E-Learning Challenge #56: What Instructional Designers Don’t Want to Hear

Oh boy! This week’s challenge was definitely a relatable and somewhat fun (somewhat angering) challenge. I think everyone out there, regardless of your profession, could easily come up with a slew of things they hate hearing (and maybe some responses). I actually saw a buzzfeed article today titled 26 Faces Every Single Retail Worker Will Immediately Recognize, and nodded my head at every single one of them over breakfast…and thanked all things holy that I no longer work in retail.

The Concept

This week, David challenged us to design an infographic, poster, or list of the 10 things Instructional Designers don’t want to hear and how we would best reply to each of these items. The latter task being the more difficult. For web designers/developers out there (and anyone else – they’re easily modifiable!), my pal Erin actually created an INVALUABLE swipe file – Designer Scripts – Email Templates for Sticky Client Situations and it’s definitely worth checking out!

The Method

The method for this challenge was a little muddy, I have to admit. The first task of course was to come up with a list of my top 10 things I hate hearing as an Instructional Designer; I thought this task would be a lot easier than it was, so I was certainly surprised!

Once I came up with my list, I took my number 1 thing I hate to hear and turned it into a little poster. If nothing else, I hope you folks can relate to that one!

The Result

10. “We don’t need a prototype.” – In this situation, I would explain to the client that I understand they’re likely on a tight budget, but that a prototype will allow us to negotiate the overall design of the product, reducing time spent within the revision cycle later in the game.

9. “I trust your expertise. Just be creative.” – Here, I would explain that I understand the client hired me for my expertise; however, signing of on some broad design elements will reduce revision cycles (and $$$) in the long run. My aesthetic might not be their aesthetic (or the end client’s). For example, what it a cat lover like me snuck in images of cute kitties throughout the course…but the client is a dog lover and absolutely hates the idea of a cat?!

8. “One review cycle should be sufficient.” – I would refer back to our delivery schedule, and remind the client of that schedule, emphasizing that if they only want to pay for one review cycle, they will need to be meticulous and schedule-conscious during their review, because I will absolutely need the two days I requested to do my revisions, and will certainly not be doing them the day before delivery.

7. “I need this finished by the end of the week.” (said as the client hands you an entire re-development of the course you created) – In this situation, I would assess the amount of revisions and explain that the timeframe requested is not a feasible amount of time for the volume of work to be done, but that you can have it completed by X date. I would also explain that this extended timeframe is due to the client wanting a complete re-do of everything developed.

6. “The Subject Matter Expert (SME) is in charge of content.” – I would let the client know that this is fantastic news, but that I expect our communications to be related directly to the content and not the design. I would explain that I expect the SME to adhere, fully, to the schedule (especially their review of the content) to ensure there is no impact to the deliverables.

5. “I could have done this in PowerPoint in waaaaaay less time.” – Really? Alright. Here, I would explain the the client that they specified the work be authored using X tool, and as such, I adhered to using the specified tool. I would also explain that developing some elements in PowerPoint may have been more time consuming than developing them in X tool. I would explain that I appreciate the opinion, but that there was a reason the client decided to hire me…to do the job that I did.

4. “I think maybe we should just change the colours. That’s an easy fix, right?” (said days before delivery) – In this situation, I would explain to the client that we signed off on the overall design prior to development, and that even an ‘easy’ fix such as changing the colour scheme would take a fair amount of time. I would tell them that I’d be happy to oblige, but it may impact the delivery date.

3. “Can you make it more interactive?” (said after reviewing an extremely dry and prescribed compliance course) – If there’s wiggle room for creativity, I would tell the client ‘sure!’ and explain the impact on the schedule. However, if the content needs to be displayed verbatim, I would explain that we would need to chat about our options and provide them with a few solutions, explaining that it will likely increase cost and development timeline.

2. “Can you add just one more scenario? Oh! and I forgot to give you this 30 page document – it needs to be incorporated into the course somehow.” (said after the first review cycle and certainly leaning into scope creep) – Here, I would explain to the client that the project scope was created to account for 5 scenarios, not 6, and that I will most certainly include a sixth scenario for X cost. As for the second item, I would explain that prior to developing the contract, I requested all content and course documentation to adequately price out the contract, and this 30 page document was not in the original estimate, so I will incorporate it at X cost to the client.

1. “This looks great, but I just can’t ‘visualize’ the end product.” (said after initial review of a text-based storyboard) – This is my most-hated sentence. I’ve heard it from clients, SMEs, programmers, media developers – UGH! This situation begs me to explain that the text-based storyboard was requested (by the client) and developed primarily as a means of reviewing the content within a certain context (of the screen and with a brief description of the supporting media elements), and that the visual elements would be available for review in the second review cycle. Similarly, during the second review cycle, I hate hearing “Can you please review the comments I made; there are a few content revisions that need to be made.” (GAH! You’re now reviewing for look/feel – bugger off!)

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