5 Steps for Effectively Learning UX Design

Interaction Design Foundation as a learning model

Luís Gaspar
The Interaction Design Foundation


Scrabble board with the words School, Learn and Read.
Source: Pexels

I suppose you found this article because you hope to get clear and objective answers about the UX design learning process. Perhaps you are feeling some lack of efficiency in your studies, or that you are somehow lost in the middle of all the information around you.

After more than 13 years of experience as a teacher, I identify a series of patterns that prevent us from learning efficiently and even in a pleasant way.

Maybe you’ve already found yourself wondering:

  • Do I find too much information, such as articles, courses, videos about UX Design?
  • Am I really learning something when I read an article or watch a video?

These are questions that often arise in the minds of those who want to learn UX design and who can’t always find practical and objective answers. These questions emerge because something is wrong with the learning process and, therefore, we need a strategy to solve them.

The 5 steps you’ll find below are a strategy that will allow you to learn UX design in a practical and efficient way. I will use the Interaction Design Foundation as a model to exemplify them and you’ll soon understand why.

1 — Find a Great Learning Platform

Logo of Interaction Design Foundation

You should find a learning platform (a school or a course) that can efficiently guide you in learning UX design. These platforms are fundamental to guide you throughout your process. They prevent you from feeling lost or adrift and provide you with the right content to focus on what’s essential without an overload of information. IxDF is an excellent example of a good learning platform, besides being affordable and trusted in the design community.

2 — Establish Clear and Attainable Goals

Screenshot of Interaction Design Foundation’s course, which shows a lesson. The lesson is titled Welcome and Introduction, followed by the picture of Don Norman.
IxDF as a learning model

As I’ve mentioned before, the first step works as an anchor for the learning process and it’ll be the support of all the following steps.

In order to establish clear and attainable goals, it’s essential to have an excellent learning platform. These goals will highlight resources and opportunities that will help the students gain trust in themselves and the learning process, as they almost immediately generate positive feedback. The students will be aware of the process throughout every moment until achieving their final goal.

3 — The Contents

Blank sticky notes stuck on a wooden tabletop with a marker, keyboard and mouse on one side.
Source: Unplash

This topic is more related to the way you organize your mental processes than the way the learning platform itself is organized. After all, it is expectable that the learning platform you chose will its have contents well organized. That’s why you chose it in the first place, right?

In this third step, the focus is on your responsibility, knowing how to organize the content you’re learning in a way that works best for you. This will bring you enormous advantages, such as:

  • Allowing you not to overwhelm your brain with an excessive amount of information, relieving you from stress;
  • Helping you find an efficient personal organization method, keeping contents available for you in a way that, later down the process, you may want to retrieve or refresh;

It’s good to keep in mind that the work made by a UX designer must be well organized and documented to be successful. Therefore, once you methodically organize the concepts and content learned, you are automatically, training yourself to be equally as efficient as a UX Designer.

Here is a link that may help you understand the process of organizing your studies:

4 — Practice As Much as You Can

Active Practice vs Passive Learning plotted on a graph. Skill Development is represented on the vertical axis, and Knowledge Development on the horizontal axis. Passive Learning is on the right, lower area of the graph, representing high Knowledge Development and Low Skill Development. Active Practice is slightly further on the right of Passive Learning and towards to the top of the graph, representing high Knowledge as well as Skill Development.
Source: https://jamesclear.com/learning-vs-practicing

If I had to choose the most important step, this would be the one. Besides depending exclusively on you, and not the learning platform, this is the most impactful step on the development of your learning skills.

Still have doubts? Let’s clear them out!

Contrary to passive learning, practice means conscience and will. That’s why we can say that the keywords to define practice are deliberation and intention.

I will give you an example: if we’re raised in a household where there’s constant poor behaviour, we’ll acquire it even without being conscious of it. On the other hand, if we want to change those specific behaviours that are inherent to us, we have to gain awareness first and only then can we deliberately practice in order to change them.

The example above shows that we need to leave our comfort zone because that is the only way we can develop new and effective skills.

The best examples of active and deliberate practice can be observed in athletes, musicians, chess players, among others, as they spend endless hours perfecting the execution of their tasks.

To give you some context to this step in the process of UX Design, I suggest you practice a lot, as this will force you to bring awareness to the issues and questions that would be otherwise left unseen.

In summary, for knowledge to be truly acquired, you have to put him in practice.

IxDF is an excellent example of the learning platform presented, because it provides not only theoretical content, but also guidelines for execution that are well defined in the form of templates, practical projects and exercises.

5 — Enjoy the Reward

Two people sitting on a couch and smiling.
Source: Pexels

The feeling of mission accomplished or that the objective is achieved is important in the UX Design process and comes up as a consequence of the steps mentioned before. You can think of this 5th and last step as a reward for something that should be celebrated, and as you’ll see there’s every motive to do so!

As a musician who tirelessly dedicates himself to learn a musical score, hoping that, as a final result, he gets to play it in a concert, you, as a UX designer, can expect to share the result of your work and achievement to which you’ve dedicated yourself so much too.

You can share your work within communities such as Behance, Dribbble and you can also showcase the certification you’ve just earned on LinkedIn.

Any little accomplishment you achieve is a good reason to celebrate and will certainly help you generate enthusiasm and energy to continue the learning process.

I could not leave unsaid the last note regarding the 5th point that might determine your capacity to evolve: whenever you share your work and get some feedback, use it in your best interest and take it constructively.

Interaction Design Foundation — Review

Throughout this article, I’ve referred to the IxDF as an illustrative example of some steps and I do it as I feel it is an excellent learning structure that puts students at the centre of the learning process. Additionally, Interaction Design Foundation’s membership is priced competitively, making it an interesting offer for whoever wants to learn UX Design.

Lastly, and for those interested in learning UI design, I would recommend the following article with regards to UI Design, written by the founder of LearnUI, Erik D. Kennedy.




Luís Gaspar
The Interaction Design Foundation

Product designer and educator. Involved in a variety of complex projects across multiple sectors: NASA, Constellr, Lewitt, Discriminology and Swiss Re