20 UI Bootcamps & Courses Teaching the Design of Tech
How important is interface design? Ask former U.S. presidential contender Al Gore.
In 2000, the Palm Beach County, Florida, elections supervisor enlarged the font size of candidate names on the ballot. She did so to make them more easily legible, but the change resulted in a two-page ballot instead of one — and lots of confused voters. A post-mortem determined that at least 2,000 people mistakenly cast a vote for conservative Pat Buchanan when they had intended to select Gore, who lost the decisive state by mere hundreds of votes.
"You could say that bad typography brought us the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, the housing crisis and a good number of other things," design enfant terrible Stefan Sagmeister recalled years later.
10 UI Design Courses To Know
- Noble Desktop
- General Assembly
- Flatiron School
- Learn UI
While most choices made by user interface (UI) designers — those responsible for the visual design of digital interfaces, like websites and apps — aren’t quite as monumental, the 2000 episode underscores the importance of typography, layout, visual consistency, color, responsiveness (all of which UI pros must master), and how those concepts relate to usability. A solid grasp of at least some programming, particularly front-end development, also is beneficial. The same goes for knowledge of UI’s close cousin, user experience (UX), which essentially focuses on how an app works as opposed to UI’s purview of look and feel. Mastering design/prototyping programs like Sketch or Figma is key, as well.
That’s overload for a YouTube tutorial but likely more specialized than a dedicated four-year degree requires. Which is why bootcamps remain a popular route for members of the UI-curious camp — everyone from novices and career-lane-shifters to design pros who want to expand their skill set.
With that in mind, here are some notable camps and courses that design-inclined tech types, or tech-inclined design types, should check out.
Bootcamps and In-Person Training
Ironhack’s UX/UI Design Bootcamp and Part Time
Cost: $11,500 - $12,500
Noble Desktop’s UI & UX Design Certificate
What it is: A good option for the NYC-based. Including a 30-hour UX blast (which is also available as a standalone course), the 72-hour-total schedule offers a pair of two-day intensives (one on Sketch, one on core visual design concepts like color theory, layout and typography) plus one-day primers on Photoshop and Illustrator. (Students already familiar with the latter programs can swap out with Adobe XD or Photoshop Animated GIFs.)
General Assembly’s Visual Design
What it is: One of the most noteworthy names in the broader digital-upskilling groundswell, General Assembly has locations in nearly two dozen North American markets, including tech hotspots like San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, Boston, Denver, NYC and Seattle. This eight-week course doesn’t get into front-end development, but it does cover important principles like design discovery, color strategy, fonts and typefaces and more. GA also takes a progressive approach to financing options. (It’s also laudably stood firm against policies that could allow financial bad actors into the bootcamp sphere.) Online classes are also available.
Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design
What it is: With tuition starting at $15,800 at most locations, Flatiron School represents one of the pricier coursework routes. But it’s strong reputation, enviable alumni list, deep curriculum and money-back guarantee helps assuage potential sticker shock. (The school refunds graduates who don’t land a qualifying offer within six months of graduation, although its high placement rate mitigates the likelihood of such an outcome.) The immersive course spans 24 weeks, covering both technical and theoretical touchstones. At the six-week point, Flatiron students choose one of two tracks to emphasize. U.S. locations are in NYC, Austin, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle. An online option is also available.
Cost: $15,800 - 17,000
BrainStation’s User Interface Design Certificate Course
What it is: Available online anywhere and onsite in several North American locales (Chicago, NYC, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver) the BrainStation course covers an extensive range of core concepts and industry-standard tools. Students learn prototyping in Invision, animation in Flinto, wireframing in Sketch and handoff in Zeplin. Dedicated units also cover app design (both iOS and Android) and visual theory foundations. Scholarships are available, general placement rates are high, and the school partners with some leading tech brands for hiring, including Accenture, Slack and HP.
Cost: $3,150 - 3,540
What it is: The 24-week Designation course splits the difference between URL and IRL: the first 12 weeks are online; the second 12 weeks are in-person, in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. After an introduction to design and user-research fundamentals, students opt for either a UX or UI track after week five. The full stretch includes a product design sprint, a live client project, design company studio tours and panels with hiring managers. Grads have gone on to work at a host of notable companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Walgreens and Uptake.
University of California - Irvine’s Best Practices for iOS User Interface Design
What it is: The full roster of courses included in this University of California - Irvine nine-month specialization, offered online via Coursera, may include more programming than strictly UI paths require or desire. But its Best Practices for iOS User Interface Design lesson, available a la carte, covers important precepts for Apple-focused UI designers, including the Human Interface Guidelines and UITableView. And those who do want to press into the full development course load will appreciate how it incorporates a range of the iPhone’s hardware.
University of Minnesota’s User Interface Design & Introduction to UI Design
What it is: Led by University of Minnesota professors, this five-month, five-course online Coursera sequence starts off with basics — like the difference in approach when tweaking an existing design versus developing a brand-new one — and culminates with a group-project capstone. In between, the program covers user research, prototyping and usability evaluation. Students can expect to dedicate about five hours per week to watching videos, completing readings or taking quizzes.
