User experience (UX) design is fundamental to digital design, and an increasingly sought after skill to have amongst designers, alongside coding and development.
Even if you don't want to be a web developer whizz, the relationship between designer and developer is moving closer and closer together. It's important that as a designer you understand what's possible with UX design, what works well and what's best. And creative directors are looking for employers who can offer more than one skill in a digital-first society – so if you're a graphic designer, why not add UX design to your skillset?
Websites, design and technology may be getting increasingly complex in the back-end (yet increasingly minimalist on screen), but one thing remains simple – how the user feels is always key. We've rounded up the best paid and free UX design courses, including learning UX online and course available through universities.
Soon you should be up-to-date on wireframes, user testing, storyboards and more – whether you want to forge a career in UX design or simply add it to your list of skills as part of a creative team.
UX design is all about improving the user experience through creating easy-to-use products that are a pleasure to use. This means finding out how exactly the user interacts with your product, whether they enjoy doing so, and then adjusting your design to suit them - instead of going with whatever you think looks awesome.
Of course, user experience design is not one-fits-all - what works for one person might not work for the next. But learning about UX helps you tailor your design to your project’s aims, and to encourage certain behaviours and experiences in your users.
For more on perfecting your UX practice, learn how to use UX design tools Sketch and Adobe XD, and free collaboration software Wake. For some thought crunching, read our guidelines on how to design websites for people with disabilities in 2017.
Paid online UX courses
School of UX Design caters for students, start-ups, developers and designers. UX and UI design tutorials are available both in London and online.
Courses are run by professional UX Designers with more than 10 years experience designing for Microsoft, British Gas, Universal Music Group and Heathrow Airport.
They include UX Design: How to do it Right, How to start a career in UX Design and Designing Pixel-Perfect UI which run throughout November and December. If you can’t attend the weekend classes in person, all courses are video recorded.
Tickets for the courses in London range from £29 (if you’re a student) to £89 (regular price). Video recording’s online will cost you £39.
Lynda.com is an ever-popular website for learning skills across business, software, technology and the creative industries. Subscription packages start at £12.95/month, meaning you can dip into different courses without spending more money – and there’s more than enough content to keep you occupied with 58 UX design courses and 2,380 videos.
Our favourites include UX Foundations: Content Strategy – which may have dull-looking slides, but it is concise, informative and will give you plenty of handy tips to separate your web content from the rest – as well as courses more suitable for beginners, such as UX Design Techniques: Overview and Interaction Design Fundamentals.
Lynda.com works with a pay-by-course format.
Udemy is the pay-per-course site you’ve most probably heard of. It has over 40,000 courses – and doesn’t let itself down when it comes to UX design with plenty of paid options (and some free ones too - such as Introduction to Web and eCommerce User eXperience Design).
David Travis’ User Experience (UX): The Ultimate Guide to Usability and UX is a popular, well-reviewed introduction to UX design that includes hands-on experience, and is a good place for anyone to start.
As a behavioural psychologist, Susan Weinschenk has some useful tips on how to really grab someone’s attention with her courses UX Design: Secrets of Conceptual Model Design, which goes beyond the typical UX teachings of wireframes and prototypes, and User Research: Personas, Scenarios, Tasks Analyses.
Treehouse is an online learning platform specifically tailored to technology, with subscriptions starting at around £20/US$26 per month. It offers a 128-minute interactive UX Basics course, which comprehensively introduces you to the need-to-know of UX, though does not cover any how-to on tools such as prototypes and wireframes. But it is well received and certainly worth checking out – unsurprisingly given it is by UX consultant Liz Hubert.
At around £15/US$20 per month, TutsPlus is similar in price to Treehouse, though it does have a smaller selection of courses for it – around 1,000 across all its learning material.
As well as its series of courses on the foundations of UX, its high-quality Fundamentals of UX Design course has a slightly larger scope than Treehouse’s UX Basics course, with more practical information such as how to use wireframes. It is spread over 16 two-hour lessons.
Pluralsight offers over 4500 courses – and plenty of them in UX design. For around £21/$29 per month, you can access courses on the fundamentals of UX such as Creating User Experiences: UX Design Principles, which is a great entry point to UX for developers. Billy Hollis, an international speaker in UX design, runs the course and ensures it is interactive with exercises you can complete during each module.
As Pluralsight courses tend to lean towards more intermediate or advanced material, its UX courses are unlikely to be as suitable for complete beginners.
A learning and knowledge-sharing community for creators, Skillshare allows you to both teach and be taught. You can enrol in online classes, create projects to show off your work, discuss work with your classmates, and earn money from flipping the roles and sharing your expertise as a teacher.
With Skillshare, as pretty much anyone can teach, the teachers and courses can be hit-and-miss. But, if you do your research (like we have), you can find the gems, which are cheap when bearing competitors’ pricing in mind. You can check out the Skillshre UX Design courses.
