Companies around the world have a hard time finding qualified UI and UX designers. To make matters worse, demand for UX professionals grows each and every year. In the US, novice UI and UX designers have an average yearly salary of $74,953, and experienced UI and UX designers can earn up to $107,086 (2018 Glassdoor Salaries Report). It’s no wonder people want to pursue a career in UX, especially if money is a key motivator behind job choice!
If you are one of these people who wants to kick-start a career in UX, the reviews in this article will help you choose between the various online course platforms around to teach you in-demand UX skills. The comparisons made will even help if you are currently considering how to make a career change into the world of design, or just simply wish to upgrade your existing skills. Prices for courses vary from free to a whopping $6,649, but then again, that high price tag comes with a job guarantee.
I’m a co-founder of The Interaction Design Foundation, and of course, I wouldn’t leave our course platform out of such a list. Dive into this compilation of course platform reviews and, by the end, you’ll have a better idea of where you can (and want to!) learn the skills needed to become an awesome UI or UX designer. (Please bear in mind, the reviews are listed in no particular order.)
CareerFoundry is one of the few non-US learning platforms for UI and UX. Founded in 2013 and based in Berlin, they provide online tech education through self-paced, mentored programs in web development, UX design and UI design. As a student, you can take their courses with the help of expert mentors and tutors, and use a personalized and project-based curriculum relevant to the requirements in the industry.
It will take you anywhere between 4 and 12 months to finish a course, depending on the topic. The 3 courses that will probably make the biggest impact on your career are the most comprehensive and therefore expensive, while the remaining 4 are cheaper and mostly used to broaden your skill set.
Upon completion of a course, you will be issued with a certificate you can use on your resume, LinkedIn profile and within job interviews. Besides the certificate, a tech career specialist will help you with your resume, give you placement guidance and help you prepare for interviews. In fact, CareerFoundry goes as far as to provide students with a job guarantee, meaning you get a full refund if you are not employed within six months of earning your certificate. Alumni of their UX Designer course have landed jobs at tech companies such as Google, PayPal, Netflix, BBC and Amazon.
With regard to the job guarantee, it’s important to note there are many conditions you have to meet before you become eligible. These stipulate you:
- Live in a metropolitan area in a set of particular countries
- Apply to a minimum of 5 jobs per week
- Can accept both remote and non-remote positions
- Check in every other week with a career specialist
- Respond to messages from the career specialist within 72 hours
- Follow advice given by the career specialist
- Opt in to CareerFoundry emails
- Showcase your portfolio projects on Github, Behance and Dribble
Unfortunately, CareerFoundry does not inform potential students of these requirements when they mention the job guarantee on their website. They are only stated in the terms and conditions, which most people don’t read — so make sure to read the small print if you decide this is your course platform of choice!
“CareerFoundry was the perfect balance of hands-on experience, individual mentorship, and self-paced learning.”
— Joel Bergstein, Manager at Apple
We at The Interaction Design Foundation are an independent nonprofit initiative with an objective that sounds like a paradox: To raise the level of global design education, while at the same time reduce costs to as low as possible.
As a member, you can learn from 29 beginner to advanced courses that cover the entire spectrum of UX design — from mobile UX design and usability, to UX management and accessibility. We even have a course on how to become a UX designer from scratch! All courses feature in-depth, high-quality content taught by leading industry experts and top academics, and the courses are graded by real-life humans too. We deliver this content through both text- and video-based material and our courses also include “Build Your Portfolio” exercises which take you through a practical project so you can use what you’ve learned to create case studies for your portfolio. This will come in super handy when you try to get your next job in the field!
Since the Interaction Design Foundation is the oldest (we were founded in 2002) and most specialized learning platform in the business, our course certificates are authoritative, recognized and trusted within the UX industry. We also promote learning paths to help you earn the certificates most relevant to your career goals — for example, you can follow the User Researcher, Usability Expert or Product Manager path, just to name a few.
What’s more, global companies take our courses — the likes of IBM, Adobe, Philips, SAP, Accenture and McAfee, for example. Likewise, universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London use our educational material to help them teach UX design.
You can get access to the full range of courses at the Interaction Design Foundation for somewhere between $96-$156. There is no option to pay for single courses, but this is a pretty modest fee considering what you get access to, and there is a 30-day money back guarantee!
“I am recommending membership for IDF to everyone in this space — and everyone buys in because it’s so incredibly industry relevant.”
