Instructional Design

The term “Instructional Design” refers to the creation of understandable instructions pertaining to the construction or manipulation of a subject. The aim of any designer within this field is to create these directions to be easily interpretable and with a high degree of succinctness. This is achieved through a prior understanding of the design’s targeted audience, along with an awareness of cultural and societal norms/limitations.

The creation of a set of successful instructions requires careful consideration of visual elements such as colour, hierarchy, layout and type to all convey meaning. With a good understanding of how these elements coincide with one another, along with how they will be interpreted by the viewer, will result in an instructional that is able to much more effectively convey correct meaning while avoiding unnecessary misunderstanding.


IKEA Instructions

IKEA Instructions

The instructions provided with IKEA furniture are somewhat notorious for being almost too simple in their design. With minimalistic black-on-white illustrations, these simple line diagrams quickly convey the objects they represent, distilling them down to their most identifiable traits. Direction is conveyed through distinctive arrows as the instructions lack any accompanying text descriptions. The pieces within the kit are labelled and identifiable through a key found at the beginning of each booklet.

LEGO Instructions

LEGO Instructions

The instructions found accompanying the plastic building toy, Lego, feature colourful, vibrant illustrations suitable for their primary audience of 5-12 year olds. Directions are conveyed through simple before and after images labelled with numbers implying piece placement. Where more complicated tasks are required, these instructions employ simple distinctive arrows to convey movement. At the top of each page is a key containing all of the pieces utilised and relevant to that particular page to avoid the need to label each piece throughout and take away from the succinctness of actual instructions.

Airplane Emergency Instructions

Airplane Emergency Instructions

Given the urgency and need for directions to be understood quickly in an emergency, the instructions for dealing with flight crisis situations often appear to employ a similar, minimalistic style of imagery that highlights important information through high contrasting colours. Directions are portrayed through scenes of a situation where the character in view is intended to be mimicked in the real world. Text can sometimes accompany the images but more often than not, direction will be conveyed through arrows that stand out in bright red.

Emergency exit opening instructions [Screenshot]. (n.d.). Retrieved from
IKEA Systems B.V. (2016). Billy bookcase [Screenshot]. Retrieved from
Lego Group. (2012). R2-D2 10225 [Screenshot]. Retrieved from

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