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Making Good Multimedia Design

So there I was, clicking and reading and listening to the Showcase CD Macromedia now ships with its products. A Multimedia 101 portion includes brief descriptions of twelve multimedia development team roles but not mine.

I created my first online reference piece in 1989 and currently design and develop training and reference multimedia, yet this isn't the first time that I've found my instructional design role left off a multimedia role list.

Good Multimedia Design
Still, despite inconsistent recognition, persistent cries for good multimedia design usually make me glad to have spent all that money on my master's degree in Instructional Systems Technology.

Perhaps by identifying design skills that seem important to me, I can initiate a dialogue. Regardless of title or role, multimedia and Web page designers in general are likely pursuing similar design skills. What I'm curious to learn is the range of design skills IICS members believe we need to create good multimedia.

To begin, I will describe instructional design and instructional design skills in more detail, then couple these with design skills I believe all multimedia designers should cultivate.


Instructional design enjoys membership within a broad discipline called human performance technology. As its name suggests, human performance technology is all about influencing human behavior and accomplishment. Practitioners focus on the wide range of solutions we can use in schools, businesses, museums and other environments to enhance human performance.

Instructional designers focus primarily, but not exclusively, on finding instructional solutions for performance needs. Instructional design training enables the practitioner to recognize the corresponding relationship between learning and good design; it offers information design skills, practical media experience and an understanding of learning theory. As a result, instructional designers can make strong contributions to a design team by identifying effective methods for organizing and presenting information and determining whether instruction calls for people, paper, video, exhibits and/or computers. Most importantly, good designers can potentially create truly innovative designs as they pursue the larger purpose of how we create knowledge and make meaning for ourselves.

In sharing the ultimate goal of improving human performance, there is some common interest between instructional design, graphic design, industrial design, architecture, ergonomics, interface design, and psychology.

Practitioners work with specific problems and audiences to improve the relationship between people s needs and their settings. By settings, I mean the instructional sequences, images, equipment, physical or cultural spaces that when designed well, can enhance our knowledge and improve our performance.


When included as part of a multimedia development team, instructional designers can:

identify clear project goals and objectives

act as user advocates to develop solutions based on needs

humanize the technological experience

address the relationship between people, computer-based solutions and environments

work with subject matter experts to identify need-to-know information

be both creative and analytical

write clearly

offer various instructional strategies, from behaviorist mastery learning and criterion- referenced testing to constructivist problem-based learning, and

present solutions in a variety of media for communicating concepts, processes or procedures.


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