Whether you are an experienced instructional designer or a beginner, sophisticated eLearning tools can help streamline the complex task of course building. There are plenty of options, from cutting-edge audio-video software to authoring tools or photo-sharing platforms. The devices come power-packed with robust features that make creating high-quality and engaging learning content more accessible.
But if the cost of instructional design tools turns you down, here is some good news.
There are numerous free tools available online today. They offer features, services, and resources to streamline the design process and enhance the overall quality of eLearning courses. However, not all free tools are built equally. Therefore, we have outlined the seven best free instructional design software tools for your next project.
TL;DR: Top free instructional design software tools in 2024
- iSpring Suite
- Articulate 360
- Adobe Captivate
- Talent LMS
- Bonus instructional design software: Scribe
What is instructional design software?
Instructional design software is a comprehensive suite of tools and features that help create valuable and engaging eLearning content with a learner-centered approach. Instructional designers use these tools to develop learning content for onboarding, employee training, sales training, customer training, etc. The software also allows sharing of digital educational content via a Learning Management System (LMS) or on the Internet.
You can create various training materials using instructional design tools. These include video lectures, e-courses, simulations, quizzes, assessments, training materials, etc. You may get limited features when speaking about free instructional design software tools.
Fortunately, the top instructional design tools offer a free trial period. This enables you to use all the premium features without spending a dime for a limited period. You can consider upgrading to a premium plan if you find the helpful tool.
💡 Check out our list of the best employee training Chrome extensions!
Key features of instructional design software tools
When you are looking for the best instructional design software, check out these key features and capabilities:
- Easy-to-use, intuitive interface.
- Content localization.
- Feedback collection.
- User segmentation.
- Dashboard, analytics, and reporting to monitor learning & engagement.
7 best instructional design software tools of 2024
#1: iSpring Suite
G2 Rating: 4.7
Capterra Rating: 4.6
iSpring Suite Pricing: 14-day free trial period available; paid plan starts at $970 per author per year
iSpring Suite Overview:
iSpring Suite is one of the best instructional design software tools that allow you to create top-notch eLearning content. It is a comprehensive suite of intelligent and intuitive tools that help save your effort, time, and money. Using the tool you can create interactive learning courses, video tutorials, assessments, role plays, etc.
Easy-to-use video editor allows you to merge or trim your videos. Make the videos more interactive by adding music, graphics, transitions, and titles. To make the eLearning content more immersive, you can also record screencasts, webcam videos, or voiceovers. Ready-made images and templates allow you to develop courses in just a few clicks.
During the 14-day free trial period, you can use all the features and capabilities that iSpring Suite offers.
#2: Articulate 360
G2 Rating: 4.5
Capterra Rating: 4.7
Articulate 360 Pricing: 30-day free trial period available; paid plan starts at $1399 per author per year
Articulate 360 Overview:
Articulate 360 is a cutting-edge platform for creating high-quality and valuable workplace learning content. The e-learning software comes with a broad range of resources and tools to streamline the process of developing instructional designs. Get started quickly with access to 9+ million course templates and stock assets. These allow you to create anything from eLearning courses to security compliances, onboarding, etc.
Make learning more interactive by adding lean-forward moments, quizzes, or interactive activities to the content. Get access to modern eLearning authoring apps such as Rise 360 and Storyline 360. The software lets stakeholders view the learning content and provide feedback in the web browser. This speeds up the process of project reviews.
The 30-day free trial period is worth trying to access a broad range of features, depending on your chosen plan.
G2 Rating: 4.7
Capterra Rating: 4.3
EdApp Pricing: Free plan available; paid plan starts from $2.95 per active user/month (free trial available on this plan)
EdApp is one of the best free instructional design software tools. It provides end-to-end support through all stages of the eLearning content development process. You can do everything from content design to delivering it to your users, tracking and analyzing the progress. Its result-driven and user-friendly library come packed with microlearning templates. These help curate high-quality and interactive learning content fast and efficiently.
The templates include various gamification elements, such as multiple-choice, videos, numbers, comparison, click & drag, etc. The software also has 1000+ free courses, which you can customize and brand to kickstart workplace learning. It also allows managing who can view, edit, or publish learning content. Powerful analytics ensure you can optimize and deliver your content in real-time.
The free plan supports unlimited users, unlimited shareable courses, built-in gamification, unlimited audio/video upload, customized branding, etc.
G2 Rating: 4.7
Capterra Rating: 4.7
UserGuiding Pricing: 14-day free trial; premium plan starts at $69 per month – billed annually
UserGuiding is a leading instructional design software that helps create step-by-step, interactive guides for user onboarding. You can also use the tool for customer feedback, feature adoption, product announcement bar, in-product messaging, product redesign walkthrough, etc. Without a single line of coding, you can create excellent product walkthroughs fast and efficiently.
The software allows you to deliver the right in-app experience to the right person at the correct phase of the user journey. You can develop self-serve user onboarding experiences, minimizing your burden. You can add up to 20,000 monthly active users during the free trial period. This depends on the plan you choose. You can also access integrations, user identification, checklists, hotspots, etc.
