60+ Best Instructional Design Software Tools & Resources in 2022

Updated on 
November 16, 2022
instructional design software cover image

What are the best instructional design software and tools?

Today, we’ll explore the top tools for starting and building your career as an instructional designer.

Want to learn more? Read on!

What is instructional design software?

Instructional design software refers to tools that you, as an instructional designer, would use to design and develop eLearning. There are various tools you can use:

…And many more. We’ll look at the most effective tools in the next section.

To get an introduction to the best instructional design software packages, take a look at this quick video here below:

What is the most popular instructional design software?

Now we’ll look at the top instructional design software. I recommend some of these tools because I’ve used them on my client projects, and I recommend the other tools based on their reviews from the instructional design community.

One of the most popular tools, if not the most popular tool, is Articulate Storyline 360. It’s used by most corporate teams, and it’s the most in-demand technical skill for instructional designers. So if you’re looking for just one tool to get started, then Storyline is the way to go. Also, while the rest of these tools will help you, Storyline will likely be your top priority if you’re new to the field.

So what are the best instructional design tools? Let’s dive right in.

eLearning authoring tools

First, let’s start with the top eLearning authoring tools. Including an authoring tool in your software stack is necessary–and Storyline is a solid choice. Let’s take a look at your options.

And if you want a tutorial on how to use these, take a look at this video I put together for you:

Storyline 360

Articulate Storyline is the most essential instructional design software. It was the most popular tool when I got into the industry back in 2017, and continues to be the most popular tool over 5 years later.

If you’re familiar with PowerPoint, then you’ll find many similarities between PowerPoint and Storyline 360.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: From $1,099 per year, with a 30-day free trial for the entire Articulate 360 suite

Here’s my take on why Storyline is so important for instructional designers:

Rise 360

Articulate Rise is a cloud-based eLearning authoring tool that is part of the Articulate 360 suite. So Storyline and Rise go hand in hand. This tool is ideal for building simple, mobile-responsive courses quickly.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: From $1,099 per year, with a 30-day free trial for the entire Articulate 360 suite

Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate is Adobe’s solution to a complete eLearning development tool. It’s a popular alternative to the Articulate suite, but the user experience is not consistent with other Adobe tools. Captivate has a slight edge over Storyline when it comes to software simulations, but people generally prefer the user experience of Storyline.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $33.99 per month

iSpring Suite

The iSpring Suite is an all-inclusive eLearning authoring tool that is best known for being easy to use. It’s perfect for beginner instructional designers. The UX is almost identical to PowerPoint but with more polished animations and interactions.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $770 per year

iSpring Page

iSpring Page is one of the best instructional design tools for anyone new to the field. It’s low cost so a great entry point and you can experiment with creating micro courses before progressing to larger projects.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $97 per user per year

Lectora

Lectora is one of the industry leaders when it comes to instructional design software. It boasts high accessibility which is great for creating learning assets for all. It’s flexible, powerful and has a great library of assets to help you.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $1,399 per year

Chameleon Creator

Chameleon Creator stands out because it has a design-led approach to learning and authoring. With a beautiful user interface, you can create equally beautiful learning assets for clients without any coding knowledge. It’s a great tool for beginners.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $75 per month for freelancer plan

DominKnow

DominKnow is a cloud-based eLearning authoring tool that concentrates on efficiency and creating responsive, professional learning assets. It’s designed to work best for teams, with powerful collaborative authoring and review tools.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: From $997 per year.

Instructional design LMS tools

Learning Management Systems help you create and track courses. Some LMS tools also come with in-built authoring software. Here are my favorites:

TalentLMS

TalentLMS is a comprehensive training platform that prioritizes ease-of-use. Using their intuitive drag-and-drop system, you can create media-led courses from scratch in no time. You can also add SCORM files for more interactivity. It’s a great all-rounder.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium plans from $69 per month

Brainshark

Brainshark combines authoring software and an LMS system to create the perfect all-rounder for corporate instructional designers. This tool is built with business training in mind for sales teams. You can create engaging courses here and deliver them using scorecards and streamlined onboarding.  

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Works based on custom quotes depending on your needs

Canvas LMS

Canvas is a digital classroom app that uses an integrated learning approach. The platform is designed around 6 pillars for student success: learning management, assessment, content, online programs and professional development. It’s great for IDs in the education sector.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

RockstarLearning Platform

RockstarLearning Platform by eLearning Brothers is a digital learning platform, LXP and LMS all rolled into one. It’s designed to serve enterprises of all sizes but works especially well for large organizations with multiple locations.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available. Customized pricing for businesses.

