Instructional design vs LXD: the fundamental differences

Over the past few years, the eLearning industry has evolved. We have seen the development of digital tools based on learning as a LMS, introduction to mobile learning, eBooks, course simplification, entering the business sector, and much more.

Online learning has quickly become an acceptable source of informal and formal learning. As it became more learner-centered, instructional design and the design of the learning experience began to gain more and more importance.

Today, the difference between instructional design and learning experience design (LXD) is a question many are reflecting on. There are indeed fundamental differences between the methods, skills and tools of the two.

In this article, we will decipher the above-mentioned differences and their approaches in each type of design.


The design of the teaching and learning experience follows a methodical approach. They both require designers to research, analyze, design, develop, test, and implement. However, the major difference is in the way their processes are structured.

An instructional designer uses a systematic methodology. These methods are often derived from educational models and theories that work in a structured, linear, step-by-step process. In instructional design, each step acts as a basis for the next and this leads to the creation of a solid design.

It is true that an LX designer must also follow a structured process. However, an LX designer has more room to be creative. They have the space to come up with different designs and prototypes and appreciate the unpredictability of the result.

Thus, LX designers have a more experimental process than instructional designers.


While LXD has its roots in creative design, the roots of instructional design lie in the realm of learning.

Much like other creative professionals, say a graphic designer, a learning experience designer should have skills that enable them to provide a refreshing, exciting and elegant experience for learners. A graphic designer needs skills that allow him to empathize, create surprising means of communication and come up with different designs based on original ideas. This is also what is involved in LXD.

Instructional designers must develop scientific, methodical and analytical skills. Instructional designers work on developing content and curriculum to meet the needs of an academic or corporate system. They are also responsible for the effective development of eLearning courses. The pedagogical principles that these professionals use allow them to provide learners with an appropriate and clear structure.


Today there are many different tools available for instructional designers and learning experience designers.

The tools that have been introduced for instructional designers include learning management systems, PowerPoint or web services like Quizlet to name a few. When it comes to learning experience designers, there are tools that allow them to create custom designs like gaming tech, sketchbooks, custom apps, Adobe software, and more.

One of the main reasons for this difference is that the designers of instructional and learning experiences are responsible for the design of different areas of learning. Designing an experiment is very different from designing a course.

There are different design tools and methods that an experienced designer uses to meet the requirement. These can include empathy cards, experience cards, and even user characters. These are the tools that help make the learning experience more tangible.


Before concluding, it should be clear that one is definitely not better than the other. LXD and instructional design meet the different needs of different people. It would be incorrect to conclude that the instructional design and the design of the learning experience are interchangeable.

While instructional design is a more scientific skill, learning experience design is inclined to be a discipline of creative design. Instructional design can be seen as part of LXD. They are different or even completely opposite in some cases.

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