From Psychologist to UX Researcher: How did the Interaction Design Foundation courses help me? — A Review

As it is widely known, the Covid-19 pandemic generated many changes in people’s lifestyle. In my case, it was a crucial factor that pushed me to incursion into the world of User Experience Design, after discovering that it was an excellent opportunity to combine the two careers I had studied: Graphic Design and Psychology.

After the sudden time availability that quarantine enabled me and with a stronger conviction to venture into this career change, I started looking for course options that offered a good level of training at a good price. Although I found many educational platforms with very good content, the one that convinced me the most was The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF).

First of all, I found many good recommendations about IxDF courses both from Facebook and Slack groups, as well as from fellow graphic designers who had specialized in UX and had already taken some courses at IxDF. Secondly, I found it to be the best cost-effective platform because of the great variety of courses for all levels, the possibility of getting worldwide recognized certificates and the low cost of membership.

Based on what I had already researched before and my psychology background, the area that appealed to me the most was UX Research, so I chose the course suggestions for that learning path. Being a newbie in the subject, one of the courses that helped me the most and that I highly recommend was Design Thinking: The Beginner’s Guide. This course explains in a very didactic way one of the most widely used methodologies of the field and the fundamental techniques of each phase of the process. In addition, it offers the possibility of putting all that theory into practice in a project in which you are guided from scratch. In fact, one of the projects I published in my UX portfolio was the one I did through this course. Carrying out that project helped me to understand some of the theoretical issues that can only be learned through practice. It also helped me to modify my mindset when it comes to design.

The Human-Computer Interaction — HCI course is also excellent. Besides the instructor Alan Dix explains it very well, it contemplates the influence of cognition, perception, memory, thought, emotions and experience in human interaction. Thanks to this course I was able to better realize the valuable contributions of Cognitive Psychology to the field of Human-Computer Interaction. Another reason why I chose IxDF was because of its variety of courses with more specific topics that allow you to deepen theoretically in an area of interest, which in my case is Psychology. That is why I also recommend the course Psychology of Interaction Design: The Ultimate Guide, which I am already taking and which covers more broadly several topics that are seen in a general way in the HCI course.

Going into Research, the two courses that helped me a lot in building my portfolio and for most of the activities in my current job were User Research — Methods and Best Practices and a more developed course on Conducting Usability Testing explained by subject matter expert Frank Spillers. Although as a psychologist I knew several of the techniques that are usually used for user research (such as observation, contextual interviews, semi-structured interviews), I learned new ways to analyze information at a speed according to the pace of the market, for example through group thematic analysis. I have also found it very useful to learn different ways to represent research results and obtain maximum impact.

What I liked most about these UX courses is that the contents have a practical approach, the instructors share valuable tips they have learned through their long experience and what you learn is actually used in real life. For example, in the few months that I have been in my current job, I have already conducted interviews and contextual observations, as well as group sessions of thematic analysis, and presented the results through affinity diagrams and empathy maps. I can testify that these types of visualizations make it easier for the team to understand the information and become a little more involved in the research process.

Another advantage is the facility to learn as a community, generating contacts, sharing doubts, getting feedback and learning from the experiences of other peers from all over the world through the discussion forums available at the end of each lesson. You can also join local groups and access to webinars and bootcamps with significant discounts.

Lastly but not least, I recommend taking Service Design: How to Design Integrated Service Experiences and UX Management: Strategy and Tactics. In my opinion, these courses help to balance the equation a bit and not focus exclusively on the user, but to keep in mind the business needs as well as the difficulties that often occur in organizations. This becomes particularly relevant considering that many companies are just adopting the UX culture and are doing so for the economic rewards it promises.

In synthesis, I think that the wide and diverse offer of courses with a good theoretical level and a high practical application, as well as the prestige and the low cost of membership, make IxDF an excellent option if you are thinking about getting into the field of User Experience Design. In my case it was a very good investment that almost paid for itself: I have taken 13 courses so far for 110 dollars (I got 2 months free through a friend’s link) and got a job as a UX Researcher 6 months after publishing my first UX project. And I still have months of membership left over to keep learning!

If you decided to embark on the UX world through The Interaction Design Foundation, I leave you my invite link to get 2 months of free membership like I did: https://www.interaction-design.org/invite?r=raquel-talavera-baby