Video and recording tools

Video and recording tools are foundational tools for most instructional designers. A good editing or audio tool can help you take your eLearning material to the next level.

Vyond

Vyond (formerly GoAnimate) is a video production platform that allows you to make professional, sleek-looking animated videos with no special technical or creative knowledge. Videos contain customizable animated figures for engaging training videos in no time (and the tool is becoming increasingly popular in the corporate instructional design space)

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Basic plan from $25 per month (billed annually)

Adobe Premiere Pro

If you need Adobe Premiere Pro is a tool that’s used to edit videos. It comes with advanced features, such as effects, animations, and more. This tool is moderate-difficult (or even easy-difficult) to learn. If you are already familiar with video editing tools, it’ll be easier to get a hang of Premiere Pro faster.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Starting at $20.99 per month

YouTube

YouTube is the primary video-sharing platform on the internet, and with good reason! Not only is it free and intuitive to use, but you can also easily embed YouTube videos into a wide range of course platforms and websites to create a video course.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

Snagit

Snagit is a simple screen capture and recording software. I recommend it for screenshots and screen recording as you can export your captures as videos or animated GIFS. This is perfect for courses and training videos.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $62.99

Camtasia

Camtasia is a video editing platform and screen recorder that is perfect for instructional designers. Because it’s made for beginners, you won’t find an easier video editing software that can help you put a video course together. It also includes light interactive functionality in case you’d like to add quizzes to your videos.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $239.99 for the first install then $50 per year for an ongoing subscription

iSpring Cam Pro

iSpring Cam Pro is a screen recorder that perfectly integrates with the iSpring Suite. It’s designed specifically for screen capture for software training videos, allowing you to record voiceovers and presenter videos too. You can make annotations as you record and edit in smooth scene transitions. Create easy training videos in no time.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $227 per user per year

Screenflow

If you have a Mac, Screenflow is a great video editing and screen recording software to try. It’s a little easier to use than Final Cut Pro, but you can still create professional videos with these powerful editing tools, animations and graphics.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: One-time purchase starting at $169

Loom

Loom is a great, flexible dual-screen recorder that allows you to record your screen and your webcam at the same time. This is perfect for instructional videos as you have the personal touch of showing your face on camera while you demonstrate the process.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Freemium. $8 per month for the business version

CloudApp

With CloudApp you can create high-quality screen recordings, screenshots, and GIFs with just a few clicks. You can annotate your captures to explain certain features and share the files with simple links.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium version from $9.95 per month

Audio tools

Audio tools help you add high-quality audio to your eLearning material. Here are two tools you can use:

Audacity

Audacity is a free, open-source audio recording and editing platform. It’s great for creating high-quality audio clips to add to your slides. You can export into wav and mp3 form.  Once you get used to the system, it’s easy to edit audio in no time.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

BBC Sound Effects

To create more engaging slides and improve your audio clips, you need sound effects. BBC Sound Effects is a huge library of sound effects you can use with commercial or non-commercial licenses.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: You can purchase each sound effect individually. Price varies from $5 per sound.

Survey and data collection tools

As an instructional designer, you often have to conduct surveys and gather data. These tools help you do just that.

Google Forms

Google Forms is surprisingly flexible for a free app! Google Forms allows you to send out forms to people for surveys and more. It’s simple to use while also allowing a lot of customization so you can get the answers you need.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

Typeform

Typeform is an intuitive, streamlined web app that helps you create customized surveys, quizzes and forms. This is what I use for all of my surveys.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium starts at $25 per month

SurveyMonkey

If Typeform is a little too stylized for your taste, Survey Monkey is a simpler alternative. It’s a leading software for survey and data collection.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Basic free plan available, premium plans from $31 per month

CrowdSignal

CrowdSignal creates interactive, beautiful but simple surveys that are easy to create and easy to complete. Like TypeForm, the surveys can get quite complex with conditional responses, ratings and quizzes for more accurate data.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium version from $15 per month

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an excellent tool for data collection and tracking. It’s perfect for tracking behaviors of real-life customers and is the best reporting tool on the internet for web traffic.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

Presentation tools

Most instructional designers need to create engaging presentations. And to do that, you need the right presentation tools. However, you don’t need anything too fancy; PowerPoint is an excellent choice.

PowerPoint

PowerPoint by Microsoft continues to be the industry leader when it comes to presentation programs. It’s intuitive, simple, and allows lots of customization.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $149.99 one-time purchase or $99.99 per year for the full Microsoft suite

Prezi

Prezi is a flexible suite of tools that are built around presenting in the best way for learning. With the education bundle, you get access to Prezi Present, Prezi Design, and Prezi Video, which work in sync to help you create the most engaging learning assets.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Starting at $3 per month

Interactive learning tools

Interactive learning tools are getting more popular. For instance, if you need to create no-code learning apps or gamify your learning experience, these tools help you do just that.

