Introduction to Instructional Design and Copywriting:
Instructional Design is a systemic and systematic process adopted by Human Performance Technology (HPT/HPI) practitioners using the ADDIE model to design both non-instructional (job aids/EPSS) and instructional (scenario-based learning/e-Learning/ILT/VILT) performance improvement interventions based on the needs of learners.
Copywriting is a systemic and systematic process adopted by Copywriters using the AIDA model to create eye-catching content for web pages, advertisements, promotional materials, and direct mail that convince potential customers to take action based on their needs and enhance the sales of products and/or services for the clients.
Copywriters write purposeful and persuasive content for websites, brochures, magazines, sales letters, and blog posts by incorporating the four basic design principles of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity (C.A.R.P) that drive a large group of customers to take action at once to enable the clients sell their products and/or services.
Figure 1: Infographic to depict the similarities between the ADDIE and AIDA models.
The ADDIE model for Instructional Designers:
HPT/HPI practitioners use the ADDIE model to design performance improvement interventions using a five-step process as follows:
- Analysis: They conduct a performance analysis that includes cause, organizational, and gap analyses to identify and define the performance gap (optimal-actual performance) among learners in measurable terms.
- Design: Next, they design an appropriate non-instructional/instructional/blended performance improvement intervention by using the four basic design principles of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity (C.A.R.P) to incorporate relevant graphic elements related to the intervention, along with appropriate font color and size to close the performance gap.
- Development: Then, they develop the performance improvement intervention by preparing all the materials needed for the non-instructional/instructional/blended performance improvement intervention based on the pre-determined design.
- Implementation: They implement the performance improvement intervention to a small group of learners as a pilot program during tryout followed by a formative evaluation to ensure that it meets the needs of learners and helps to close the performance gap. Any essential changes to the intervention to incorporate the feedback from learners occur during this step of the process.
- Evaluation: Finally, they rollout an updated version of the performance improvement intervention for all the learners of an organization. Then, the intervention is evaluated for its overall worth in closing the performance gap among learners at specified time periods using the Kirkpatrick’s four-level model of Evaluation to evaluate the reaction and learning among learners, their change in behavior, and business results (ROI) obtained due to the performance improvement intervention by an organization.
Thus, HPT/HPI practitioners focus on results and align them with the strategic business goals of the client organization. They follow a systemic and systematic process by working in partnership and collaboration with the client organization to assist the employees achieve its strategic goals and develop their organization into a sustainable organization. Thereby, HPT/HPI practitioners achieve the professional standards set by the ISPI (Pershing, 2006).
The AIDA model for Copywriters:
Copywriters use the AIDA model to design copies that help the potential customers arrive at an informed decision using a four-step process as follows:
- Attention: They conduct an analysis of the potential customers to identify their needs for the products and/or services provided by the clients, and draft an eye-catching headline that grabs their attention for the copy. This will help the potential customers to focus their attention on the copy and continue to read it further.
- Interest: Next, they design purposeful content to hold the interest of potential customers on the copy by using the four basic design principles of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity (C.A.R.P) to incorporate relevant graphic elements related to a specific product and/or service, along with appropriate font color and size.
- Desire: Then, they develop persuasive content for the copy by explaining how a specific product and/or service will benefit the potential customers by using real-life scenarios to create a desire among them to take action to meet their needs.
- Action: Finally, they provide a “call to action” to enable the potential customers implement their desire to take action and buy a specific product and/or service, thus become customers for the clients. This results in the sales of products and/or services for the clients. The customers will then evaluate the product and/or service. They return and continue to buy the product and/or service from the client, if they are satisfied and become repeat customers. Thereby, they help the client organization obtain a ROI.
Thus, Copywriters focus on results and align them with the strategic business goals of the client organization. They follow a systemic and systematic process by working in partnership and collaboration with the client organization to assist the customers achieve its strategic goals and develop it into a sustainable organization. Thereby, Copywriters achieve the professional standards set by the ISPI (Pershing, 2006).
Malamed, C., a well-known e-Learning, information and visual designer that consistently publishes articles and blog posts on her website, theelearningcoach.com has listed Copywriting as one of the ten writing skills essential for Instructional Designers on her blog post, 10 Types of Writing For e-Learning.
Therefore, we can conclude that Instructional Design and Copywriting are interrelated professions. Instructional Designers with excellent oral and written communication skills can also work as effective Copywriters. The question then arises, “How can Instructional Designers enhance their oral and written communication skills?” Well, the answer is simple. They can do so by “perpetual and purposeful reading and writing” to improve upon their oral and written communication skills, as there is no short cut route to success. We can only get better at doing whatever we wish to do by doing it continuously. According to an old saying, “Practice makes human beings perfect”.
Do you have any other practical ideas and/or suggestions to help Instructional Designers become effective Copywriters? If so, please reply to this post with your comments.
Clark, M. E. (2010, May 27). Tips to market your consulting business. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from https://www.td.org/Publications/Newsletters/Links/2010/05/Tips-to-Market-Your-Consulting-Business
Cooper, B. B. (2014, September 11). 14 tools to create engaging infographics and images for social media posts [Web log post]. Retrieved March 3, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/14-tools-to-create-engagi_b_4804924.html
Jagdeep, S. (2016, March 16). How can infographics enhance our instructional design skills? Retrieved March 24, 2016, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-can-infographics-enhance-our-instructional-design-sujatha-jagdeep?trk=pulse_spock-articles
Malamed, C. (n.d.). 10 types of writing for e-learning. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/10-types-of-writing-for-elearning/
Pershing, J. A. (2006). Handbook of Human Performance Technology (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.