How Interaction Design Foundation helped me start my UX journey
Exactly 1 year back (May 2020) I got my membership with Interaction Design Foundation. Since then I have completed 2 certifications and managed to get a role as a UX Specialist. Read on to find out how IxDF helped me get there.
First things first, if you are confused about which course to go for and are struggling to figure out which is the best, then I hear you. I have literally been there a year back. Constant Google searches of ‘Top UX Courses in the World’, ‘Best Interaction Design Courses online’, ‘Top trainers for UX’, ….and what-not.
There’s actually quite a lot of content on this search and I did find a few articles helpful, which eventually resulted in taking the membership at IxDF. Here I’m going to share my experience of getting into the world of UX with IxDF.
If you connect with it and feel it’s something you too would want then go for it.
Also, feel free to reach out to me in case you’d like to know more. I’d be more than happy to have a conversation. :)
I will highlight 5 things that I loved about Interaction Design Foundation. These are based on my experience in the past 1 year and what I’ve managed to do since then.
1. Go from Foundations to Pro
IxDF is a massive resource, even though it’s essentially a course-based learning system. What do I mean by that? Well, usually when a place is a resource center (think a library, Wikipedia, etc.) they aren’t typically designed to give you the right steps into learning. Usually, it’s a vast amount of content where you will have to find your way through it.
On the other end, courses are very specific — they follow a proper path and often don’t go beyond what the specialization is.
That’s where IxDF sets itself apart. They have 35 different courses….35! It ranges from the super basic courses like ‘User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide’ and goes all the way to courses on Gamification, Affordances, Augmented Reality, and more. It’s a long list of courses which is very well divided into beginner, intermediate and advance.
The beginner’s courses I took up gave a good introduction into the world of User Experience and more importantly User Research. Before I took my membership, I was actually reading a lot of articles online but couldn’t understand how everything came together.
IxDF manages to give you a good overview of what the UX space looks like and you can choose your path from there. They even have curated course lists based on your aim (Ex. UX Designer, UI Designer, Product Manager, etc.). I am a researcher by heart so decided to go for the research course but I can assure you that their other courses are pretty good too (especially Design Thinking).
2. Certificates! I love certificates
With a Master's in Applied Economics and a Bachelor’s in Commerce, I wasn’t the most exciting candidate when applying for jobs. Listen, it’s not that the industry does not give you a chance. I would say that the world of UX is quite welcoming— always looking for new minds for a fresh perspective.
But the problem was that I didn’t feel all that confident myself. Going into an interview to talk about all this stuff that I had no background in made me feel weird. With 2 IxDF certificates, all that changed. I actually felt confident going into interviews.
I obviously had other things that I could bring to the table from my experience but I didn’t want to fall short in UX — the job that I was applying for. With the 2 certificates, I felt that there was no reason for me to feel like I had to justify why I was even at the interview. In my mind, the conversation now started with — “well I am certified in certain concepts in UX and have proven skills in conducting User Research…let’s talk about what else I can bring to the table.”
It turned my weakness around as I felt like not only am I good at UX Research and have a certificate to show for it but that I stand out due to the other things that I bring to the table.
Crazy! Who knew a piece of digital paper could be so powerful? Yeah? Trust me it makes a difference. Not because someone is going to come and tell you “wow! you have a certificate…you must be good”. Rather it helps you be confident and start thinking about what more can you can offer.
3. The Experience of using the IxDF website is really good :)
Now, you won’t know a lot about this until you actually sign up but that’s what I’m here for! Let me tell you this — the website experience is awesome. Once you start doing the course you will understand why they are best-in-class for what they do.
There is a really good feeling in everything you do on the site. Click buttons, go back, open accordions, login to the site, take up a new course, new chapter unlock…and more.
With each interaction, you will feel more engaged. You will start to understand why very few websites feel this good to use compared to most of them out there. I believe that is due to the micro-interactions they have across the site. It’s a really simple, clean, and well-designed system that keeps you going.
You will never feel overburdened to do the course as it opens up only a certain part of the course each week. While I’m aware that there are people who don’t like this, in my personal experience this is for the best. The creators of the course are true experts in understanding how people learn and what is the best way to keep things going for everyone. It’s a well-paced approach to learning and actually applying.
4. Deep examples to truly understand UX
IxDF introduces different experts from the field and once you see the videos you will truly understand how amazing they are. My favorite is Alan Dix. He is just on another level! Frank Spillers is another teacher that I feel is one of the best out there.
But why? What makes it so special? It’s about their extensive experience.
They have spent so much time being involved in the world of UX that you will be amazed by the type of examples they bring in. Some of them so deep and thought-provoking, they will blow your mind and re-instate a positive feeling of learning more.
The examples are obviously great but they also provide plenty of issues that they have faced while working in corporates, especially Frank Spillers. You will feel like you are getting a ‘UX class’ + ‘how to tackle the day-to-day issues of being in the world of UX’.
I almost forgot about Marc Hassenzahl’s videos, giving you a completely new perspective into the world of User Experience. The products he will talk about and what they can do are quite beyond what we see in our daily lives.
5. Really nice people behind the scenes
Now, I haven’t had a lot of interaction with these guys but just a few of them have left me with lots of joy and I hope to have a conversation with them someday.
Here’s my story. I was about to buy my membership but every time I’d be on the final payment page, I just couldn’t go ahead with it. Now, these kinds of things are pretty normal for websites (checkout abandonment) and usually, companies send you recovery emails with offers in them.
But with IxDF it was different. Rikke Friis Dam mailed me to ask about why I was not able to make the purchase and if there was something that went wrong that they could fix. Now, you need to understand that at that point in time I didn’t know who Rikke was but later on found out that she is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at the Interaction Design Foundation. That kind of blew my mind away. I had never experienced such a personalized experience where someone at the top of the organization of one of the world's best resources for UX would contact you to help you out.
I eventually went on to purchase after a day, but that interaction did make a difference. I have worked with plenty of websites and tried to figure out various solutions to abandonments but this was new to me. It made me take that last step which I was a bit hesitant to take (because I knew someone out there actually cared about the website and it wasn’t just another process).
As I said earlier, I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to them over a call so can’t tell much but micro-interactions like these are delightful and more than enough for me to know that there is someone good behind the scenes.
So, how did it help me get a UX job?
Coming to the part on how it helped me get a job. I already had around 4 years of experience in Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimisation but wanted to expand my horizon by incorporating qualitative methods more widely used in User Research.
I first started by completing the beginner's course which introduced me to the world of UX. After that, I started the User Research course which helped me learn the wide variety of methods that can be used to uncover insights. These courses are amazing as they help you understand the difference between ‘what people say vs. what people do’, both of which are important.
It helped me get some opportunity to work in my own organization’s User Research team to gain some valuable experience. I did not have a portfolio so had to start working on one. Unfortunately, I could not show the work I had done in my organization due to privacy policies with data, which is why I had to build mine using personal projects.
This is where the User Research course came really handy. Because I had learned to define goals and follow a process of writing research questions and then breaking them down into interview questions, my ability to conduct research had improved quite a bit. They give detailed documents so that you can follow the steps and conduct research.
Check out my portfolio here. All the research activities in the portfolio are a direct result of my learnings from the User Research course.
I think I’ve said enough but want to end this article by saying that IxDF is not just a place where you get conceptual knowledge but also find ways to actually apply them and get value. My experience with IxDF has been so amazing that I cannot recommend them enough.
In case you would like to speak to me and learn more about this, do feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.