Online UX Courses for Almost Free


Online User Experience (UX) Courses and Literature Made by Experts for (almost) Free at Interaction Design Foundation

interaction-design-foundation-ux-courses-usefulusabilityOnline UX Design courses for (almost) free sounds too good to be true, right? Yet, that’s exactly what the Interaction Design Foundation provides. Based on the Danish system of free education to citizens, the co-founders of the Interaction Design Foundation (Mads Soegaard and Rikke Dam) have created an online learning community unlike anything else in the world. It contains dozens of UX courses for a very low fee, and lots of free content from top UX experts that many Universities around the globe use. Here’s why I think the Interaction Design Foundation is such a good resource for anyone seeking UX design education.

mads-soegaard-usefulusabilityBack in 2012 I conducted an interview with Mads Soegaard, a UX friend and co-founder of By happy circumstance we connected again recently. And I feel it appropriate to share with you what I consider to be one of best sources for UX instruction that many UX and interaction design fans may not be aware of. I asked Mads why he has devoted so much of his time and energy into the Interaction Design Foundation:

“I truly believe that great design can do wonders for humanity. However, the knowledge of how to create beautifully designed products has been reserved for the elite – traditionally in the Western intellectual hemisphere. We want to change that. And that’s why our mission sounds a bit like a paradox: to make top quality design education available to all, and at the same time to drive down the costs of receiving that education. If we drive down the cost and at the same time increase the accessibility of design education, then we believe the world will become a better place.”

Here in the United States I could easily purchase a very, very nice brand-new top of the line Mercedes for what it’s costing to put my daughter through University. But this model is not shared by the rest of the world. In Denmark for example, Mads and his fellow citizens all receive their education for free. And it is this free concept that Mads and his co-founder turned into a UX education platform. For only $13 a month, or a paltry $8 for students, you can access ivy-league like UX instruction plus join a group of over 15 million other readers across 85 countries.

SPECIAL NOTE: Because he’s a friend of mine, Mads has agreed to provide you, my loyal readers (Hi Mom!) with a very valuable 3 Months Off the normal subscription pricing above! What’s not to like about a SALE?Just use the links provided in this article when you sign up for one of the annual subscriptions.


UX Education Available Through Interaction Design Foundation:

interaction-design-foundation-homepage-usefulusabilityWhat kind of UX education is available through the Interaction Design Foundation? Courses include Interaction Design, UX Design, Psychology of user experience, usability, data visualization and many, many more.

“The courses are created by a team belonging to both the industry and academia, resulting in a mix of theory and practical knowledge. Our courses are not only peer-reviewed by academics, but also community-reviewed by thousands of students who constantly give us feedback. That means that all courses are both evidence-based, practically oriented and thoroughly tested.”

Speaking of quality, the executive committee responsible for the quality of the education includes industry luminaries like:

  • Don Norman, author of “Design of Everyday Things” and many other must-read UX books
  • Bill Buxton, Principal researcher at Microsoft
  • Irene Au, former head of UX and Design at Google
  • Olof Schybergson, CEO of UX design agency Fjord
  • And many more

UX Courses Available:

interaction-design-foundation-available-ux-coursesI found the amazing quantity and quality of available UX design courses to be almost overwhelming. The primary value membership in the Interaction Design Foundation provides is unlimited free access to over 34 top of the line, high quality courses in the UX design field.

Courses are self-paced so you can continue your day job while learning in your spare time. And after successfully completing your instruction you can receive industry-recognized certificates. I’ve looked at other online self-paced UX courses and the main turn-off for me was the lack of help from others in the student community, or even from the instructor.

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But with the Interaction Design Foundation you have access to a support community of other members, as well as with personal coaches (available with the IDF Design League subscription). Learning with and from hundreds of peers across the globe is one of the main advantages of the Interaction Design Foundation.

And I would be remiss if I left off the fact that the community learning aspect is encouraged. You might meet future friends, collaborators, and even employers on the forums.

Example UX Courses:

There are so many UX courses that it can take a fairly long time to scratch the surface of all the content and materials available. The courses combine both text and video-based lessons, and are full of case studies (for example-based learning), as well as interesting theory (for research-based learning).

A few notable courses that I thought were interesting include:

Psychology of Interaction Design – How psychology constraints and abilities of the human mind cause limitations and amazing capabilities and form the key to interaction design and a great user experience

Mobile User Experience (UX) Design – As the world increasingly turns to mobile devices as the primary tool for online engagement it is more important than ever to understand how to design for mobile UX

Web Design for Usability – I’m a BIG believer that usability is key to all user experiences, so I feel this course is critical for anyone who is thinking about or already designing UX

Dynamic User Experience: Ajax Design and Usability – To my sorrow I’m not a coder, but most UX designers at least to some extent need to be, or at least need to understand the concepts of dynamic UX

Open-Source Literature with Top Authors

Another valuable free resource through Interaction Design Foundation is the vast amount of UX content available through open access. Their flagship publication is a 4,000+ page Encyclopedia on Human Computer Interaction.  It includes:

  • Contributions from eminent educators like Clayton Christensen, Don Norman and many more
  • Digital textbook with videos and other media
  • Exhaustive list of HCI concepts covered in chapters on wearables, social computing, 3D interfaces, and many more
  • And the amazing thing is it’s available completely free to anyone in the world

Naturally, I assumed that Mads was a little bit nuts. After all, who would provide such amazing resources for free to the whole world? So I asked Mads, what vision drives him to put so much time and effort into all this free content? According to Mads:

“I started the Interaction Design Foundation back in 2002 because of my love for great design, and my desire to make the world a better place.

It’s in our mission statement that we want to empower individuals and corporations to leverage the power of great design: Whether it be to increase profits of a company, to boost the career of an individual, or to design a life-saving technology.

Whether you are a self-starter with a laptop or a Fortune500 company, whether you live in New York or New Delhi, we want to enable absolutely anyone to learn everything there is to know about great design.

If we teach individuals and companies how to design fantastic products and services, they will positively impact the world. And that’s really what gets us out of bed every morning: That we lead a battle against frustrating and time-consuming technology that drain our productivity, our dignity and sometimes our sanity.”

Conclusion: Why Interaction Design Foundation is a Must for UX Education

I believe UX education is critical to success for anyone working in, or thinking of working in the UX field.  And with the unparalleled almost free access to some of the best ivy-league-like instruction anywhere, Interaction Design Foundation is a must for UX education.

My thanks to my friend Mads Soegaard for taking the time to chat with us.


SPECIAL NOTE: Because he’s a friend of mine, Mads has agreed to provide you, my loyal readers with a very valuable 3 Months Off the normal subscription pricing above! What’s not to like about a SALE?Just use the links provided in this article when you sign up for one of the annual subscriptions.

CLICK HERE TO GET 3 MONTHS OFF THE COURSES – Home page for the Interaction Design Foundation

Free Open Source UX Literature – There is a LOT of free UX information available, be sure to bookmark this

Interview with Mads Soegaard – My 2012 interview with Mads to learn more about his organization and desire to offer low cost UX instruction to the world

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