Instructional design that works!









Building A
Blue Print
1 2 3 4



Design is the second phase of the ADDIE process.

The Design Phase of ADDIE

The Design phase of ADDIE takes the information compiled from the analysis phase and builds an instructionally sound training program. The process of designing a course requires logical and creative thinking. It requires the ability to get inside the mind of your audience. There are a few things that you should consider as you begin to design your course to help build a program with your audience in mind. These include the following:

  • How does your audience like to learn?
  • What is the personality of your audience?
  • What are your limits and capabilities regarding technology and personnel?
  • What delivery methods (classroom, online, etc) would be best to achieve the training objectives?
  • Who will be delivering the training? What is the personality of the trainer?
  • Are there any language or other obstacles to consider when designing the course?

Much of the information to answer these questions should have been discovered during the analysis phases. Reviewing the answers to these types of questions throughout the design phase will help you to stay focused on building a successful course.

The design process includes three basic phases: Outlining, Reviewing, and Approving. While each project and organization have specific requirements these three phases are common steps within the design phase.


Each instructional designer may have his or her own technique in how they outline a course, but there are some basic principles that all designers follow during the process. These principles will help you to understand how to logically and creatively structure a course that achieves your training objectives. It is important to remember that while you may create an outline, it will continue to be a "living" document throughout the design and development phases.

Outlines are the road maps for the development phase.

My experience over the years is that the outline requires some adjustment as you move through the ADDIE process. Consider the following principles when designing your outline.

Sequence: Massive amounts of information is very difficult for your brain to absorb and comprehend. However, your brain can contain unlimited amounts of information. The trick is to feed your brain knowledge in small "chunks". To improve your brain's comprehension of the information, you must organize it into some logical sequence. When designing a training program, this same concept applies as well.

As you compile information and analyze the data, you should attempt to find logical sequences within the materials. A tool to help you sequence information is mind mapping. Mind mapping is a technique used to organize information. This process takes information and organizes it into smaller blocks of information.

For example, you need to develop a course on how to bake a cake. Using mind mapping techniques, you breakdown the concept of baking a cake into three segments: identifying ingredients, mixing ingredients, and baking the ingredients. Now that you have identified the segments or "chunks" of information, you need to determine which segment must come first. Obviously, identifying ingredients should come first while baking the ingredients come last. This example may be simplistic in nature, however, the same principles apply to more complex topics.

Activities: Once you have outlined your training program, you need to review it and attempt to incorporate activities into the training. There are various types of activities that you can incorporate into your training. Here are just a few suggestions.

  • Role Plays
  • Game show activities (Jeopardy, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire)
  • Team oriented games
  • Simulations
  • Quizzes
  • Teach backs (student presents a topic to teach others)
  • eLearning games

Timing: After including activities into your outline, you need to consider the length of time required to present the materials. Timing involves more than just determining how long it takes to present a block of instructions. Timing includes everything required to complete the training. As you develop your outline, consider the following items as part of your outline:

  • Breaks: Breaks are an important part of the learning process as your audience needs that time to refresh their minds. Try to incorporate a 10 to 15 minute break every 1 to 2 hours. An important concept to consider is: " When training is more lecture oriented, participants require more breaks. When training is more activity-based, participants need less breaks."
  • Lunches: If applicable, ensure that you schedule lunches in your outline. On average, lunches are an hour long. As you begin to develop your outline, lunches will consume valuable time. However, it is an important piece of the learning process.
  • Introductions/Welcome/Wrap Ups: Introductions, welcoming presentations, and end of day wrap-ups take time to implement. Therefore, your outline should include these items as well.


An important step in the process of designing any training program is to review the outline with your subject matter experts or client. Once you have developed an outline, you should have someone else review it, preferably a subject matter expert. It is important to have a second pair of eyes to review the outline to ensure that the content and flow of the course is in sync with your training objectives. Here are a few tips to consider when working through the reviews:

  • Ask for specific information: Explaining what you expect from those who review your outline will help you to obtain better feedback from your subject matter experts. Based on the topic, develop specific questions that you believe would help you to determine if your outline meets your training objectives.
  • Allow enough time for the review: It is important that enough time is allotted to review your outline. Avoid rushing the review process as this may cause your subject matter experts to overlook critical concepts within your outline. Also, allow enough time for you to revise the outline.


Approving the final outline is critical to the remaining steps of the design phase. The approval should reflect an agreement between you and your client to begin the development of the proposed training program. For some organizations, this approval is represented within a Charter Document, a Detail Design Document, or some other type of document that includes the following:

  • The Purpose of the training
  • Background of the training requirement
  • Intended audience
  • Prerequisites (if required)
  • Course structure
  • Course Outline
  • Roles and responsibilities of all involved in the project
  • Signature block of approving authority


In this article, you learned about the various components of the design phase of ADDIE. The design phase requires your ability to logically and creatively establish segments of information that your audience can comprehend and absorb. This information is then organized into an outline of instructions and becomes a blue print for the development phase of ADDIE.