UX Basics: Great Online Resources
UX encompasses many disciplines and specialities, and it can seem overwhelming to figure out where to get started and learn the basics. UX education is also something that is in flux and evolving. Some specialised courses are emerging, and UX is increasingly becoming a key component of many digital media, web design and development educations.
As a discipline, UX is also largely unregulated – there are few official designations. UX designers come from many backgrounds, including industrial and graphic design, computer science and programming, and psychology.
For those who are looking to think like a UXer and bring some user experience considerations into their work, there are plenty of excellent online resources to get started with. If you are reading this, you may already know that the Adobe blog regularly publishes articles of a wide range, and is a great resource.
Here is a rundown of some other great places to start.
UX Crash Course: Fundamentals from Joel Marsh is an excellent, low-effort place to get your feet wet. Reading one of these bite sized chunks per day for 31 days will cover the basics. This crash course also gives a taste of the depth and breadth of UX themes. Get a taste of topics like understanding users, information architecture, visual design, functional layout design, psychology and designing with data.
Time commitment to complete: Low.
Great for: Getting a taste of a broad range of UX topics.
Move on if: You need deeper learning or want to move beyond the basics.
Aquent/Vitamin T offers UX fundamentals – learning to design for your users which is a great introduction to the world of UX. This course starts with the basics, explaining the crucial ‘you are not your user” perspective that defines user experience as a practice. It covers the basics of understanding and researching users and their behaviour, as well as some foundational aspects of wireframing and content.
Time commitment to complete: Medium.
Great for: A solid grounding in the very basics.
Move on if: You already understand basic UX tools and principles.
Cost: Requires sign up for a free Vitamin T account.
Stanford HCI course on Coursera is a comprehensive look at design from a human-computer interaction perspective. Human computer interaction is computer science’s design and UX offshoot. This course is very comprehensive and covers a range of topics including prototyping, heuristic evaluation, visual design and running experiments. The course material is available for free, or you can pay to take a specialisation course, complete projects and get a diploma. A word of caution: diplomas like this may or may not bear weight in industry. Right now most of what counts is experience. However, certifications won’t hurt.
Time commitment to complete: High.
Great for: Expanding your UX perspective to a computer science driven one.
Move on if: You are looking for a more purely design based approach.
Cost: View materials online for free. Specialization certification pricing.
Lynda.com offers Foundations of UX: Multi Device Design. This course gives a robust introduction for the considerations of designing for multiple screen sizes. Planning, content strategy and designing for touch are all covered. The material looks at both platform native and responsive design, and is a good way to get familiar with the pros and cons of each.
Time commitment to complete: Medium.
Great for: Understanding the considerations of designing for multiple screen sizes.
Move on if: You need a specifically responsive design-focused approach.
Cost: Requires lynda.com account. 10 day free trial available. From $19.99 per month.
As you can see, there are lots of opportunities to engage with great online material created by experts, and plenty of ways to engage in self-teaching UX. As with most things, the greatest learning will come from experience and applying what you learn throughout your work. Be sure to pair your learning with active practise, be it self-directed passion projects or client work!