Beyond Education: How Instructional Design Drives Business Growth

Beyond Education: How Instructional Design Drives Business Growth

One of the most exciting approaches SaaS companies have adopted in recent years is the transition from Sales-Led Growth to Product-Led Growth (PLG).

It turns out that instructional design plays a pivotal role in this transformation, and it’s time we shed light on this dynamic duo.

Wait, What is PLG?

Product-Led Growth (PLG) is more than just a buzzword in modern product design.

It’s a strategy that revolves around designing the product itself as the driving force behind its growth, rather than relying heavily on traditional marketing and sales, while letting Customer Success and Support teams carry the heavy load of onboarding and supporting users through the ins and outs of the product.


The problem with Sales-Led Growth is that as the product matures, it becomes more robust but also more complex.

It includes more features, often developed by different teams operating in silos, and attempts to cater to the needs of decision-makers who call the (purchasing) shots rather than the end users.


This creates a challenge both for the customer and the Customer Success teams in charge of getting their clients up to speed on the product.

The PLG approach takes a step back and looks at the product from a more holistic and user-centric approach, ensuring the end users have a smooth and consistent experience across all product features.


When Great Instructional Design Fits Beautifully Into the Product

I was fascinated with how companies have used product training in their overall strategy for a long time.

I spent much time trying to come up with examples to show how it’s done.

While I found a few good ones, I didn’t see many great ones.

The reason, in my opinion, is that executing excellent product training as part of the product’s growth strategy is not an easy task, especially when the product is mature and robust, with many different features and moving parts that it takes very long to get around, let alone to master.

 Having said that, here are two examples I particularly liked.

 1. Webflow University: Learning as You Create

Webflow is a No-Code platform for building websites.

As it happens to be, I’m taking a Web-Design course in my free time. I stumbled across Webflow’s online courses and immediately fell in love.

Webflow University exemplifies how PLG, together with excellent product training, can create an unforgettable user experience. It teaches web design in a way that merges learning, hands-on creation, and a good amount of entertainment.

Learners access a user-friendly interface, take micro-learning tutorials, and partake in interactive exercises on the Webflow design platform while getting hands-on practice building cool websites.

 Webflow doesn’t just provide information on web design; it empowers users to design websites as they learn and get good entertainment along the way.

The result? Mastery of web design in a real-world context, minus the tedious lectures.

Check out Webflow University here.


2. Canva Design School: Unleashing Creativity

Canva Design School is a fun playground for aspiring designers.

Besides offering a variety of high-end video tutorials, customizable templates, and practical exercises, Canva’s training also establishes its brand and mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.

Canva Design School knows how to “Walk their Talk” with the slick look of their tutorials and how seamlessly they integrates education with product usage.

 Check out Canva Design School here.

So What Does It Have To Do With Instructional Design?

From a Product-Led Growth perspective, an excellent instructional design is pivotal in creating a great user onboarding experience and helping users succeed with the product.

It also takes a paradigm shift that requires us to prioritize the users’ context and objectives over careless information dump.

At its core, PLG redefines how we approach training by placing action and transformation at the forefront.

It fits perfectly with the Action Mapping model developed by Cathy Moore, which emphasizes the business objectives and behavior change we want to see in our learners rather than the information needed to convey. 

Tying it All Together

In Product-Led Growth (PLG), success isn’t just about product adoption; it’s about transforming users into devoted advocates. A well-executed product training incorporated into the PLG strategy has the potential to transform regular users into enthusiastic fans who champion the product’s excellence.
For instructional designers and L&D professionals, this paradigm shift offers invaluable lessons.

It encourages us to focus and prioritize user (learner)-centricity over other stakeholders’ needs and forces us to take a more holistic view of the whole learning experience.

The PLG approach is a great reminder to take a step back and consider training an integral part of the overall business strategy.
Executed properly, it will undoubtedly resonate with users, earn their loyalty, and propel both the product and the learner toward resounding success.
What about you?
How do your training programs fit into the overall business strategy?
Do you know of other excellent examples?
Make sure to share them in the comments below.

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