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Design Before Development

Design Before Development

It seems a logical progression - design your training program, then develop it. But often, a good upfront design plan - it if exists at all - is pushed aside in the rush to development. The content is written and forced to fit into the development schedule as opposed to the development emerging from a good design plan.

Imagine waking up one Saturday morning and deciding that this weekend, you would like to take a road trip; explore a new town; visit an old friend - go somewhere that you have never been before. In your enthusiasm to get started, you run out the door, jump in your car and start driving. A block away from your home - you come back to a fork in the road. Do you take the fork on the right or the fork on the left? You decide to go right - 50/50 chance you've got it right - unfortunately hours later you realize you should have made a left. Frustrated, you turn around and go home.

Making the choice at the fork in the road without sufficient information or a plan ended up being a waste of time, gas and worse - what started off as an exciting weekend turned into a colossal disappointment. Maybe before running out the door, it would have been a good idea to take a bit of time and plan exactly where you want to go and how to get there.

It is not unusual for us to be encouraged by clients to 'jump right in' to the content. The client justifies the position for many reasons that might include: deadlines are looming, timelines won't allow for analysis and design, 'we know what we want', or it is not in the budget. Unfortunately, not taking the time to produce a good solid plan can often lead to costly delays and unfulfilled expectations - exactly what the client thought they were going to avoid.

Having a good design plan in place before starting development ensures that there will be less 'detours', backtracks or getting completely sidetracked from the training project objectives. Just like planning a journey - with a detailed roadmap - a good design will ensure that everyone is clear on the project right from the start.

Everyone - clients, instructional designers, developers, project managers, and anyone else who might have a stake in the project, benefits when starting with a good design plan:

  • Final deliverables are clear to everyone from the start
  • Getting it right in the design plan means less 'do-over's during development
  • Approvals and feedback at this stage avoids disappointment and perhaps failure at the end
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