CalArts’ UI/UX Design Specialization
What it is: Part of CalArts’ online opening learning program, this Coursera program introduces newcomers the basics of both UX and UI over a stretch of four courses: a design theory-centric introduction, the fundamentals of user-experience design, an overview of different strategic approaches (i.e. agile vs. waterfall, apps vs. websites), and a dive into wireframing and prototyping. Like other multi-course options on Coursera, students also have the option to take a single class. The program is led by two veteran L.A.-based graphic designers and CalArts professors.
Georgia Tech’s User Interface Personalization
What it is: The Georgia Institute of Technology offers a plethora of interesting online courses, including this free, five-week overview, via edX, of what’s now among the most chattered-about concepts in UX/UI: personalization. That’s the near-ubiquitous design element of self-customizing an app or a website’s experience based on data like location and preference history. Although more niche than other options on this list, it’s easy avenue for exploring a function that’s considered a must-know among many product types.
Trilogy Education Services’ UX/UI Bootcamp
What it is: Bootcamp provider Trilogy Education Services partners with higher-ed institutions to administer its classes, including a UI/UX course, at several universities nationwide. Despite some criticism, it remains an option for those who prize an in-person, on-site learning experience. (For what it’s worth, the company has even had some prestigious sign-ons.) UX/UI locations include UT-Austin, UC-Irvine, UC-Berkeley and University of Denver.
Online-Only Courses & Tutorials
Springboard’s UI/UX Design Career Track
What it is: This nine-month course notably offers a high degree of human support, including weekly calls with mentors (Airbnb, Oracle and Whirlpool product-design pros are among the mentorship ranks) and an unlimited number of career-coaching calls. (Springboard guarantees a job offer.) Students learn design fundamentals like hierarchy, consistency and alignment; are exposed to real-world guidelines like Google and Apple platform specs; and get face time with Sketch, Adobe XD and Figma, the latter of which is being rapidly adopted for its nifty real-time collaboration functionality.
Cost: $8,200 - $9,891
Bloc’s Designer Track
Cost: $8,500 - $9,600
Skillshare’s DESIGN RULES: Principles + Practices for Great UI Design
What it is: This top-rated Skillshare course drills deep into UI design theory while also offering practical strategic advice. The reasonably priced course encompasses 50 video lectures spanning five hours from UI/UX notable Joe Natoli. That makes it an attractive, low-investment/high-return intro either for bootcamp registrants who want a leg up or for toe-dippers hesitant to drop several thousand dollars on more intensive training.
Udemy’s Complete App Design Course - UX, UI and Design Thinking
What it is: Another highly-rated Udemy bestseller, this course offers an enticing option for beginners with a mobile focus. The 60-plus lectures run more than three hours and include sections on color theory, typography essentials, text overlaying and vertical and horizontal alignment. It’s led by the London-based App Brewery, which has a roster of app development online courses that may also be of interest. (App Brewery is also an official partner of Flutter, Google’s UI platform.)
CareerFoundry’s UI Design Program
What it is: One of the most respected online-only tech learning platforms, Berlin-based CareerFoundry has earned high marks for its support structure (highly-vetted mentors who help with portfolio development, tutors who provide daily feedback and student advisors for general assistance), accommodating calendar (either four-and-a-half months at 30 weekly hours or nine months at 15 weekly hours) and high placement rate (96 percent within 6 months, according to CF). Prospective UI students can test the waters with a free mini-course and get a no-charge consultation.
Cost: $6,555 - $6,900
Designlab’s UI Design Course
What it is: Unlike so many newbie-centric, comprehensive deep dives, this four-week course caters to mid-career design pros — folks who have professional experience with design concepts and knowledge of some design-related programs, but want to plug the UI hole in their CV. Expect a relatively low-lift option to beef up an existing portfolio while still getting high-quality mentorship and feedback.
DesignerUp’s Product Design (UI/UX) Master Course
This video-driven online course caters to the self-paced learner. It includes 64 lesson videos, plus quizzes and assignments, all of which add up to a roughly 60-hour overall time commitment. Even though the focus is on independent learning, mentors are available as needed through the platform’s Slack channel and Facebook group. The course also includes a 50 percent discount on Sketch for Mac. You can preview most of its seven modules, and DesignerUp offers a refund for those who decide to opt out within two weeks.
Learn UX’s UI Design Tools Video Courses
Despite the site’s title, Learn UX actually focuses more on interface design than user experience — although both get attention. The video collection — some 50 hours in total — appears to be a particularly attractive option for those homing in on specific programs, with tutorials available for Sketch, Framer, Abstract, Adobe XD, Flinto, Zeplin, Figma, Principle and InVision Studio. The handsomely animated site was nominated for an Awwward, which spotlights the best in web design, so you know they walk the walk in terms of aesthetics.
Cost: 12-month membership for $144; one-month membership for $15
Learn UI Design’s UI Course
Another self-paced video-course option, the course is broken down into 41 manageable lessons — 20-plus hours of demo-focused video in total— with a series of downloadable assignments and a collection of PDF “cheat sheets.” The curriculum kicks off with a Sketch introduction, then moves on to aesthetic fundamentals, color, typography, interface components (including dataviz, photography selection and vector editing) and “real world” tips for things like building a portfolio and finding clients. The course was created by Seattle-based freelance UX/UI designer Erik Kennedy, whose clients include Amazon and Soylent.