Best interaction design courses online

March 20, 2020
Best interaction design courses to take online

Every UXer must know interaction design. Brush up on your knowledge with these great online interaction design courses!

Interaction design – the term explains itself well, right? It’s about designing interactions. But between who or what? The answer is, between user and product. When you download a new app and complete a signup form, that’s interaction. When you update your stories on Instagram, that’s interaction!

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The days of static websites and apps have long disappeared. Today nearly every digital product we use involves some form of interaction with the user. Hence, this post will explore some of the benefits that studying interaction design courses can bestow you and how it can help boost your career, as well as give you a list of best ones online.

What is interaction design?

Where many people get confused is with its relation to the field of UX design. Often people mistakenly refer to interaction design as a synonym of UX design. While it’s true that the two overlap, we could actually consider interaction design as being merely a rib in the umbrella of UX design.

The International Design Foundation describes interaction design as relating to everything from the copy a user reads on a CTA button, to visual interactions, sounds and even tactile sensations. As most websites and apps these days involve some or all of these aspects, there are many interaction design courses out there to get people up to speed quickly.

Why take interaction design courses?

The field of interaction design has come a long way. The advent of web 2.0 and the prolific advancements made with desktops, smartphones and tablets has brought more competition to the market. As a result, companies worldwide are catching on to the benefits of designing user-friendly products and solutions.

However, making a product usable requires more iteration and testing. This means developer costs can be extremely high if there isn’t an interaction designer in the house. As a result, this has led to a dramatic spike in the need for interaction designers over the last few decades, a trend that seems to show no signs of abating any time soon.

Interaction design is a useful skill in product teams

The great thing about interaction design is that, even though the concept has been around for quite a while, it’s still considered a relatively new-fangled career. That means there are many different ways to get your foot in the door.

There’s also a wide array of learning material available online to expand your knowledge skills in the subject. Check out these great online interaction design courses to instantly boost your knowledge and skills in the area!

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Best interaction design courses online: free and paid

Whether you’re a graphic designer, developer or a product manager, there’s an interaction design course out there for you. We’ve handpicked some of the best interaction design courses online for a variety of different levels, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs!

1. Interaction Design for Usability - IDF

A nonprofit online usability and user experience knowledge bank, IDF base their online learning platform around the scandinavian education model, providing what they call an “accessible and affordable ivy-league-level design education”.

Their course, Interaction Design for Usability promises to teach you all about visual UI and menu design, as well as important team strategies in the modern design world, such as the lean and agile processes. This interaction design course is ideal if you work on any product team, and afterwards, you’ll get a professional certificate that you can display on your resume or LinkedIn profile.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: €15 per month
  • Time to completion: 18 hours 12 mins spread over 17 weeks

2. Interaction Design - Nielsen Norman Group

Founded to promote and encourage better usability, NNG is a usability and consulting firm, as well as a learning platform and online knowledge bank of UX research and case studies.

However, best of all, you’ll find an Interaction Design course taught by Bruce Tognazzini covering Human Computer Interaction (HCI) principles, techniques and processes. HCI is basically a synonym of interaction design. It’s great for those from backgrounds such as graphic design or psychology, but suitable for any other discipline as well.

Interaction design courses - NNG

On this interaction design course expect to learn all about the design life cycle, as well as important conceptual tools such as Design Thinking for UX ideation and even storytelling. On top of that, you’ll learn many practical techniques such as how to build usability workshops, UX presentations and you’ll even execute five in-depth exercises to put your new knowledge to practice.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: €1,927-2,316
  • Time to completion: 3 days

3. 3D Interaction Design in Virtual Reality - Coursera

Coursera is an online learning platform that’s home to hundreds of courses that are taught by many leading universities. One course that stood out for us was 3D Interaction Design in Virtual Reality.

What we like about this interaction design course is how relevant it is to current and upcoming trends, as the VR industry is really starting to take off. What’s more is that over 50% of students that sit this course either get a pay increase or promotion. With stats like that, it’s well worth checking this one out!

Interaction design courses - 3D Interaction Design in Virtual Reality on Coursera

Taught by the University of London, this interaction design course is among best rated and actually forms a part of a full virtual reality specialization. Expect a solid grounding in how humans interact with the virtual world, as well as practical experience with hands-on projects and real experience designing VR interaction!

