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Instructional Designer Software and Authoring Tools for Successful Course Design

Content mastery is not the only skill needed to become a successful instructional designer. In today's world, most information, if not all, is available at your fingertips. Technical skills are a must for an instructional designer.

Many aspiring instructional designers know and understand the concept of instructional design but aren't quite sure of the software tools needed to achieve the results.


What Is Instructional Design Software?

Instructional design software is any software instructional designers use to create eLearning content. This content may come in various formats, from texts and presentations to podcasts, videos, and many others. 

Course development software is the primary tool for an instructional designer. You can build engaging, interactive courses from scratch. Or turn existing training materials into eLearning courses.


The Best ID Software for Freelance Instructional Designers

1. Articulate 360

Articulate 360 is everything you need for course development in one convenient subscription.

It includes:

  • Several award-winning authoring tools
  • A new responsive-authoring app
  • Screencasting apps
  • An ever-growing library of course assets
  • An online tool for review and collaboration
  • Exclusive training webinars by industry experts

Articulate 360 is a one-stop collaboration tool for you to design, collaborate, and review eLearning courses. It includes two popular course creation apps, Storyline and Rise 360.

It also consists of the Review 360 app, which allows you to collaborate with others on projects. This software program comes with a 60-day trial, giving you 60 days to play around with and learn the basics of the software tool. This also gives you enough time to create a couple of sample eLearning courses to include in your portfolio.


2. Camtasia Studio

TechSmith’s Camtasia is a desktop powerhouse for recording and editing instructional videos. It’s available for both Mac and PC and is considered one of the most popular authoring tools for screencasts and other training videos.

The program doesn’t just allow you to record your screen and edit the captured video – there’s a quiz editing tool, stock video/audio, and various visual effects, all at your fingertips. This software comes with a 30-day free trial.


3. Vyond

With Vyond, freelance instructional designers can create animated video courses.

The program has an extensive library of built-in templates, sounds, props, and other interactive multimedia content. This allows you to make your content unique to every situation.

You can use dialogue, lip sync, and realistic movements to speed up learners' immersion in the courses. Vyond enables you, the instructional designer, to tell a story.

It includes features that will help you build compelling visualizations that keep the learners engaged. You can create custom characters, add movements, and different expressions that bring the characters to life. This software tool provides many templates to start creating your video and offers a 14-day free trial.


4. Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate is powerful instructional design software for building complex courses with interactive multimedia content.

The software can make interactive videos, Virtual Reality (VR) projects, and software simulations.

But the program comes with a steep learning curve. It provides many software tools a freelance instructional designer can use within their daily job function.

Being able to edit and manipulate images is critical when you are designing visuals for your eLearning courses. You can also benefit from the free 30-day trial.


5. Canva


Canva is a graphic-design tool website. The web tool uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photos, graphics, and fonts.

The services allow you to create various content types — from social media images to presentations, invitations, and marketing materials.

Canva enables you to use your custom brand to design anything from logos and presentations to infographics.

There are tons of templates available that allow you to edit and make them your own. You can also create GIFs and add animations to your visuals. Even though there is the Pro version of this software tool, you can very much get what you need to get done with the free version if you are tight on your budget.


6. iSpring Suite

iSpring Suite is a fully stocked toolkit designed to create interactive, mobile-ready, SCORM-compliant courses in PowerPoint.

The software allows you to quickly create quizzes, video presentations, screencasts, and dialogue simulations without special training.

With iSpring, you can convert your existing Word, PDF, and PPT manuals and textbooks into interactive e-books in a couple of clicks. This software allows a 14-day free trial.


7. Elucidat

Elucidat is a cloud-based eLearning authoring tool that allows you to produce responsive SCORM-compliant eLearning content that will work with any modern LMS.

Being an online course authoring software, your whole team, from content designers to subject-matter experts, can contribute to, review, and take part in the eLearning authoring process at any time.

Elucidat aims to be an all-in-one cloud-based solution for creating high-quality eLearning, managing content at scale, and analyzing performance.

It has all the features you’d expect from an authoring platform: templates, resources, video and audio management, a mobile responsive editor, a layout designer, and the usual interactive elements you’d expect, such as buttons, flip cards, and input boxes. There is no free trial, but you can book a free demo.


8. Lectora


Lectora offers content authoring plus similar eLearning development tools. Lectora’s popular Getting Started templates are an excellent shortcut for authoring.

Each template includes:

  • Built-in navigation
  • Interactive samples
  • Page layouts
  • Instructions for use

These built-in templates offer different learning styles and course types such as:

  • Basic linear
  • Non-linear
  • Microlearning
  • Scenario-based
  • Adaptive
  • Time-of-need/just-in-time training
  • Multimedia
  • And more

The software lets you build quizzes or surveys using 12 question types. They range from simple ones like true/false to more interactive varieties such as drag-and-drop or rank sequence.

Lectora has a competent video tool that lets you record from both your screen and webcam and edit the results. You can create transitions from one video segment to another, add effects, record narration, etc.

You can experience Lectora Online and Lectora Desktop free for 30 days.


9. DomiKnow ONE

DomiKnow One is a fully featured collaborative Course Authoring solution with responsive, traditional & software simulation authoring & an adaptive interface, making it easy for SMEs.

Yet, it is also a powerful tool for advanced designers all in one central system.

The tool offers authoring teams everything they need in one place, including traditional eLearning course authoring in Claro, modern responsive learning content in Flow, and software lesson creation in Capture.

Content can be published as SCORM, AICC, xAPI, and CMI5 packages as well as website packages, so authors can create a course to help learners come up to speed on a new task and use the same content in a searchable Knowledge Base to help when learners need an on-the-job refresher.

Content can also be published for print and presentations, extending its value to instructor-led training opportunities.

DomiKnow One also offers a 14-day free trial period.


10. Coassemble

Coassemble is a cloud-based authoring tool + LMS with capabilities of the former, similar to those of Articulate Rise.

Instructional designers can pick one of 10 ready-made templates in the long-read format and fill it with content bits like images, videos, quizzes, and text.

A surprising variety of interactive elements can be added to the screens of your course: from simple slide sequences to timeline and label images.

Finished content can then be assigned to students through the Coassemble LMS. The software tool offers a 7-day free trial.



Instructional design software tools are simple, easy-to-use software that helps you to create instructional materials in an interactive way.

Whether you are creating a training course, a tutorial, or any form of guidance for others, instructional design software allows you to do it in a structured way.

Now you know about the different instructional design software tools. Choose the best one and start creating eLearning courses faster, making them more beautiful and engaging.


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