While a few hours of online training won’t make a professional, there are many online courses anyone can take to build on what they already know. Gaining some fundamental understanding of these concepts can help you take what you intuitively recognize in UX and being able to articulate it to designers.
Springboard User Experience Design
Springboard is a mentor-led platform for online courses in a number of fields, especially relating to technology. It is built on the premise that learning is a lifelong investment that everyone can benefit from. Springboard delivers education through a mentor model, in which you take classes online and at your own pace with help from someone who is experienced in the area of study. Springboard currently has a 4.83 out of 5 stars rating in 92 reviews.
The Springboard User Experience Design is led by Julia Debari, who works as a senior UX designer as well as teaching the subject. The course focuses not just on the technical aspects of UX fundamentals but dives into understanding how customers approach a product or experience. The course is designed not just for engineers and designers, but product managers, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in learning fundamentals and best practices without going into how to use specific tools to achieve those ends.
The course is just over 62 hours in length and provides text, videos, and other resources designed to help beginners get a grasp of UX design.
UX Tree is a video-based learning system that focuses exclusively on UX design. They offer a range of courses from basic principles to complex applications.
The UX Design for Beginners course provides the fundamentals of design from a human-centered perspective. The course has interviews with UX professionals and a practical guide to becoming a UX designer. Because the course is focused on the beginner, it leaves the technical details out of the training and focuses on giving you a grasp of what is entailed in UX design, so you can understand how it applies to real-world applications.
Of course, there are benefits to going beyond the basics. Even if you never use the tools and information provided to design UX yourself, getting a grasp of what is involved in designing the user experience can help you understand the challenges and skills needed to design what you need. UX Tree provides courses in Android Studio for Designers, Designing and Prototyping for Apple Watch, and Prototyping iOS Apps in XCode. If you’re not sure what those tools are, taking a quick course can introduce you to the strengths and limitations your designers face when creating the user experience.
The Design Thinking Workshop introduces a process for tapping into creativity and designing better solutions. This course can benefit not only designers and engineers but anyone who can benefit from finding creative solutions to thorny problems. The course covers topics related to how to improve design thinking and provides resources for learning more after the course.
Presented by Jane Portman, an independent UI/UX consultant from Russia, UI Breakfast helps you gain a foundational understanding of UX design. The website has several free resources and is structured around the popular blog and podcast she creates to help users address practical, real-world problems with UX design.
The 1-Hour UI Audit course is a series of three emails with 20 minutes of material presented each day. Designed to be consumed along with breakfast, the quick course briskly walks the user through identifying design problems and finding a solution.
The first module is entitled “Define Your Strategy,” and helps the user define the audience as a key to improving UX design. You will also learn to formulate your goals, tasks, and objects of the UX experience in a way that addresses your UX issues.
The second module, “Audit Key Screens in Your Web App,” identifies key screens of your app and provides a usability checklist for each screen. Learn about the four key components the ideal screen needs, and how to define and address the biggest UX challenges with each of these.
The final module, “Plan for Improvements,” helps the user plan for UX improvements and identify the next steps they need to take to continue upgrading the experience for users.
While this is ambitious for just an hour-long course, Portman delivers brilliantly in providing a way to assess your current UX and spot areas for improvement, while avoiding errors such as making your design too efficient.
Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
Scott Klemmer is a professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science & Engineering at UC San Diego. Klemmer was a co-founder of Design Lab and has given a popular TED talk on Design called Postcards from the Future.
Klemmer has presented a noteworthy course called Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction that is available for a charge through Coursera. However, Stanford University is making the same course available for free through their OpenClassroom site. This is an introductory course and so is accessible to beginners, but Klemmer presents sophisticated concepts and strategies that are used in the most advanced UX design as well.
The course provides 43 video lectures and takes users through a project to apply the principles being taught in a practical application. The course covers topics in user-centered design, expounding on the basics of designing for people, and goals and prototyping. In the prototyping section, Klemmer goes into greater detail on brainstorming and conformity versus novelty. There’s a section devoted to learning how to evaluate designs and another exclusively to conducting user studies to capture results from users on their experience with the design.
While this course may go deeper than you are looking for in getting a fundamental grasp of UX Design, Klemmer is a good communicator and teacher, and never leaves you feeling left out of the conversation. You will come away with a greater appreciation for UX design and a deeper understanding than most introductory courses can manage.
Tools Change – Fundamentals Remain.
While there are many ways to approach UX design, the basics are largely the same across the board. The tools available for UX design today are quite different from the ones available ten years ago and likely very different from what will be available just a few years in the future.
Augmented reality (AR) is looking to become a major factor in how users interact with their environment, and Apple’s advances in this area probably indicate it will have a dramatic impact on UX design in the near future. While this may look like nothing more than gimmicky game technology today, the prospect for business productivity could be unprecedented.
Whatever the future brings, fundamentals of understanding how the user interacts with your product, how to prototype to gain feedback, and how to present information in ways that are not only efficient but intuitive and appealing to the user, are going to remain. Gaining a grasp of those fundamentals now will better prepare you for whatever direction technology takes in the future.