Matthew Garvin

UX Research, Design, Strategy

Learning UX Design with the Interaction Design Foundation – a review

Hi everyone,

I’ve sampled a variety of MOOCs, industry publications, and organizations. I’ve scoured the internet for resources related to UX. In this post, I review one of my most trusted sources of information for UX courses and materials – the Interaction Design Foundation. The Interaction Design Foundation is one of my favorite websites and often the first place I go to when I turn to the internet to look up information about the user experience and interaction design. From courses, to articles, to template bundles on everything from Design Thinking and UX Design, to Front-End Development and Visual Design, the Interaction Design Foundation is at the cutting edge of human-centered research and innovative design.

Interaction Design Foundation Learning Paths
Don’t know where to start? IDF has a multitude of learning paths.

When I initially began my journey toward UX, I was more interested in UX Design. Only after I got into my graduate program where we were encouraged to specialize, did I start leaning more towards User Research. Given IDF’s variety of learning paths, the ease with which I was able to switch in order to find courses most relevant to my goals and interests was almost effortless. Of course, because of the overlap, I already had a head start.

IDF hosts a monthly professional masterclass at only $1 for members.

Since becoming a member, I’ve attended a few masterclasses. I mean, why wouldn’t I? It’s only $1 for members! Then I get an on-demand copy I can access from my profile.

IDF Masterclasses

Over the course of this pandemic with working from home, self-isolation, and other social distancing measures, every time you open up your browser there’s a new webinar or masterclass being shared around Linkedin or elsewhere. That’s great to see new faces, hopefully not rehashing the same old topics, but a lot of these webinars end up just being thrown together without the sort of upfront planning or thoughtfulness in regard to the audience and their experience.

Everything about the Interaction Design Foundation experience has been meticulously curated by industry leaders and thinkers.

IDF has an incredible collection of open-source, open-access literature.

The Interaction Design Foundation also has a large collection of literature, both classic and cutting edge. This material is a great resource to introduce people to core concepts and methods used in Human-Computer Interaction, with more advanced material to challenge the user at any stage in their career. Of course, there are many other websites offering articles, books, and lessons. I don’t know what materials every academic HCI program is using, but I do know that here at the University of Michigan School of Information, ranked the #1 school for Information Systems several years running, there are required graduate courses that rely in part on open source materials from IDF. These materials are used to fast track students from a broad array of undergraduate majors and professional experiences to master Human-Computer Interaction and UX Design.

I have said more than once that while I’m thriving in my graduate program at UMSI, I believe a lot of the credit for this is owed to the Interaction Design Foundation. In my first year of the program, I quickly rose to become a leader among my cohort.

A large part of this is because of the resources I have access to through the IDF. The courses, literature, and social media posts are some examples of this. But in reality, the resources I make use of most often in my professional work, consulting, and user research internship, are the template bundles.

I’ve used them help prepare for stakeholder interviews, contextual inquiry, affinity wall diagramming, facilitating group Design Thinking activities, heuristic evaluations, and even picked up an AR/VR/MR template bundle to inform my work with the Collaborative Lab Advancing Work in Space (CLAWS) on the AR Toolkit for Lunar Astronauts and Scientists (ATLAS) for the NASA SUITS Challenge.

At every step of the way, the Interaction Design Foundation has been helping me reach my goals. I’ve completed four courses so far, obtaining the Best in Class distinction in Design Thinking, and will be completing User Research – Methods and Best Practices shortly, and working on UX Management: Strategy and Tactics.

One last thing I’d like to mention before I end, the IDF is a community. I’m a member of IDF Detroit and IDF Ann Arbor. Of course we’re not particularly active right now, but I have been to meetups and have leveraged IDF, not only for their educational materials, but also for the networking opportunities. As you grow your skills and advance in your career, UX professionals start to become like a big family. Being a part of that community and taking advantage of networking opportunities are essential, and the Interaction Design Foundation goes out of its way to nurture that need. There are discussion forums, opportunities to interact with your classmates, and almost 500 IDF local chapters, hosting meetups and events, networking opportunities, workshops, and other opportunities.

The UX Community on IDF spans the globe.

Honestly, I can’t recommend the Interaction Design Foundation enough. It’s the first and last place I go to for information related to UX. Anytime I hear someone say something about UX or read an article discussing the topic, I cross-reference with IDF to see what they have to say. They are the industry leaders, and the organization is made up of great people who are a core part of the community that they’ve helped build. I’m a part of that community too!

I hope to see you there,


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