I’ve been asked on more than one occasion if one really needs to hire an instructional designer, ID, or can they use their user experience (UX) designer in this role? The two do have some things in common, but each serves a different purpose and one should not try and do the others job.
The term “user experience” was made popular by Dr. Donald Norman, a cognitive science researcher who was the first to describe the importance of user-centered design. User Experience Design is the process of making sure that the user is satisfied with a product by improving the usability, increasing the accessibility, and heightening the pleasure that the user receives on every interaction with the product. Hence a User Experience Designer studies and evaluates how users feel about a system or product by looking at things such as ease of use, perception of the value of the system/product, the efficiency in performing tasks and much more. User Experience Designers also look at sub-systems and processes within a system.
On the other hand, Instructional Design is the practice of creating instructional experiences that make the process of learning a skill a more efficient experience, as well as being effective and appealing. Therefore, an Instructional Designer engages in a theory and research-based process of designing and implementing instructions for better learning. This is defined as “the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of processes and resources for learning.”
Though there are many ways for designing or redesigning a course, the ingenious process employed by Instructional Designers is based on improving the learning of participants. An Instructional Designer may be perceived as a User Experience Designer as he or she strives to create learning processes that continually push the learner to stay engaged, but their main focus is on creating a valuable instructional situation. They are well versed in the psychology and theory of learning, whereas a user experience designer concentrates on creating the best experience, not necessarily the best learning outcome.
Danielle VanZorn, PMP, SPHR