UX training courses

The steep increase in demand for, and interest in, the role of UX design has inevitably led to a demand that far outweighs supply. This imbalance seems set to increase as more and more sectors realise the impact of applying robust UX principles to their various product initiatives.

This begs the obvious question, how can more UX designers be prepared and made ready for action from core sources such as schools, colleges and universities as well as from a large pool of potential career switchers many of which may have the advantage of previous exposure to real world digital projects via their current careers?

The simple answer is through the tried and tested method of structured learning combined with practical experience and appropriate levels of coaching along the way. Whilst this seems obvious, what is not so obvious is how and where this should be delivered and at what cost?

As you would expect, at a time of high demand many forward thinking entrepreneurial UX practitioners have stepped in to fill the void which on the whole has not been addressed by the majority of traditional learning institutions.

What is the best form of UX design training course for you?

I think that the answer depends on key variables such as time, budget, geographical location, previous experience, and stage of life. What likely applies to all instances however are the core elements mentioned above (structured learning, real world experience and coaching/mentoring along the way).

Given the fact that UX training courses are still a relatively new concept there is likely to be a lot of lessons learned over the coming months and years which will inevitably lead to improvements and a firming up of proven best practices for creating well rounded, battle ready UX designers.

The options below are what I would say are some of the current main players within the UX learning landscape, however it's important that I make it clear that I have not studied on these courses, nor have I explored all aspects of the content included. What I can say is that after exploring this subject over the past few months is that the courses offered by these providers appear to cover a lot of the important subject matter and offer an approach that warrants further investigation.

1) Longer term and higher budget

Center Centre - user experience design school

This organisation provides UX training that is focused on producing 'industry ready' UX designers and requires a 24 month time commitment and an investment of $60, 000. It's important to be aware that this course requires you to be located close to the course location which is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. This is a course focused entirely on the creation of UX professionals with a broad range of UX skills and experience and so is worth checking out if you're ready to make the sizeable investments required. Their first course is due to launch in the first half of 2016.

Center Centre website external link

2) Medium term and medium budget

General Assembly - UX design immersive

This is a 10 week full time course which is marketed as a career accelerator and costs £7,500 (they also offer a part time course which costs £2,800). It's an onsite course available from one of General Assembly's city based centres. Students learn from experts and build a portfolio whilst working across 5 projects and also receive help and support in getting started as a UX apprentice.

General assembly website external link

Career foundry - UX designer course

A 3 - 6 month online course (depending whether you study for 40 or 15 hours per week) which costs £974 (with 25% discount) where students cover a broad range of UX topics and are entitled to bi-weekly Skype sessions with their UX specialist mentor. There is also an emphasis on becoming part of a career change community.

Career Foundry external link

3) Shorter term and lower budget

User focus - Foundation Certificate in User Experience

This is a London based 3 day onsite course costing £1295 and covers a wide range of UX tools, techniques and processes and includes 1 practical design activity where a full UCD design process is applied.

User focus course web page external link

User focus - The Ultimate Guide to Usability and UX

This is a comprehensive wide ranging online course which includes 9 hours of video spread over 117 lectures targeted primarily at career transitioners and established digital professionals. The course markets itself as providing hands-on practice in all key areas of UX including UCD during which candidates complete 5 real world sample projects. There is an emphasis on comparing work with fellow students and receiving answers to questions submitted online by the course author.

User focus course web page external link

The above list is far from exhaustive with new options entering the market all the time. Whilst the longer term UX training courses are likely to be more comprehensive in terms of what you will learn and the practical experience you will gain, this approach is clearly not going to be practical for everyone.

Even if all interested parties had the time and budget required it's not unlikely that the longer term options would be able to provide a sufficient number of practitioners to meet current and future demand. Also, longer term solutions are unlikely to be suitable for many of those with established careers in other fields who will often have existing time and financial commitments but who have earned a rich array of highly transferable soft and hard skills gained over time. This being the case the medium and shorter time commitment options are also likely to experience high demand.

As a seasoned practitioner who started out with a successful career in business followed by a transition into website design and development before finally being immersed deeply into the world of UX (initially usability, accessibility and information architecture), I can attest to the fact that a career transition from into UX is eminently possible, and in some ways is most assured way to create the much coveted 'UX allrounder' who can handle the all important interpersonal and collaboration skills which tend to be learned the hard way as opposed to being taught, (if indeed they can be), technical and design skills.

Could you become a UX designer using one of the methods described above? The answer is potentially 'yes', especially if you have determination and commitment to develop your skills and experience over time and recognise yourself as either a potential 'UX allrounder' or suited to one of the more specialised UX roles available as described within the What is a UX designer? section of this site).

Next steps

If you are interested in becoming a UX designer then I suggest you explore some of the examples introduced above and also subscribe to my soon to be launched UX newsletter which is being designed to help you learn more about the field of UX with a particular focus on those who are interested in starting a career in UX or have already done so and are keen to improve their skills.

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Updated: 12 Feb 2016
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