For a few years, I was a little lost in what I wanted to do for a career. I had never had a clear idea of a job I wanted. I did however, have a passion for:
- Building things
- Figuring out how things worked
- Helping people
I was good at coding and fell into Web Development after failing to make money from my Flash games on Kongregate.
I first learnt about Usability and then User Experience (UX) from reading online design publications such as Smashing Magazine. UX appealed to me due to my passions, curiosity and empathy.
I made a brief attempt to move into UX in 2015, although I look back now and realise that I was naive as to what that involved and that I did not know as much as I thought I did. However, I got sick and had to take a step back to focus on my health.
My Introduction to IDF
In 2018, I was healthier and stronger than I'd ever been, and I was looking to do a course on UX Design. After some research, I found out about The Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) and decided to join up.
IDF is a non-profit, intending to "...democratize learning by providing top-quality, online design courses at a fraction of the cost of traditional education."
While doing my first-course "User Experience: The Beginner's Guide" I very quickly realise that I should be working in UX. It was the first time I had so much clarity in my career. It just made sense.
From this moment, I started designing things around a move into UX. Doing IDF courses, attending meetups, watching videos, reading articles and just absorbing as much information as I could. I also applied my new skills and knowledge to existing projects and volunteered to use these skills to help a non-profit club.
What I’m Doing Now
I am currently freelancing and doing a combination of Design and Development, but actively looking for my first full-time gig in UX, which will allow me to focus all my energies into Design and working within a team. I am continuing to enjoy the journey.
Why I recommend IDF
It costs me $168 (AUD) a year, which is more expensive than doing a single course on Udemy or similar platforms, but IDF gives me access to almost 30 courses for that fee.
UX Specialisation and Trust
IDF only does courses relevant to Experience Design, and you can trust the courses to be run by experts, whereas anyone can submit a course on Udemy, and so the standards vary wildly.
Course assessment comprises of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. The multiple-choice are automatically graded, and the open-ended by manually teachers.
Since I joined IDF, they have made changes to improve the experience. My favourite is the ability to adjust the video speed to up to 2x, which is great for watching some of the slower speaking teachers or rewatching a video.
There is an active community with discussions, support and meetups, although how active the local city meetups are will vary from city to city.
There is not much hands-on Experience
They will teach you the theory behind doing UX design deliverables, such as research, personas and mockups. And there are optional tasks of doing these things and building your own Portfolio Projects. However the only feedback you can get is from peers. IDF says this that the hand-on area is one that they are currently trying to improve.
If you don't already work in a job where you can test and apply test skills, you will need to find some way to do that, or taking a Bootcamp style course might be a good option for you. I have not done a Bootcamp, but I know people who use IDF and done a Bootcamp, which has worked for them.
User Experience Issues
Ironically while doing the Interaction Design for Usability course, I ran into several usability issues around answering the multiple-choice questions. They do have an easy way to report problems and they do respond quickly, so hopefully they will continue to improve.
Should you Sign up?
Yes. IDF is a great way to learn about Experience Design, and with a range of courses, there is something for everyone. Even though there are a couple of negatives, they are minor compared to the advantages, especially when you consider the cost. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Feel free to ask me any questions