Online Learning: a Review of Interaction Design Foundation

Dedicated to those who need to know a little bit more before making decisions.

I’ve always been passionate about design (true story). After completing a part-time graphic design course, I wanted to learn more about digital design and UX design, in particular. It attracted me because it solved real problems and I’ve also got a sweet spot for coding.

I’ve already had background in data analysis and visualisation and took part in some IT projects, but I felt I needed to learn more.

I came across Interaction Design Foundation through an Instagram account I follow and decided to give it a go.

Here I’m sharing what differentiates Interaction Design (aka IxDF) from other online courses.

ideation with pen and paper
Image credit: William Iven Unsplash

You choose your path

Whether you’re a beginner or upskilling in a particular feed, IxDF might have something for you. They split courses into levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), and you can follow this classification, or mix and match — totally up to you!

I have got experience in some topics already, but I personally tend to pick courses depending on whether I needed to refresh my knowledge (because you don’t work with every possible aspect of design every day, so may forget things), polish my skills or learn something completely new to me.

laptop, notebook and a glass of water
My study space

I particularly enjoyed the Accessibility course! I am very passionate about the topic; yet, didn’t find many comprehensive educational resources on this. The IxDF course was very powerful as it didn’t only provide tools and taught principles (which I’m sure you can read about online), it was packed with real-life examples and practical advice on conducting research for accessibility.

The dashboard design course was a revelation. I’ve designed dashboards before, but never thought there was science behind that. Turns out, intuition isn’t the best principle to follow to tackle dashboard design (although sometimes it’s not very far off).

I’m currently doing courses on Service design and Gamification. What I like about IxDF courses is that they not only offer a vast amount of theoretical material you can read and use for later reference, you also get a lot of templates you can adopt to your real-life projects, and a chance to work on case studies to help your learning. Hello, more cases for the portfolio!

Well, here’s a case study I did for the service design course. I applied the principles and templates provided to create a solution for a hot drink vending machine in the office (I’m writing this piece while still in lockdown and working from home, so feeling a little nostalgic about those old office days).

value proposition canvas diagram
Value proposition canvas from IxDF applied to the vending machine case study

If you’re still unsure where to start or want a more structured approach to your learning, IxDF have also got pre-defined paths (e.g. UX Designer learning path or Front-End Developer learning path) you can follow.

I have to say, I’ve got a broad array of interests and I don’t like to be within boundaries, so I choose courses based on what I want to learn. But obviously, there’s no ‘one fits all’ options, so what you probably want is flexibility to choose and that’s what you get with IxDF.

You get feedback

Have I mentioned IxDF’s well-written and pretty comprehensive material, with the right level of difficulty? You might be surprised, but there are many online courses out there that would create their content thoroughly as well as craft exercises to go along with these.

What is different with IxDF is that you get feedback and it’s not unknown that feedback helps you learn and improve (unless you can’t be bothered to get self-satisfaction from doing well, but I don’t know many people who wouldn’t get pleased with personal achievement).

IxDF motivate you to complete courses and earn distinction (so, they’re literally living by what they teach in their gamification course). Earn is the key word here, because for the privilege to post your new shiny certificate on your LinkedIn, you need to work. You need to answer both multiple choice questions and open-ended questions (which are actually graded by humans, not computer!). And man, these questions are often difficult, but challenge is the part of the fun, right?

prototyping with pen and paper
Image credit: Kelly Sikkema Unsplash

In addition to answering questions, there is a social aspect to each course. Honestly, it’s up to you whether you want to interact with peers or not. After all, we’re all busy people juggling day jobs and side hustles, living in different time zones; but if you want to participate in a discussion, there’s an opportunity to do so.

This can, however, be a problem if you’re after some help or opinion, because people are accessing courses from various time zones and at different pace, so would rarely come back to a discussion board they’ve already passed (guilty myself); you’d be better off starting a discussion in a local (or not so local) meet-up group (also available on IxDF) or a slack channel you might be part of.

Resources library and more

Last but not least, you get access to the library of resources covering different topics and discounts to attend webinars! Now, you don’t have to be a member to attend a particular webinar, but paying considerably less for it (membership discounts, folks!) is a nice thing to have, when you’re on a tight budget and simply can’t afford paying full price for all the webinars/ workshops/ etc you’re interested in (and they tend to be plentiful).

For instance, the last one I attended was on how and when to run a design sprint presented by John Zeratsky, the co-author of this famous book (if you haven’t read it, do so!). And if you happened to miss it (which is rather unlikely, because IxDF would send you numerous reminders), you can always view it on demand. Tempting, isn’t it?

I hope you find this review useful and most of all entertaining. If you’re currently at crossroads in terms of your online learning, check IxDF out!

Disclaimer: this article presents my personal and honest opinion, although I must admit, I was asked to write a review. Hope you enjoyed reading it though and, please, do reach out if you want to know more.

Data analyst, graphic designer and illustrator, UX/UI designer based in Manchester, UK