one is perfect at everything. Even if you are a subject matter expert, there are still times when you need exceptional research skills. For instance, what will you do if you want to present the latest data on a recent study? Or, how will you look for the latest trends? All this requires research skills! This helps you fill any gaps that arise. Therefore, you must be able to find information even when it is not readily available on the web. However, you must also know what sources to trust and where you can find relevant information.   

The usual course of an instructional designer's work is defining and obtaining approval of learning objectives in behavioral terms, then developing content with their own research from the Internet, Books, Videos, etc. They make sure that the final content helps the learner achieve the learning objectives.

5. Be Visually Minded

Learning designer profile MUST include the art of using visually engaging training materials. There is nothing more offending for the learners than to see a wall of text in front of their eyes. This can also lead to cognitive overload, and the students will immediately lose interest. Due to this reason, the instructional design goes hand-in-hand with graphic design. Of course, you don’t have to be a perfect designer, but you should definitely learn some basic graphic design skills and stay on top of the relevant trends. Moreover, it is also vital to be able to work in accordance with brand specifications when necessary. 

e-learning designer

Are you wondering how to achieve this? We have a solution! Cinema8 has a variety of unique and trending features that are suitable for any level Instructional designer. You can add gamification with simple and short levels, branching options to involve learners by allowing them to feel the sense of freedom, quizzes to assess what they have learned, multimedia, and a lot more to keep them engaged and motivated.   

6. Be Consultative

Instructional design is a consultative process by its nature. In order to design an effective learning experience, we must consult with key stakeholders to comprehend their training needs. First, we must understand what success looks like before setting the right learning objectives and outcomes. You should navigate these relationships nimbly to become an effective instructional designer. Moreover, you should listen actively and add value whenever possible.

7. Keep things organized

The role of an instructional designer requires him to use a systematic approach when designing learning experiences. For them to be truly effective, however, they must do the same for their own workload. Sometimes, instructional designers have to work round the clock to meet tricky deadlines. Their job also entails wearing many hats at once. Thus, in order to achieve success, they must remain focused, be goal-oriented, and practice good organizational habits.

8. Try Being a Subject Matter Expert

Although it is not a necessity, it will be a win-win situation if the instructional designer skills also include subject matter expert. If you are proficient in a particular domain, try opting for that specific field - the industry in which the learning course will occur. For example, a college professor with extensive experience in Science could be an excellent candidate for an Instructional Design position, even from the perspective of a consultant. A Subject Matter Expert can provide valuable insight to the team.

Read our article on How to Become an Instructional Designer to learn what degree you need to become an instructional design expert. 

9. Knowledge of Learning Theories

Instructional designers use a methodical approach to design learning experiences. To accomplish this, they must have a thorough understanding of learning theories, instructional principles, and best practices. They should be aware of how The Forgetting Curve impacts learners. The Forgetting Curve focuses on how we forget and how to prevent it. 

IDs should categorize learning activities using Bloom's Taxonomy. It is also fundamental for them to be familiar with frameworks, such as ADDIE, to ensure a clear and effective development process. The opportunities are endless for learning about instructional theories. Below mentioned are a few instructional design theories one must learn:

  • Merril’s Principle of Instruction
  • Kemp Instructional Design Model
  • Individualized Instructions

Read our article on Instructional Design Models for Employee Training for further insights. 

A competent instructional designer is knowledgeable of learning theories and utilizes those theories to meet the goals and objectives of the course. By applying that knowledge, design decisions can be made appropriately. 

10. Be Attentive to details

In order to develop an effective e-learning design, it is often necessary to collect information from a variety of sources. It is imperative that instructional designer skills must include how to retain all of this detail and communicate it effectively. It's important to note that inaccuracies can have a significant impact on business and on learners’ education. It may also be necessary to update existing learning assets, which can be expensive. Adaptability is critical, but sometimes it is better to get things right the first time. 

11. Great Problem Solver and Project Manager

In the end, Instructional Design is all about solving problems. To make learning easy, you need to present targeted information in an understandable manner. At the same time, you have limited resources and classroom time. Also, you are more likely to land more client contracts when you are adept at problem-solving. Their role is to learn about the client's pain points and current L&D challenges and suggest innovative solutions within budget.

IDs who can successfully manage resources, time, and people have the greatest value in the industry. You must be able to lead projects and understand project management concepts.

12. Good Storytellers

Psychologist Jerome Bruner states that you are twenty times more likely to retain information if it is presented in narrative form. Storytelling is, therefore, an effective way to combat The Forgetting Curve. Instructional designers understand that facts and figures alone won't keep learners engaged. We must weave a narrative pathway throughout all our communications if we want the information to stick. 

Moreover, IDs should also use real-life examples to help students relate to the content. Do this by sharing your own experiences or asking them to share theirs.   

13. Be Aware of Technological Advancements 

Instructional designer skills also include keeping up with the times as a growing number of learning experiences move online. The right use of technology can foster effective learning experiences that result in positive outcomes for the learner, the business, and the educational institution. But in order for this to happen, instructional designers must embrace new approaches and be willing to adapt their own methods. 

For candidates to be successful in Instructional Design, it is crucial that they have experience with e-learning tools and Learning Management Systems (LMS). Some of the most popular instructional design tools used by the best instructional designers include:

  • Cinema8
  • Whatfix
  • iSpring Suite
  • Lectora 
  • Captivate

From generating interactive videos to sharing them on multiple social media platforms, Cinema8 is the answer to every e-learning challenge. Due to its cloud-based nature, organizations can respond quickly and efficiently to changes. Cinema8 enables experts to impart knowledge and enable learners to access learning content from any device. You can add amazing features offered by Cinema8 to come up with a highly interactive video that learners love. Add gamification, quizzes, branching options, etc., to keep your learners engaged. 

Read our article on Which Tools do You Need for Instructional Design to learn more about the best e-learning authoring tools.  

14. Use Conciseness (When Necessary)

According to a study published by the Technical University of Denmark, our global attention spans are getting shorter. The reason for this is in large part due to the vast amount of information we receive on a daily basis. Therefore, the best instructional designers are masters at breaking down complex ideas and topics into easily digestible microlearning experiences. It is true that a little goes a long way. 

15. Be Patient, Passionate, and Open-Minded

A good instructional designer must have passion for their work. When you love your job, things become fun and more manageable. Every aspect of instructional design requires thoughtful planning and meticulous execution. Furthermore, it is often necessary to iterate according to the feedback from users. Some projects will take months to finish, while others may seem impossible to complete by the deadline. Without passion and patience, it is not at all easy to manage and succeed. 

Instructional designers should also be open-minded. They should always welcome learners’ and colleagues’ feedback instead of getting disheartened or taking them personally. Learning from feedback makes you a better teacher. Incorporate them into your work and see yourself flourish! 


Instructional designers aim to develop strategies that attain the three Es. These e-learning strategies need to be efficient, effective, and engaging. In order to achieve this, IDs need a variety of unique qualities. After all, developing an online course or learning content is a delicate balancing art. To create experiences that have a lasting impact, instructional designers must combine knowledge of their audience, stakeholder input, learning theories, and learning analytics. 

Also, modern IDs have visual minds that help them come up with an interactive e-learning design. They use beneficial tools that help them deliver complex ideas easily. If you are also willing to keep your learners engaged, turn to Cinema8 today, so don’t miss out on the trending features.