It’s easy to do (if you know how to do it)

This is the dilemma that every game designer, form creator and teacher faces.

Writing an instruction manual, doing a survey, creating a map–they’re all difficult tasks because of the translation that’s required: the person doing the work already knows what they’re trying to teach. But the person interacting with the manual doesn’t.

The empathy required here overwhelms many people, regardless of how well-meaning they might be.

After all, the person you’re instructing doesn’t know what you know (yet). They might not learn the way you learn. And you might have come to your knowledge via a different path.

The three elements of successful instructional design might be:

Acknowledge that communicating what you know is difficult.

Find empathy for people who don’t know what you know yet.

Test the work, often.

Humility in design dances with the arrogance of believing we can help other people move forward.