User experience (UX) is fundamental to good design work. Websites, design and technology may be getting increasingly complex, but one thing remains simple – that how the user feels is always key. We've rounded up the best paid and free UX design courses, including learning UX online.
It can be tricky to know where to start if you want to learn about UX. From paid and free online courses to day courses, we’ve scoured UX learning resources across the web to find the best way for you to master UX design skills – which is not just the buzzword of the moment, but surely here to stick around.
So, soon you’ll 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.
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.
Paid online UX courses: Lynda.com
Lynda.com is an ever-popular website for learning skills across business, software, technology and the creative industries. Subscription packages start at £14.95/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 1,420 videos.
Our favourites include Foundations of UX: 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.
Paid online UX courses: Udemy
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.
Paid online UX courses: Treehouse
Treehouse is an online learning platform specifically tailored to technology, with subscriptions starting at around £17.50/$25 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.
Paid online UX courses: TutsPlus
At around £10.50/$15 per month, TutsPlus is a cheaper tech-focused subscription option, though it does have a smaller selection of courses for it – around 740 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 2-hour lessons.
Paid online UX courses: Pluralsight.com
Pluralsight offers over 4500 courses – and plenty of them in UX design. For around £17.50/$24.92 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.
Paid online UX courses: Skillshare
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.
Paid online UX courses: 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 8 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 such as Scott Klemmer. 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.
Image: Scott Klemmer, Stanford
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 £209/$299 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.
Free online UX courses: Government Service Design Manual
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, and winners of Design of the Year 2013. 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.
Free online UX courses: 42courses.com
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 – a new online education platform that, through almost any device, offers short courses that award a date and signed certificate at the end – has already made its first course live: Behavioural Economics from world-leading behavioural communication expert Rory Sutherland, who will give you behaviour insights to improve UX. Keep an eye out for further courses as the site grows.
Free online UX courses: MOOCs
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).
Free online UX courses: Springboard
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.
Free online UX courses: blogs
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: Chelsea College of Arts
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 4 days (£599) or 5 evenings (£425), 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?
Offline UX courses: General Assembly
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 £7500. 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.