#5: Adobe Captivate
G2 Rating: 3.8
Capterra Rating: 4.5
Adobe Captivate Pricing: 30-day free trial; premium plan starts at $33.99 per month
Adobe Captivate Overview:
Adobe Captivate is an instructional design software that helps curate mobile-friendly, beautiful eLearning content in just a few minutes. It comes with out-of-the-box interactions, ready-to-use slides, and Quick Start Projects. These resources speed up the process of course creation. The software offers various capabilities that make creating high-quality and interactive learning courses easier.
Some features are automated branching, playing overlay videos, adding overlay slides, editing SVGs, etc. You can also copy the style and appearance of one object and apply the same to another. Create PowerPoint content and make it an immersive video with excellent interactions, overlays, etc. Use Adobe Captivate to create experiential learning experiences. These include virtual tours, mobile-ready courses, first responder situations, crisis management, etc.
G2 Rating: 4.6
Capterra Rating: 4.7
TalentLMS Pricing: Free plan supports up to 10 courses and five users; the premium plan starts at $69 per month, billed annually
TalentLMS is one of the best free instructional design software tools ideal for creating high-quality training content. It is fully customizable and easy to use. The tool makes it fast and efficient to provide the proper training for teams globally. It is ideal for creating courses for onboarding training, customer training, compliance training, sales training, and partner training.
There are numerous ready-made courses available that you can use for training. It has a free plan that supports up to 10 systems and five users. You will also get unlimited email support with the project.
#7: Bonus instructional design software tools: Scribe
G2 Rating: 4.9
Capterra Rating: 4.9
Scribe Pricing: Free basic plan.
Scribe is not truly an instructional design software. But you can use the free tool to create high-quality process documents. You can automatically develop step-by-step guides for any process. These may include customer training programs, technology training for employees, product walkthroughs, etc. It provides features like screen capturing and easy sharing with anyone and anywhere.
Try Scribe's free Instructional Design Generator to get started!
Types of instructional design software tools
There's a vast array of tools available, catering to different stages and aspects of the instructional design process. Here's a breakdown of the main categories:
eLearning Authoring Tools:
- Build interactive courses: Create engaging learning modules with quizzes, branching scenarios, simulations, and more. Popular options include Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, iSpring Suite, Lectora and Scribe.
- Rapid development: Tools like Rise 360 and Elucidat focus on quick and easy course creation through templates and drag-and-drop interfaces.
Storyboard & Planning Tools:
- Visually map out your course: Organize content flow, activities, and assessments before development. Consider tools like Miro, Figma, or even good old-fashioned whiteboards and sticky notes!
Video & Screen Recording Tools:
- Create informative videos tutorials: Explain complex concepts, showcase software features, or capture live sessions.Camtasia, Screencastify, and Loom are popular choices.
Presentation & Design Tools:
- Craft visually appealing presentations and learning materials: Design infographics, storyboards, and interactive elements. Software like PowerPoint and Google Slides can be surprisingly effective.
Learning Management Systems (LMS):
- Deliver and manage your courses: Host content, track learner progress, and analyze learner data. Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle are well-established platforms.
Collaboration & Accessibility Tools:
- Work with your team and ensure inclusivity: Facilitate online collaboration, document sharing, and accessibility checks for learners with disabilities. Google Drive, Trello, and Wrike are great options.
- Graphic design software: Adobe Creative Cloud tools like Photoshop and Illustrator can create stunning visuals for your learning materials.
- Quizmaking tools: Tools like Kahoot! and Quizizz gamify assessments and make learning more fun.
- E-reading platforms: Flipbuilder and Joomag facilitate the creation and distribution of interactive e-books.
- Microlearning tools: Microlearning is an approach that delivers short bursts of information in small modules. Scribe's free Microlearning Generator automatically creates content in seconds.
- Blended learning Chrome extensions: These tools enable blended learning, a technique that mixes in-person and online learning.
- EdTech: EdTech tools and EdTech Chrome Extensions can be used in traditional and online learning to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching and learning.
Why do you need instructional design software tools?
Creating high-quality and immersive eLearning courses can be complex and time-consuming. Instructional design Chrome extensions and tools make the eLearning content highly efficient, interactive, and engaging. The tools have remarkably improved the ways instructional designers create and present content today. You can seamlessly add visual elements such as images, videos, charts, audio, podcasts, etc. This makes the learning content more stimulating and engaging.
Some software also provides the option to curate personalized training for groups and individuals. The learning method can be tailored to the specific needs of the learners. Another advantage is that the tools help in on-demand learning. That means learners can access the courses from anywhere and at any time at their own pace. Most importantly, they help save time and effort in creating high-quality and interactive eLearning courses and other educational content.
Final thoughts: top instructional design software tools
So, here are the top free instructional design software tools to help you create eLearning content faster and more efficiently. Additionally, you do not need to spend a fortune to try the key features and capabilities. The tools discussed here either have a free plan or offer a free trial period. So, pick one that meets your needs and start making beautiful and engaging eLearning content.