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1 Hour of Responsive Design in Adobe Captivate – How long does it take you?

Image of four businesswomen interacting at meetingI know this has been a topic that has been discussed on other sites but I would really like to engage in a discussion on this topic with other Captivate developers. What are your thoughts?

Consider that not all eLearning is created equal so let’s discuss this with level 1, 2, and 3 eLearning in mind, where level 1 is minimal to no interaction such as question slides and basic navigation; level two is intermediate interaction such as tabbed content, scenario based and basic branching; and level 3 is full interactive scenario based training with multiple branching paths. Also, let’s consider that you are just developing the project from a fully realized design. I know some of us are also designers but let’s assume that design time would be roughly the same for most of us.

Here are my initial thoughts.

1 hour of development for level 1 could take me anywhere 40 – 50 hours. I think you could add 20 – 30 hours for level 2 and perhaps 20 – 30 hours for level 3.

Maybe I’m wrong but I would love to hear some other thoughts.


9 Responses

  1. Paul,

    I’ve always used the 1 screen = 1 minute rule for the user experience. Granted, title screens only take a moment or two for the learner to read, but another screen with a high level of interactivity may take more than a minute – so it all comes out in the wash, so to speak.

    I recently did a statement of work on a particular project and I used the number of screens to help me do those calculations rather than time. I allowed for three hours of developer time per screen. Then, since this is an in-house project with a number of SME’s giving input, I actually DOUBLED that number because of the extensive review I know is coming.

    Applying those numbers then, a 30-screen course takes 30 minutes for the user to complete. 6 hours per screen = 180 development hours (90 for developer, 90 for SMEs).

    And yes, the SOW indicates these courses will be prepared for delivery via mobile.


    • Yeah see that’s the whole rub eh? All the reviews and revisions. It’s so difficult to calculate because each client is different. I have some who seemingly don’t care what you deliver, others are worried about spelling out every acronym and making sure the closed captions are timed precisely to the narration and so on.

  2. Hey Paul and Chuck,

    This is a really interesting topic, but as they say, the “devil is in the details” so lets define some terms. Development can be a really big term, so when you say development, do you mean the full project view including:

    Development: Do you include the research, DACUM, SME interview portion of the project as development time?

    Scripting: Textual Scripting of all sections

    Graphics: Are you including development of graphics or custom simulations?

    Multimedia: Are you including custom 3D/2D animations creation?

    Graphical Story Boarding: Assemble all textual and graphical elements create comprehensive near-output storyboards.

    Narration: Are you including creating this yourself or just syncing and inserting it.

    Testing: Testing and optimizing on the LMS

    Or are you just referring to the instructional design process and then handing it over to an eLearning guy/gal?

    Lets keep this thread going!


    • When I started in the business, I worked for an organisation which just said go forth and make eLearning. The entire ADDIE process was up to me. I did my analysis and interviewed SMEs and so on. If I wanted human narration instead of text to speech, I recorded it. If I wanted to shoot a video, I shot a video. For me, the design process was everything that the eLearning project needed.

      Since going freelance, I do a lot more of what I would call development. Organizations need me to take their storyboard and all their resources (some provide them, some do not) and create an eLearning project file and that’s where I start and finish as a developer.

      I agree Steve, I think these types of conversations are good to have. First so we know what we are worth. I’ve seen people advertising $5 for one page of eLearning. I don’t know what a customer would get for $5 but it’s these types of things that give our industry problems when it comes to providing our customers accurate estimates. I’ve made the mistake when I started freelancing three years ago to take a low offer just because I needed the cash. Five months later when the money is spent and you’re still working on that project essentially for free, it can get very depressing.

  3. Paul, Chuck and Steve:

    A great idea to get this thread going. During the last three months, I was researching this same topic. I was considering the entire development process including instructional design and the only current source of information that I found was a 2009 Association for Talent Development article ( It seems strange that there is not any current information available.


  4. Hey Paul,

    Thanks for the clarification and I agree. When a client calls me they rarely are looking an eLearning service. They are looking for a solution to a problem they have, that they believe training will solve. The solution I propose and deliver is why they hire me.

    I had a really good example of this process in action yesterday. I discovered a large, menacing hornets nest hanging off the high eaves of my house. I called a pest control company. The guy came out, dealt with the nest in literally five minutes. Collected his $125.00 and left. I was happy, he was happy.

    I wasn’t paying him for his time. I paid him for his expertise and tools.


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