Glide Apps

Glide is an app builder that businesses will love as a learning tool. You can create custom apps for your clients using their templates as a guide or start from scratch. They have a library of templates that include simple courses and quizzes that you can customize.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium plans from $25 per month

Landbot

Landbot is an intuitive chatbot app that businesses can use to provide answers to potential customers or training assistance to staff members. That’s where you come in. You can use chatbot technology to facilitate learning in an organization. Landbot is one of the best out there.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: From $39 per month

QuizGame

Quizzes are perfect for interactive learning. QuizGame provides a method to reinforce employee knowledge with quick games that are accessible on any device.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Starts at $3.81 per user per year for 100 users

Content and communication sharing tools

Good instructional design isn’t just about creating eLearning material. It’s also about communicating and sharing information. And that’s something you can do with these content and communication sharing tools.

Slack

To stay in touch with clients or facilitators, Slack is an excellent tool. With multiple channels that you can create, you can easily share ideas and media.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, $7.25 per month

Zoom

Everyone knows Zoom, which is one of its biggest benefits! For remote meetings and interviews, this is the software of the moment.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $149.90 per year

Dropbox

Dropbox is a great cloud-based file storage and sharing app. It has multiple third-party integrations making file sharing incredibly easy across devices and between team members. There’s a robust free version but if you’re saving large files, you’ll want the premium version.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, solo workers plan from $16.99 per month

Image, graphics, and infographics tools

How do you create the best images and graphics? With these image, graphic, and infographic tools, you’ll create beautiful and engaging visuals for your eLearning material. ¨

In this quick video, I talk more about where to find graphics:

Adobe Illustrator

I use illustrator the most out of the whole Adobe suite. I highly recommend it for creating and modifying vector graphics to use in your e-learning projects.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  $20.99 per month

Canva

Canva is one of the easiest design tools for new instructional designers. If you’re just starting out, Canva has some excellent basic vector and design tools you can use without a steep learning curve.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $12.99 per month

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a tool to create prototypes. So why include it in a list of best instructional design software? Advanced IDs use it to create visual mock-ups for slides before building them. It’s easy to iterate your design in Adobe XD before developing the final product in an eLearning development tool like Storyline 360.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  Only available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite at US$599.88/year

Figma

Figma is an alternative to Adobe XD that is dominating the space because of its collaboration tools. Adobe XD is great for prototyping on your own, but if you want to collaborate with others Figma is a far better user experience.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  $12 per editor per month

Infogram

Infogram allows you to create engaging infographics with an intuitive, drag-and-drop designer. They have a great collection of designer templates to get you started making infographics that will help your learning tools stand out.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  Free plan available, premium plan from $19 per month

Pexels

Pexels is a free stock photo platform with great quality imagery. There is also an extensive royalty-free video library. These are great for adding visual interest to your slides.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

Unsplash

Unsplash is another free stock photo platform with a wide range of imagery you can use for your eLearning projects. The photo libraries are creative, rich and diverse which adds beauty to your work.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  Free

Flaticon

Flaticon is the ultimate resource for vector icons. With over 8.2 million icons and stickers, you can find any possible icon in a wide range of styles. With the premium plan, you can download in multiple formats and edit the vector in the app.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  Free plan available, premium plan $12.99 per month

Freepik

Freepik is the home of high-quality stock photos, illustrations, and vectors. It also has fonts, text effects and templates which are unique for this kind of platform.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  Free plan available, premium plan includes Flaticon membership and premium assets for $12 per month

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is Adobe’s library of photos and videos that you can use in your slides. You can count on Adobe to provide high-quality, unique imagery for your presentations.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $29.99 for 10 assets per month

Google Fonts

If you want to up your typography game, you can’t go wrong with Google Fonts. This huge database of fonts, categorized by slant, thickness, weight and language, allows you to find the perfect type for the learning assets you’re creating.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  Free, all fonts are open source

Mind mapping tools

With mind mapping tools, you can collect and brainstorm your own thoughts. You can also brainstorm with your team, for instance, by getting the subject matter expert to share their ideas and insights.

Xmind

Xmind is a powerful brainstorming and mind-mapping app. You can create detailed, color-coded mind maps to help you visualize your learning design. Whether you prefer traditional mind maps, brace maps, fishbone charts or tree charts, Xmind has got you covered.