  • Suitable for: Intermediate
  • Cost: enroll for free or $39 monthly for premium version
  • Time to completion: 15 hours

4. Mobile Interaction Design - Coursera

Mobile Interaction Design: How to Design Usable Mobile Products and Services is taught by the Higher School of Economics, a research school in Russia. It centers around the subject of design thinking and covers the place of interaction design in respect to modern product design.

Interaction design courses - Mobile Interaction Design on Coursera

Expect to gain a foundation in practical, industry-specific techniques such as qualitative user research methods to create a mobile first design, how to inspect an app or website for usability, as well as how to apply empirical usability evaluation methods. Best of all, you’ll also learn how to redesign an already-complete mobile app and later gain a certificate that you can display on your LinkedIn profile.

  • Suitable for: intermediate
  • Cost: enroll for free or $39 monthly for premium version
  • Time to completion: 39 hours

5. Input and Interaction - Coursera

Input and Interaction, offered up by University College San Diego promises that 60% of students who took it started a new career afterwards. They also boast that up to 50% received some kind of tangible career benefit and at least 20% got a pay increase or were promoted to a higher position.

The contents of this interaction design course explore what exactly is behind a user interface. It teaches you all of the practical, necessary elements of UI design for good usability and interaction, such as search and app navigation elements and gestural interfaces.

This interaction design course forms part of the wider interaction design specialization qualification, giving you a professional certificate to put on your resume or add to your linkedin profile.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: 7 day free trial, then Coursera Plus required ($33 per month)
  • Time to completion: 9 hours

6. Professional Certificate in Human Computer Interaction - edX

edX is another online learning platform that’s widely known by those who continuously like to challenge themselves and build on their knowledge base. Of their 2,500 courses taught by over 140 institutions worldwide, one that stood out for us was the Professional Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction by Georgia Tech.

Interaction design courses - Human Computer Interaction on edX

This course promises you expert instruction on the design principles of UX legends like Don Norman, Jakob Nielsen, Larry Constantine and Lucy Lockwood. On this interaction design course, expect to learn all the intricacies of the trade, such as situated action and distributed cognition. You’ll even explore broader concepts such as the impact UI design has on social change and about the design life cycle.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: try for free, then €399
  • Time to completion: 6 months

7. Interaction Design Software and Web Design Patterns - Lynda

Lynda, Linkedin’s online learning platform has an interaction design course that lets you specialize in Software and Web Design Patterns. If you have some design experience already and If you’re looking for hands on experience and creating interaction design patterns that help your users, then this course is definitely for you.

Interaction design courses - Software and Web Design Patterns on Lynda

You can expect to cover topics on this interaction design course such as creating an online help experience, table interactions, even toolbars and sliders. These are all elements that could be seen as important parts of a web and app interaction. You’ll also learn how to design various menu types and customizable actions. The best thing is that you can start watching these videos and practicing for free immediately!

  • Suitable for: intermediate
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 43 mins

8. Interaction Design: Structure - Lynda

This interaction design course about structure teaches you how to think about the foundation of any interaction design project. You’ll learn to think about how and where the different elements of web and app design fit into the overall experience and the general role structure plays in the quality of a user’s interaction with a website.

This interaction design course also teaches you how to define website and app-wide structure and see the “bigger picture” as a designer. It also introduces you to practical techniques such as making user flow diagrams and information architecture deliverables.

Interaction design courses - Structure on Lynda

The course will also explore how to inspect the information density in a UI design, as well as the best practices for iterating on multiple design layouts, setting up a grid system and creating navigation labels.

  • Suitable for: intermediates
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 40 mins
  • 9. Design Patterns as Building Bloc

9. Design Patterns as Building Blocks - Lynda

Interaction Design: Design Patterns as Building Blocks teaches how to design UIs so that they’re more consistent and usable, in addition to – and we like this – building them fast.

The fail-fast way is part of the Agile method and is a brilliant way of coming up with solutions quickly. Expect in this interaction design course to learn the foundations underpinning the fundamental elements of interaction such as buttons, sign up form design, links, progress indicators and more.

Interaction design courses - Design Patterns as Building Blocks on Lynda

This interaction design course is very practical, as it requires you to think on your own feet about the suitable design pattern for each task you complete. It also exposes you to real-world examples of how different companies apply relative interaction design patterns.

  • Suitable for: intermediates
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 1 hr 8 mins

10. Interaction Design Foundations - Lynda

Interaction Design Foundations starts from the basics and runs through all the common tools that interaction designers use on the job. You’ll also learn how to apply the most crucial aspects of interaction design: Visibility, consistency, learnability and predictability.