Editor-in-Chief OF Smashing Magazine Vitaly Friedman’s Smart Responsive UX Design Patterns: Clever Tips, Tricks and Techniques stands out – unsurprisingly given Smashing Magazine were partly responsible for Smashing UX Design, a book that gives a brilliant overview of UX. Vitaly’s Skillshare course includes great tips on how to make you UX design skills top of the class.
MOOCs (massively open online courses)
Coursera makes courses from top universities accessible to pretty much anyone. And it hosts a tonne of UX courses - a popular one being Learn how to design great user experiences, which is a bundle of part-time eight courses at £26 each or £187 together.
These courses are a brilliant overview a wide range of UX aspects, and include quizzes and assignments to keep you engaged, as well as great teachers. Bear in mind these have specific start dates, so check when they next start.
Unlike other courses, deadlines are fixed - so you can’t do this at your own pace. Depending how much you have on, this could either motivating or overwhelming. These are resource-rich, tough courses that - if you complete - you will gain a lot from.
Another great online massive course is from DesignLab. Its Interaction Design jumps over a block most online courses stumble at: weekly mentor sessions to keep you on track and motivated, as well give you a chance to ask your bursting questions. Though this does up the price – to around £300/US$399 for 4 weeks -, it is a great alternative to offline classes, if there are none near you.
What’s great about this course is that there is a steady increase in complexity, so your learning curve is steep, and an opportunity to apply those skills by developing a portfolio during the course. It sells itself to absolute beginners, but some prior knowledge of UX might be useful, as its content gets exponentially tougher.
Don't be scared off by the dull name; this treasure trove of tips is from some of the most interesting (and qualified) people in design. Within the massive manual, there are plenty of guides aimed solely at the user - from 'User needs' to 'User satisfaction'. Whatever your UX experience, you'll have plenty of reading material here.
For a fee-per-course, you can access some of the world's smartest brands and minds to learn about a range of subjects, including behaviour. 42courses – an online education platform that, through almost any device, offers short courses that award a date and signed certificate at the end. It's first ever course is Behavioural Economics (£70) from world-leading behavioural communication expert Rory Sutherland, who will give you behaviour insights to improve UX. But there's also Thomas Cornwall's Service Design (£80) Keep an eye out for further courses as the site grows.
Free online UX courses
Excitingly, the same human-computer interaction expert Scott Klemmer from Coursera's paid UX course (above) offers a free 9-week course through Stanford called - yes, you guessed it - Human-Computer Interaction. It may not look quite as sleek as the paid course but, well, it is free. And it offers brilliant video lectures, though none of the assignments or quizzes, unlike the paid version (understandably so, we think).
Springboard offers a free, self-paced course called User Experience Design that gives a general overview of UX. It collects free content across the web and organises it into an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand walkthrough. There is over 131 hours of content, as well as projects to complete, recommended reading and videos.
A year’s worth of weekly lessons isn’t a bad way to learn about UX – not particularly time-consuming, plenty of content and it can be delivered straight to your inbox. 52 weeks of UX was created by Rocket Insights co-founder Joshua Porter and Habitat Founder and CEO Joshua Brewer - the founders certainly crammed the Tumblr blog with useful information.
As it is not strictly a course, it can probably be forgiven for a lack of interactivity, and celebrated for how easy it is to use, demanding no commitment other than reading an email a week. Oh, and you can appreciate how pretty and clean the site itself it – pretty important for a Tumblr claiming authority on UX design.
Although it is another not-strictly-a-course course, The Hipper Element crash lessons are also an easy, neat way to learn about UX design. Joel Marsh, who wrote UX for Beginners, takes his readers through a month’s worth of daily lessons in UX in this very popular blog.
Offline UX courses
UX Academy is an 8-week, in-person course taught by four UX experts, including Mobile UX London, where you can learn about the fundamentals of UX and UCD. You get the benefits of a small class of only 12 people, and anyone from junior UX designers to visual designers can get involved. Learn everything from prototyping to wireframes and user testing.
The course price is £850, and the next course starts in February 2018.
Chelsea College of Arts' User Experience (UX) Design course makes the most of the face-to-face element by balancing theory with the practical skills of designing for web and mobile. In fact, over three days (£565), you will apply what you've learnt to create an app. Yes, that's an app in less than a week. Is there a better way to prove that you're improving your UX skills?
If you’re someone who prefers face-to-face learning where you can interact, chat to others and ask questions, there might be a great UX course not far from you. General Assembly offers courses across data, design, business and technology – to which UX design is an essential component, and served well by the education platform's content.
User Experience Design Immersive is an 10-week course that might be more appropriate for those looking to forge a career in UX design – as it is very expensive, at £9,000 in London for example. But, for some, it’s worth the money: it builds your profile, allows you to learn from top UX practitioners such as Ashley Karr and get a UX job (or, at least, that’s the idea).
General Assembly has campuses across 4 continents – so there’s a high chance there’ll be a class near you.