UX Courses Review — from a UX Manager
It is important that we keep learning and improving our skills as a design professional, and in my experience I have found that it is very important also to learn the skills and expertise of the people that you work closely with. As designers, we should have a basic understanding of how developers work, especially when we share our designs with them, in the same way it is important that we know how to work with business analysts, in how they collect and classify business requirements and then hand over to us. We can learn these skills through close collaboration on the projects we are on and this is the best way to learn, but education comes in many forms. So look online to taking some courses in order to speak more the language of those around you. It will help you be more informed on your role as a designer, but also it will also help you build empathy with the other professionals you work with.
As a UX manager, I have not been hands-on in designing for several years, as my role today is more about growing the design teams and the design services we offer our clients. So, in order for me to have a strong understanding of how designers work, how they think, the skills they need to have now and in the future I often need to think like a designer. I must understand the tools they work with now and potentially in the future, and also identifying where to best place talent in the right project and their role inside the project to maximise their output, but also to help them to grow as designers.
I have been doing some UX courses online and two years ago I came across the Interaction Design Forum, which I have loved taking. I have completed two courses with certificates, and another two are on-going. I have a short review of the two courses below. The learning experience has really helped me in my role as UX Manager and I really like the way the courses are presented with a mixture of prose, video and the exercises are a mix of multiple choice (some research) and open ended questions. They are not short courses which you complete over a couple of days, so the certificates people achieve, in my opinion, carry a lot of weight. In fact one of the courses, it took me almost a year to complete as I did it at my own pace.
I have completed 2 UX courses so far (User Research — Methods and Best Practices and UX Management: Strategy and Tactics) and I have found them both to be very useful for my role in the company. I lead design teams now and have been growing our company’s design offering for over 3 years , so the UX Management has given me a lot of extra knowledge and management tips to help me to grow the team and our design capabilities. I particularly like the sections around selling the ROI of UX to help clients understand the value of UX and how UX Maturity can help companies to change their mindset to be more user centric. I liked sharing some of my experience in my answers and in the forums discussions and also reading other course participants experiences.
The User Research course for me, was all about understanding the role of a user researcher more, so that I can recruit the right people with the right skills, but also to give me the knowledge I needed to speak with clients and to advise them on best practices to achieve the desired results through user research. I have done research projects in the past, but this really helped me to put structure to research projects, the reasoning for the structure, but mostly, I loved the helpful course material the course shared, to run projects from start to finish, such as how to carry out thematic analysis.
I recently complete another course on Accessibility, how to design for all, which is a mix of both design and front-end development (web design), which I think is great, because the two go hand in hand. We cannot design to AA standard, if it will not be developed in that way too. I found this one tougher as it was a little more technical, but I am nearly there! The biggest take away I have from this is that I am much more empathetic with those with disabilities.
The final course, which I am ‘slowly’ taking is Emotional Design, which is early on, but I like the topic and how it makes you think about why we love products and what draws us into making purchasing decisions on products.
There are plenty of courses on IDF and they can be broken up into your learning path as a designer, whether interaction or visual or like me as an executive. I have been using the Interaction Design Forum personally for over two years and also I encourage my design teams to use it as an excellent source of learning to improve their knowledge and skills.
So keep learning through doing and back it up with some courses to validate how and why we design the way we do and how we can become better versions of ourselves.