— Dereck du Toit, South Africa
Coursera gives you access to more than 3,500 online courses across multiple fields. They have partnered with top universities and organizations all over the world, including US universities such as Stanford, Princeton and Yale, as well as international institutions such as the University of London and University of Zurich.
The main thing to note is Coursera is not specialized in UX. Their course certificates are therefore not recognized within the UX industry, however they do offer three types of educational products:
Their courses are devised and taught by instructors from some of the world’s best universities and schools. Courses contain videos of lectures, text, quizzes, projects, peer-reviewed assignments and discussion forums. When you finish each one, you’ll earn official recognition for your work in the form of a sharable electronic course certificate. Prices range from $29 to $99 per course.
Specializations are made up of multiple courses within the same subject. If you need to master a specific skill, you can join a specialization and give yourself the chance to earn a specialization certificate to share on social media and present to potential employers. Prices range from $39 to $79 per month per specialization.
If you want to wholly commit to a new career or shake up your existing one, Coursera gives you the opportunity to earn an online degree. For example, you can earn an accredited master’s degree over a time span of 1 to 3 years from the comfort of your own home. Prices range from $15,000 to $25,000 per degree.
“Very good service, lots of courses to choose from, some are even free so you can find something even without spending money which is really good when looking for new job.”
— Jason B. (found on SiteJabber)
LinkedIn bought Lynda.com (which was one of the premier online course platforms) in 2015. The following year, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Learning with content originally from Lynda.com. Today, LinkedIn Learning has a huge library of 8,600 online courses that grows by the day. Of these, 167 are UX-related.
LinkedIn Learning has divided their extensive educational material into two main groups:
As the name suggests, these are standalone online courses which cover one or more subjects and are made up of text, videos and practical exercises. You will receive a certificate as you complete each course to share on your LinkedIn profile and show off your newly acquired knowledge to colleagues and prospective employers.
Instead of looking for random courses in the field of your choice, you can browse through the available learning paths offered on the platform and get a more structured learning experience. Learning paths are made up of related video courses within a specific field. For example, if you choose the “User Experience” learning path, you will get a list of 7 routes you can potentially follow — each one between 4 to 12 hours long.
Udemy boasts of a humongous 100,000-course library, which leaves other online course platforms behind in a cloud of dust when it comes to sheer choice. This number is made possible because Udemy allows instructors to create courses based on the fields they claim to be experts in. Once courses are created, instructors can launch them and charge a fee from students. As opposed to many other course platforms, Udemy doesn’t list courses created by universities and educational institutions.
Since almost anyone can create and publish courses through the Udemy platform, the quality of the courses ranges from poor to world-class. Make sure you read the course reviews before you enlist and be sure to watch the course preview video so you know what to expect.
As opposed to the UX-specific learning platforms covered in this article, Udemy covers a wide range of fields. This has repercussions for the course certificates earned through the completion of their UX courses. A Udemy course certificate on your resume or LinkedIn profile will unfortunately not carry much weight within the UX industry.
“Good UX basic principles, great way to start learning and I appreciate all the tools and tips given in the course.”
— Sandrine Beauchemin
Even though Treehouse is primarily used to learn coding skills, they also offer a UX Design Techdegree which consists of 19 UX Design courses and can be completed in as little as 3 months (that is the fastest option, since you can only submit one project per week). This Techdegree is a structured, online learning program that prepares students for a career in the tech industry. In this Techdegree, you can:
- Take online courses — there’s no need to show up to a physical class
- Determine your own deadlines and due dates
- Pause or cancel courses whenever you want, to make them fit into your schedule
- Build projects that can be used in the real world
- Carry out code reviews
- Create a career-ready portfolio
- Become part of an exclusive community on Slack
- Make use of their live support
- Be taught by full-time teachers and visiting industry experts
- Utilize guided learning paths
- Do peer reviews with fellow students
- Learn professional, technical and soft skills
- Take quizzes and code challenges as part of your courses
- Earn a certificate to help you land your next job
A vital point to note is the certificate you earn when you complete their UX Design Techdegree is not nearly as authoritative and recognized as some of the certificates from the specialized UX/UI learning platforms mentioned in this article.
Check out the comparison table at the end of the article if you want to compare Treehouse with the other learning platforms being evaluated.
“Loving the courses and I am learning a lot!”
— Jess (found on TrustPilot)
Pluralsight is a technology learning platform used by 70% of Fortune 500 companies. They offer access to more than 6,000 online courses in areas such as software, creative design, IT and business. Their industry experts have created video-based courses to help students learn new skills and upgrade their existing skills from the comfort of their own home.
