Interaction Design Foundation – a review
Recently I was approached by the IDF team and they told me that I was one of the top performers (1%) in their courses. They wanted me to share my experience on how I have benefited from their courses or how my personal/professional life has transformed because of the knowledge that I have gained yet.
What is Interaction Design Foundation (IDF)?
For people who are not aware about it, Interaction Design Foundation is a non-profit educational organization which produces open content and Open Access educational materials online with the stated goal of “democratizing education by making world-class educational materials free for anyone, anywhere”. One of their mission statements can be found on their website –
We produce top-grade open-source educational materials by the world’s design elite. Through free and open access to top-grade educational materials on how to design technology, we educate millions of technology designers on how to make more people-oriented and easy-to-use technology — such as websites, household appliances, software applications, and mobile devices.
How I discovered them? 🤔
One day I was casually searching for what the term “Design Thinking” meant because I had seen it being used at multiple places but was never sure of what it actually meant. I stumbled upon this article by them and it was really precise and quick to understand for anyone who hasn’t heard about the term before.
Out of curiosity, I tried to look at other articles posted by them and the more I read, the better was my grasp at the concepts that I had only known vaguely before. I came to know that Don Norman is also associated with their team and when the pioneer in user-centered design (or people-centered design, as he prefers to call it) tells you to take a course, you better take it.
So I decided to take the Design Thinking course offered by them and it became the very first course that I took there. I was really impressed by the in-depth knowledge that was presented throughout the course and how well was the course material structured. I ended up being Top 10% in the class.
A great thing about them is that they have divided the courses into Learning Paths. Rather than putting out every course in the wild, they have structured the courses according to the job roles that are currently in demand in the design industry. A couple of examples of their learning paths include UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Visual Designer, Usability Expert, UI Designer, User Researcher and many more.
Next major course — Human Computer Interaction (HCI). I was always fascinated by the term because this is what we do everyday, isn’t it. I mean you are probably reading this article on a computer screen and interacting with it in some way or the other as a human (Boston Dynamics robots don’t count 😬).
Professor Alan Dix taught most of the lectures in this course and I came to know how things like cognition & perception, memory and emotions play an important role while interacting with a computer. Designing an experience while keeping the user centered approach in the center always yields great results.
A mixture of both text and video based content helps to grasp the knowledge faster. You will also get a combination of objective/subjective questions after each lesson item that can help you to summarize what has been learned in the lesson. You also get an amazing community on the platform to interact with and ask questions.
Just one thing that annoys me sometimes. There are a couple of lessons that are only text based and almost 25–30 minutes long. I feel like most people find video lectures more convenient to watch as compared to a long text based lesson. Maybe these long text lessons can be broken into chunks of two or more sub-lessons and that would be easier to consume.
Impact of IDF on personal/professional life
I feel like IDF has played an important role during my transition phase from a software developer to a UX/UI designer. For someone who did not attend a Design School, it helped me a lot to get a clear fundamental knowledge of user experience design and probably will keep doing that in the future. It taught me how to gather requirements for building a product, identify stakeholders, market penetration, psychology and much more. It played an important role in evolving my thinking from technical perspective to user perspective.
There are a lot of articles or books you can read on UX on your own, but it was the more formal structure of coursework, assignments and lessons that gave me more confidence and helped me to learn better. You might find this quote to be cheesy but it fits in really well here so I am going to put it anyways —
The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you — B.B. King
And I feel like all this learning will always stay with me…