Online UX courses can kickstart your user experience career or take you up to the next level. Check out these 10 free and paid online UX courses and get studying!
20 years ago, no one except Don Norman had heard of User Experience. These days, not only has everyone heard about it, but sometimes it feels like everyone and their mom is a UX Designer. But, as most established User Experience professionals will tell you with a sigh, getting into UX is far from easy and requires time, effort, expertise and investment. Even if your agenda doesn’t allow for a return to full-time study, enrolling in an online UX course can give your user experience career the kickstart it needs. And it doesn’t even have to cost the earth. We’ve rounded up the 10 best free and paid online UX course providers right now.
Interaction Design Foundation
There’s a lot of buzz around the Interaction Design Foundation‘s courses and resources – even Don Norman describes the Scandinavian-based outfit as “a goldmine of information on interaction design”, which is a pretty good recommendation. And the numbers are just as compelling: over 1000 universities use IDF resources and almost 140 companies are signed up to their learning materials.
So what do they do that attracts so many people? Variety and depth. IDF offers 34 UX courses, all online and self-paced, in a range of user experience based topics – from the classics like Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience: The Beginners Guide, to specialized offerings such as The Psychology of Online Sales, and User Research: Methods and Best Practices. All of the courses are instructor-led, feedback on work is given, and there’s a lively community of fellow learners to talk shop with.
Price point? IDF courses are “free to members”; IDF annual membership starts out at around $13 a month.
We’ve read good things about the Fundamentals of UX Design online course from TutsPlus. The 16 part, 2 hour course sees Adzerk’s UX Engineer Sarah Kahn cover the what, how and why of user experience in a series of videos. Topics covered include the Anatomy of a Webpage, Identifying User Problems and Using Wireframing. This course is (obviously) for beginners rather than those looking to hone their existing UX skills; if you’re not sure this is the course for you then check out the first two video classes, which are available free online.
Price point? Monthly membership from $15 gets you access to over 900 online courses, including Fundamentals of UX Design.
Career Foundry claims to be able to take you from UX zero to hero in 3 months, with courses that convert you “from beginner to working professional”. They even offer you a 100% refund if you don’t get a job you love within 6 months of graduation. With that kind of safety net it’s definitely worth checking out their course offerings – pick from Web Developer, UI Designer, UX Designer or iOS Developer. The UX course provides you with access to both a tutor and a mentor, who help you work through 60+ practical challenges and teach vital skills in prototyping, user testing and design. At the end of the course you’ll have designed and tested a complete web app, and have an interview-ready portfolio to show to potential employers.
Price point? 1 course of 6 months comes home at $2499
HackDesign is one of the best online resources for budding UXers. Billing itself as an “easy to follow design course for people who do amazing things”, HackDesign’s course is basically made up of the best existing resources out there on the web, organized systematically to direct your learning. HackDesign delivers weekly lessons to your inbox, with input from some of the biggest names in UX and interaction design – think the likes of Nir Eyal, Luke Beard and Grace Ng.
Lessons are engaging and unexpected, with interactive content allowing you to test your learning and explore possibilities. The first week’s content delivery sees you watching design documentary Objectified, which aims to “get you amped up on the potential product design has to make a positive impact on people’s lives.” Following weeks include resources on the user interface, interaction design and product design.
Price point? And the best part? It’s totally free.
Treehouse is a tech geek’s dream come true. Focused on “the democratization of technical education”, the learning platform provides over 200 courses in everything related to web development and software design. Their UX Basics course is based around over 2 hours of video classes, with exercises and quizzes to consolidate learning. This is definitely an introduction to the basic tenets of UX, so doesn’t cover topics like prototyping, but it’s a good start.
Price point? Starting from $25 per month for a Basic Plan, up to $199 to go Pro
Less a traditional course provider and more a community for mutual learning, Skillshare allows you to be both teacher and student. Platform members attend online classes, create online portfolios of their work, take part in discussions and debates, and can even earn cash by stepping into the teacher role. Classes cover subjects such as HTML, web development, prototyping and, of course, UX Design: you can choose to specialize in User Interface Design, Moving from Graphic to UX Designer, or other career-focused short courses. The courses range from 1 to 12 hours in length and are delivered as friendly bite-size chunks, meaning even busy folks can fit in study time.
Price point? $12 a month or $8 for the annual membership.
Lynda is part of the LinkedIn brand, implying that its courses are aimed at professionalism and career development. The platform is also in its 20th year, which gives it a sheen of venerability often lacking (understandably) in the burgeoning world of virtual learning. The courses cover business, software, tech and creative skills, and are omnichannel ready – you can learn as easily from your TV as from your mobile. And what’s more, there are 70 UX courses to choose from! You can go deep into how to use specific tools such as prototyping tools, or follow courses such as User Strategy, Analyzing User Data or Persuasive UX.
Price point? Lynda comes in at $14 per month for the basic plan, and $24 for the more flexible Premium
The grandaddy of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), Coursera works with some of the world’s most renowned universities to bring their courses to the masses. Pretty much anything you want to study, Coursera has it, be it electrical engineering, Mandarin Chinese or Kierkegaard. Their UX related courses are solid, ranging from UI Design and Interaction Design to Information Architecture and Design Thinking. You’ll be learning from the guys at the top of industry, with the University of California San Diego, Princeton and Johns Hopkins all delivering classes on Coursera. The video modules are supplemented with online exercises, to make sure you’re paying attention.
Price point? At the moment all courses are free, with the option to pay to join the ‘Signature Track’ for extra benefits.
If you’re looking for a platform dedicated solely to UX and UI, then Designlab is your site. Expert mentors from sites such as Basecamp, Dropbox and Nike guide you through interactive projects and give you detailed feedback on work; you even get a weekly Skype session with your mentor to talk about your progress. You can choose from two tracks – UX Research and Strategy, or Interaction Design – and a Prototyping and Testing track will be coming soon. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be expected to create professional standard deliverables and to get your hands dirty on projects.
Price point? Expect to spend around $300 per 4 week course
Udemy is like a hive-mind of all things tech and professional development: instead of culling courses from established universities, the platform allows experts to create and offer their own courses, either for free or paid. Of course, this model means that you have to be careful which course you plump for, but reactions from Forbes, Mashable and Fast Company have been positive. Udemy’s UX courses provide arching overviews of user experience, intended to set you up for a professional start in the industry.
Price point? Pay per course, from $19 and skywards