Interaction design courses - Foundations on Lynda

Another interesting aspect about this interaction design course is its focus on the psychological concepts relevant to interaction design, such as user motivation and perceptions. It then goes on to model navigational best practices and how they fit in with these psychological factors. It also explores how to use them to reduce cognitive overload and introduces you to Gestalt principles.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 3hrs 19 mins

11. Interaction Design for the Web - Lynda

Interaction Design for the Web is focused on the user’s behavior and the reasons behind their actions. This interaction design course will teach you how to design a UI layout according to how your users think and will take you through the machinations of the typical user brain.

Interaction design courses - Interaction Design for the Web on Lynda

You’ll also enjoy a solid grounding in interaction design techniques such storytelling, how to turn annoying error messages into useful dialogs and how to design for user delight.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 1hr 44 mins

12. Applied Interaction Design - Lynda

Applied Interaction Design is all about enriching the user experience, as well as taking a fervently business-focused approach to designing usable products for your users. This interaction design course is very practical and you can immediately apply the contents to real life situations.

To design a usable product for your users, they look at websites from all the various angles that this metric can be influenced by, such as homepages, categories, the site’s content right up to the shopping cart and common user scenarios.

Interaction design courses - Applied Interaction Design on Lynda

This interaction design course will also teach you how to gather feedback from your users and potential customers. Then you’ll get into the interaction part and learn all about infinite scrolling, collapsible modules, dynamic content and you’ll even compare an original site with a version that has enhanced usability.

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 1 hr 49 mins

13. Audio Design for Interactive Projects - Lynda

This interaction design course got our attention due to its unique content: Audio Design for Interactive Projects. This specialized interaction design course looks at interaction from a different angle that most of us tend to forget about: audio.

As the name suggests, it’s an interaction design course that looks at the important role that audio plays in boosting the intuitiveness of a UI and arms you with practical approaches to design web UI sounds. You’ll also learn how to work with digital audio workstations and professional audio tools, as well as how to create an audio mood board websites.

Interaction design courses - Audio Design on Lynda

Some important themes covered in terms of usability are how to use sound to inform and teach users, and how to strategically layer different sounds in a UI.

  • Suitable for: intermediates
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 1 hr 36 mins

14. UX Foundations: Interaction Design - Lynda

This interaction design course covers all the key psychological concepts behind a user’s actions. UX Foundations: Interaction Design teaches you about the thoughts running through a user’s mind as they navigate your product:

Interaction design courses - UX Foundations on Lynda

With this interaction design course you’ll come to understand how to design considerate and engaging products that boost UX through incorporating practices such as Design Thinking and applying design patterns. The course will also touch on emotion theory and how it leads to user delight.

  • Suitable for: intermediates
  • Cost: one month free, then $25 monthly
  • Time to completion: 3 hrs 33 mins

15. Master the Art of Usability with Interaction Design - DesignLab

DesignLab is an online learning platform for designers that started back in 2012. It was founded on the idea that with continuous feedback and iteration, design skills can be honed, sharpened and improved. We like that theory, because it’s also the approach taken by interaction designers throughout the design life cycle.

Master The Art of Usability with Interaction Design great for beginners, yet covers some of the most important topics you need to know to get started in interaction design. These topics include an introduction to sketching and information architecture, along with creating user flows and applying design patterns.

Interaction design courses - Master the Art of Usability on DesignLab

To top it off, you’ll be able to wet your fingers with practical, hands-on projects such as designing your own user flows for an interaction design project!

  • Suitable for: beginners
  • Cost: $399
  • Time to completion: 4 weeks

Final thoughts

If you’re thinking of learning more about interaction design, we here at Justinmind would definitely encourage you. Even if your intention is not to actually become an interaction designer, there are so many roles that these courses could benefit, especially if you work as part of a product team.

And if you do intend on becoming an interaction designer, there’s no better time to do it as they are increasingly in hotter demand these days and that only looks set to increase in the future.

Of course, while most of the courses on this list are for beginners, the right course for you will depend on what level of experience you already have with design, as well as the type of products you work with or are considering working with. If you’re looking to take your interaction design to the next level, then why not check out some of these great value design school programs for UX and Interaction Design?

Joseph Downs
In-house UX copy-slinger, foodie and classic motoring enthusiast