I Completed IDF Courses Online…and It Changed My Professional Life

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A shift in focus

Legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

I never fully understood this quote and how it applied to UX / UI design until I took courses online with the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF — www.interaction-design.org).

Before taking courses with IDF, I tended to focus more on design principles than I did on real users. But now I know that when it comes to creating engaging web pages, it is more important to think about the users who will be accessing the pages and consider how they will interact with them based on their different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

So, what is IDF?

IDF is a Denmark-based, independent nonprofit initiative that works to create accessible and affordable Ivy League-level design education. It collaborates with top universities like Stanford and Cambridge, global companies like SAP Labs, and noted authors like Clayton Christensen and Don Norman to provide first-class curriculum to millions of designers all over the world. IDF’s dedication to taking open-source education global has caused it to be featured in Forbes, MSNBC, Mashable, The Huffington Post and many other media outlets. Don Norman, computer science researcher and director of The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego, has called IDF “a goldmine of information on interaction design”.

I can honestly say that taking courses with IDF has improved my life as a web designer, both from a personal and a professional perspective.

Gestalt Theory, which I learned about in the course titled, “Gestalt Psychology and Web Design: The Ultimate Guide,” really helped me to approach design from the perspective and psychology of users. Both my understanding of human vision and visual perception were broadened through the knowledge dispensed in this course. A description of the course reads, “Gestalt psychology is a theory of mind which has been applied to a number of different aspects of human thought, action, and perception….The organization of these cognitive processes is important to our understanding of how we interpret the constant stream of visual information entering our eyes and how it becomes a cohesive, meaningful and usable representation of the world. Over the last twenty years, the work of Gestalt psychologists has been adopted by interaction designers and other professionals involved in the development of products for human users.”

IDF’s courses are made up of videos, open-ended questions, multiple choice questions and group discussions which enable course members to collaborate on different topics. A detailed explanation is provided for each course subject through supporting reference material. All course instructors are well-experienced and explain concepts in a way that is easy to grasp.

My top three recommendations for learning with IDF

1. Don’t take too many lessons at one time without developing a deep understanding for the subject.

2. If you need more clarification on a subject, Google it or discuss it with course members to explore the subject more before answering any questions from the lesson.

3. Make notes of important points from the courses you take.

New knowledge = more confidence

I thoroughly enjoyed taking courses with IDF and with the new knowledge I gained, I feel much more confident now to succeed in my field. I highly recommend that anyone involved in web design, UI / UX and marketing take IDF courses because they will discover how to better create effective, efficient and visually pleasing displays whether those displays are graphical (e.g., an eCommerce website) or tangible (e.g., a smartphone).

Thanks, IDF! You are providing a valuable opportunity for web designers, such as myself, to learn more about web design and to improve our craft.