Pluralsight also offers its students learning paths to help navigate through their huge selection of courses. These paths combine courses and tools to create one experience which makes it much easier for students to know which courses to pursue, and in which order, to get an optimal learning experience. Paths are organized in three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Since Pluralsight courses cover many topics, their certificates are not as recognized within the UX/UI industry. Pluralsight offers two types of memberships:
Personal plan ($299 per year):
- Entire course library of 6,000+ courses
- Learning paths to help take the right courses
- Skill IQ and Role IQ to compare your skills with other students’
- Earn course completion certificates
- Access to course discussion forums
- Downloadable exercise files
- Offline viewing of training material
Premium plan ($449 per year):
- All the features from the personal plan
- Certification practice exams
- Interactive courses
With more than 27,000 online classes, Skillshare is one of the largest educational platforms in the world.
Each of their courses is made up of an instructional video which typically ranges from 45 minutes to an hour, plus assignments, a class community and class projects to provide a rich learning experience. In contrast to many of the other learning platforms reviewed in this article, Skillshare does not provide any certificates or proof of completion, which makes it difficult to highlight your newly acquired skills on your resume or at a job interview.
Another drawback worth mentioning is there is no instructor-led training, which means students and instructors do not communicate directly through the platform. So, don’t expect to get direct feedback from instructors if you want questions answered or projects graded!
Almost anyone can create a class and publish it on the platform. This means you can expect to find a broad range of classes with varying qualities ranging from world-class to amateur level. Be sure to read reviews of the classes you intend to take before you pay to use the platform.
The comparison table at the bottom gives you a quick overview of the learning platforms being examined, and lets you see how Skillshare in particular holds up compared to the alternatives.
“I truly feel like this was one of the best investments in myself as a continual learner. I love the variety of classes for just about anything I want to learn without being confined to just one area of study. It’s an amazing resource and I have had positive things to say about every teacher I’ve learned from, most recently digital drawing. The information has been usable and valuable.”
— Angie Fraley (found on TrustPilot)
Springboard offers a mix of single courses and career tracks within the fields of data science, marketing, design, cyber security and analytics. Courses consist of articles, videos, projects, case studies, online code practice and weekly mentor calls.
Although design is one of five areas covered, Springboard is not specialized in UX. This means their certificates do not carry the same weight in the UX field as they do in the more technical fields.
Here is how it works:
- You enroll in a course; courses start each month.
- You provide details regarding your availability and the skills you want to learn. Springboard will use this information to match you with a mentor.
- You learn from learning materials created by industry experts. Materials are regularly updated to reflect new technologies and trends.
- You apply your knowledge through real-world case studies, project-based assignments and problem sets.
- Weekly calls with your mentor provide you with project feedback, career planning, job search advice and interview tips.
- You and your mentor will make sure you stay on track with your learning as you set and review weekly goals.
- You apply the skills you have learned in a final course project and present this to your mentor.
- You upgrade your resume and LinkedIn profile with your certificate of completion.
“Springboard made me a better designer. I was self-taught before this. I finally feel like I have UX experience.”
— Edna, UX designer at Unosquare
Based in Dublin, UXtraining.com is a pure-play UX learning platform. They offer classroom, online or in-house training, and each of which covers the entire spectrum from self-paced online learning to a physical classroom experience.
The focus of this article is online courses, so we’ll focus on their “Professional Diploma in UX Design” course. According to them, this is the world’s only university-accredited online UX course — created in cooperation with the Glasgow Caledonian University and the UX Design Institute.
As you complete this course on UXtraining.com, you’ll learn about UX principles, user research, analysis frameworks and interaction design. Learning takes place online through video- and text-based materials, alongside practical exercises you can complete in your own time and at your own pace. To help you along, there are world-class mentors available to assist you through monthly webinars, and you can also avail yourself of fellow students and a student success team to make sure you stay on schedule and complete the course.
To ensure the diploma you earn meets the standards within the UX industry, companies such as Slack, Dell, Mastercard and SAP are on their Industry Advisory Council.
Students who have completed this course have found employment at some of the world’s largest tech companies, such as Accenture, Intel, Salesforce, Booking.com and Mastercard.
“This online UX course has been absolutely worth every minute of my time and money spent! I’ve done a few online courses and I can honestly say this has been the best by far.”
— Angelique Alexander
Comparison of the learning platforms