A short story
My journey with IDF so far is quite enlightening and fascinating. As many of us know, UX design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with it. An aspiring UX designer wants to learn something that’s interesting, engaging, educational, and fresh. And when it comes to learning UI, UX, interaction design, and principles, IDF is your go-to resource.
Many of you may already know IDF, but for those who are not aware of, IDF stands for Interaction Design Foundation. They are an independent nonprofit organization who provide low cost, high quality education in the field of design. Established in 2002 in Denmark, they also have around 475 local groups in 84 countries.
Boasting a wealth of information and content from research, surveys, and real time case studies, learning from IDF will enhance your thinking when creating innovative designs as part of your design processes. Along with this, you’ll also learn how you can incorporate UX into your products, and other great tips and tactics to help you to stand out from the rest.
IDF has around 30 courses running at a time, covering all the aspects of UX, ranging from psychology to design principles, research, interaction design, UI patterns, and design thinking… to name a few. Each of the courses is equally appealing and interesting, which makes it hard to figure out which courses to start with since you can enroll in only 3 of the available courses at a time if you are a student member (with professional membership you can take as many you want at any given time).
They also categorise the courses by the level of difficulty: from beginner to advanced. These courses have curated content from the writing, research, surveys, and studies of UX experts from all over the world. So, there is an authority and trademark of quality all over their educational material and you begin to experience it the moment you start learning. The courses are well paced and there is no extraneous information, so that you are always on track. At times, the content is a dense read but that is essential in order to get a better grasp of the concept.
IDF Community and Literature
Apart from the courses, they have open source books with contributed content from HCI experts and gurus. You can also browse various topics here https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics , and there are nearly 134 articles dedicated to UX topic alone — https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design
They also have a vibrant community and discussion forum on various topics like user research, design resources, portfolio review and much more. You get honest answers, feedback and constructive critiques from the community. I have planned to share my portfolio for review many times hoping for some constructive feedback :) They also have local groups for members and I am proud to be a part of IDF Chennai group.
My Career and IDF
I started my career as a developer, but my passion has always been in design, psychology and solving problems. I was on the other side of the coin, doing the how part — dealing and interacting with data, but I was curious about the what and the why. Why is the button placed here? Why, as humans, do we react and respond differently to different actions? The psychology and design principles behind our everyday interactions with the physical and digital world. So, I planned to switch my career to become a UI/UX designer.
The initial phase was rough and blank as I had no clue where to start, whom to ask and how to proceed. I surfed the internet about UX related stuff, and it is like travelling inside a dense jungle with no start and end, no sense of orientation, and I was literally lost.
Getting to know about IDF
Then I came to know about IDF and it was a happy story after that. They have content for beginners who have no clue about UX design, and they guide you throughout the whole course with proper examples, theories and concepts.
IDF played a key role in helping me to get the UI/UX designer job that I was dreaming of. The courses give you so much insight, and the certifications are recognised and valued by industries and organisations worldwide.
And that is not even where it ends! Even in my current job, to solve any UX related problems or to learn more about UI patterns, I keep referring to the course materials. They also update their course content regularly to keep in sync with the latest innovations and trends… for example, I have just enrolled for their course on AR and VR.
Some of the methods I prefer and follow to get the most out of the learning online
I just plan ahead and note down the action items that am I going to start with. I also target a timeline over which I am going to complete them. Incremental learning helped me more than sitting, reading and learning for hours at a stretch. Even a consistent learning period of one hour a day will make a big difference.
At every interval of time you set yourself, validate your progress and check whether you are aligned with your agenda and plan.
Maintaining a checklist is one of the most awesome things ever to do. Checking the tasks off in your list gives you a sense of accomplishment and instant gratification. I usually use Trello for planning.
Try to implement the concepts you learn by creating sample designs of your thoughts — this will provide you good experience for resolving the challenges that you will face in real time.
4. Feynman’s Technique
We think we have learned the concepts well, but only when we try to explain the same to others we come to know about our shortcomings. Feynman’s Technique solves this problem in an easier way.
What next ?
I am hoping to learn more as I grow in this UX field and IDF remains to be the “go to” place for me. I usually recommend my friends, or anyone, who ask me where to start in UX, to check the IDF courses. After watching a good movie you voluntarily recommend your friends to watch it so that they get the same experience that you have got. It’s similar to that.
Thanks for staying with me till now.
Most importantly, keep learning !!