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  $59.99 per year

MindMeister

MindMeister creates beautiful mind maps with custom styles and varied layouts. This app is better for collaboration as you can add comments and receive notifications when your clients or team members comment on your notes. You can even embed photos, videos and documents to streamline your brainstorming.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free option available, premium plan from $4.99 per month

eLearning templates

Looking for eLearning templates? Take a look at these eLearning tools:

eLearning Brothers

eLearning Brothers provides some of the best instructional design templates on the market. It has over 160 million assets to choose from. That goes beyond PowerPoint and xAPI templates. That also includes sound effects, stock photos and vector icons!

Pros:

Cons:

Price:  $1,399/year

eLearningLearning

eLearningLearning is a digital platform geared toward instructional designers and learning professionals to sharpen their knowledge. They have a resource page where they share free templates for several LMS and authoring tools. It’s an excellent source of easy templates for beginners.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

Project management tools

Project management is incredibly important for successful instructional design projects. And here are the top tools!

Basecamp

Basecamp is an awesome simple project management tool. You organize your projects into simple templates including documents, to-do lists, schedules and message boards. You can easily collab with team members or clients with this clean, intuitive system.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: $11 per user per month

Trello

Trello is an excellent instructional design software tool if you like visual planning for your projects. Using the Kanban method, Trello helps you organize your projects into boards that you move from stage to stage in your workflow.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium version from $5 per month

Notion

Notion is another productivity tool that is more complex but more powerful. It covers all bases of your workflow from note-taking

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium version from $4 per month.

Instructional design courses

How do you acquire the right skills and build your career as an instructional designer? Here are the top courses for instructional designers:

ID Bootcamp

The ID Bootcamp is my flagship course designed to help you become a great instructional designer that wows potential clients and scores high-paying opportunities. The ID Bootcamp goes step by step through how to use the best instructional design software, the principles of modern ID, and how to build a portfolio that lands you top clients. You get 1-to-1 support from my team and weekly feedback sessions with me. You’ll come out of the course ready to leap into instructional design as a profitable, rewarding career.

You can learn more about the bootcamp here.

Storyline Project Lab

Remember I said that Articulate Storyline is the most essential tool for instructional designers? Having used it to build my successful freelance career, I’ve created a course to show you just how powerful this tool can be.

In this course, we dive deep into how to use Articulate Storyline and create portfolio projects that grab the attention of potential clients and hiring managers.

Learn more about the Storyline Project Lab here.

Price: $999

Free Code Camp

If you want to upskill as a more advanced instructional designer, learning to code is a great option. Free Code Camp is a free platform that teaches you how to code. Adding front-end web development skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) to your toolkit will make you stand out in the instructional design space.

Price: Free

Instructional design career tools

Want to build your instructional design career? These tools will help you get started.

Webflow

Webflow is a website builder I highly recommend for creating and hosting your portfolio. You don’t need any coding knowledge to create an engaging professional website. With plenty of customization options, you can even build learning sites and interactions for the web.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, premium plans from $14 per month

LinkedIn

To land more opportunities, every instructional designer needs a strong LinkedIn profile. It’s a great place to land clients and build connections in the field.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free version available, LinkedIn Premium $29.99 per month

Devlin Peck’s ID Community

Want to join a buzzing community of instructional designers? My community is great for connecting with industry peers, asking questions, and getting help from colleagues at every stage of their career. It’s a friendly, welcoming community. We sometimes host live events, too, to strengthen that all-important network.

Pros:

Cons:

Price: Free

eLearning books

Want to polish your skills? Take a look at these eLearning books.

And if you want even more books, take a look at this quick video:

Map It

Map It by Cathy Moore is a handbook for designing effective training for clients. It helps you identify the pain points and gives you practical tips on how to build training that works. This book is ideal if you want to go into corporate instructional design. You can’t create effective training without knowing how to identify the core issue in a business. This book will help you do just that.

Price: $57

The Non-Designer’s Design Book

A key part of instructional design is the visual design. Creating engaging, clean, effective learning tools is your core work, so it helps to brush up on your design skills! The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams is perfect for you if you have no formal background in visual design. It centers on the fundamentals of design in an accessible, fun style. It has practical advice, quizzes and tons of imagery to hone your design skills. Trust me, you need this book!

Price: $18.77

Over to you!

There you have it! Now you know what instructional design software to use.

Storyline 360 is THE tool for instructional designers, but there are also plenty of other tools that can make your life easier.

But while tools are great, they are just that–tools. To build a successful career, you also need to know how to use them, develop your skills, and position yourself well for employers and clients.

That’s what I teach in the ID Bootcamp. If you want to learn more about how to build your career as an instructional designer, take a look at the portfolios and results our students have achieved after working with me and my team.

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