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The Difference Between An Instructional Designer And An eLearning Developer

In the learning and development field, there are a lot of roles and titles, with one of the most commonly interchanged titles being eLearning developer vs. instructional designer. But did you know these two jobs are actually not the same? Utilizing different skill sets and serving different functions, an eLearning instructional designer and an eLearning developer both serve a unique purpose.

So, what are the different roles and responsibilities of instructional designer positions versus an eLearning course developer? As a leading custom eLearning development company, our team at Allegro Media Design is here to break it down.

What Is an Instructional Designer?

In the most simple terms, the definition of instructional designer is the person who designs an education experience. The roles and responsibilities of instructional designer positions include writing learning objectives, writing content for guides, eLearning courses, and videos, as well as interviewing experts in the field.

When it comes to instructional design in eLearning creation the designer often makes the script for the eLearning, outlining what should be said for the lesson. While they don’t actually create the eLearning themselves, the role of instructional designer professionals is to write the content associated with the eLearning, as well as providing notes on how they expect it to be structured so the eLearning developer knows just what to do.

What Is an Instructional Designer

Instructional Designer Skill Set

Now, let’s talk all about the top skills of an instructional designer. As the instructional designer creates the content and imagines the final product of the eLearning, the skills needed for instructional designer roles are numerous.

Instructional designer core competencies include:

  • Creating learning objectives
  • Choosing the right methodology
  • Writing instructional content
  • Interviewing relevant experts on the topics
  • Researching other instructional content
  • Writing quiz questions
  • Creating activities

An instructional designer skillset must include forward-thinking planning of the curriculum as their content paves the way for the course based on eLearning best practices and expert insight.

What Is an eLearning Developer?

Now that we know what an instructional designer developer does, what is an eLearning developer?

Basically, where the Instructional designer designs the course, the eLearning developer actually builds the course. An eLearning course developer uses what the instructional designer wrote to implement their content and assets into the final course. This starts by taking a look at the storyboard provided to make sure the content makes sense and will work with the tools available within an eLearning course. Then, an eLearning developer will begin building the course, working together with the instructional designer to ensure premium functionality and a user-friendly experience with content to match.

Ultimately, when considering eLearning developer roles and responsibilities, they are designers. This team member often has a graphic design background and has a keen understanding of how to create an engaging course using the content that was provided to them.

What Is an eLearning Developer

eLearning Developer Skills

With a strong design background and an eye for the best user experience, eLearning developer skills run the gamut as they work with the instructional designer to create top-notch eLearning. eLearning developer roles and responsibilities can include:

  • Utilizing eLearning authoring tools to create interactive eLearning
  • Expertise in editing photos and videos to suit a course
  • Ability to program a range of interactions and gamified courses
  • Relying on keen design principles to create a user-friendly, aesthetic, high-quality training. Understanding HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other web development tools to create custom designs

Instructional Designer vs. eLearning Developer Roles in eLearning Design and Development

So, how does a course developer vs instructional designer play a role in each step of the eLearning design and development process? With a multi-step process, understanding instructional designer responsibilities versus that of the developer is essential to a smooth-running process.

To help make sense of it, we are breaking down the instructional designer vs eLearning developer responsibilities throughout each phase of the process. Check it out!

Discussing The Scope And Design of The Course

The first step is understanding the scope and design of the course. This is typically the role of instructional designers in eLearning processes as they meet with authorities in the organization to understand expectations and how a course should operate. From there, a design plan will be created to lay out just what features and elements should be included.

Deciding On Course Objectives

Now that a design document has been finalized, the instructional designer will continue to work with authorities and stakeholders to determine the objectives of the course. At this time, the instructional designer should not only determine objectives but gather any necessary information and materials. This includes links to other websites, notes, and more. Then, based on the objectives, the instructional designer will create an outline of the interactions and activities of the course to make sure it’s engaging and hits on all the objectives.

Content Development

It’s finally time to get into the content! This is also when the eLearning developer first steps in, working with the instructional designer as they explain the objectives they were given and the potential outline. At this time, the two will begin dividing the content associated with the objectives into different topics and lessons, creating a storyboard to break it down into a more digestible format.

Instructional Designer vs. eLearning Developer Roles


Now, it’s back to the stakeholders who will review this storyboard and make any necessary changes. This step can be repeated multiple times as the instructional designer and eLearning developer look to create just what the team had in mind.


Once a storyboard is finalized, the development of the course can begin. This is where the eLearning developer really takes the reins as they plug in all that the instructional designer wrote and outlined, creating a course with all the necessary elements - from navigation to activities, video, and other engaging user experiences.

As you can tell, there’s quite a lot of overlap and collaboration between the designer and developer as the two work in tandem to create a well-functioning, digestible eLearning course.

So, Bottom Line: What’s the Difference Between an eLearning Developer and an Instructional Designer?

At the end of the day, the difference between eLearning developer and instructional designer roles comes down to content vs implementation. The instructional designer will ideate and write the necessary content for a course, outlining exactly how it should be implemented. From there, an eLearning developer plugs in all the information to create a well-running, interactive course.

While the roles of an instructional designer vs eLearning developer are clear, the two positions do have a great deal of overlap as they collaborate to create the best possible eLearning. It’s a complex process with a lot of moving parts, but when the two positions work well together, it reflects in an engaging course design.

If you have more questions about creating eLearning courses or want a cutting-edge team to take on the task for you, Allegro Media Design is here to help with expert, elevated learning experiences. Contact us today to learn more about creating the best courses for your business.