UX Academy Foundations: Our New UI/UX Design Course

UX Academy Foundations benefits those looking to kick-start their career in UI/UX design, by helping them build a solid foundation in visual/UI design and desi…


Today we’re super excited to announce the launch of our brand new course: UX Academy Foundations! As an industry leader who helps individuals become UI/UX designers through highly practical online courses, we couldn’t be happier to add this program to our suite of affordable, flexible, and rigorous learning opportunities. 

The goal with our UX Academy bootcamp has always been to build the highest-quality online design training program in the world for career switchers. UX Academy Foundations helps us continue to advance towards that mission, with an in-depth intro course that is unique in the industry in its depth and rigor.

The course will benefit those who are looking to kick-start their career in UI/UX design, by helping them build a solid foundation in visual and user interface (UI) design, and design software like Figma and Sketch. In this article we explain everything from why the course was created, to how it stands apart in the industry, and what students think! 

Why Was UX Academy Foundations Created?

Design is a field that lends itself well to career transitions from a multitude of perspectives and backgrounds. However, for those new to the field of UI/UX design, simply learning about its existence can be a daunting task. Many of our students don’t come from a formal background in design; much of the time, they hear about UI/UX design through word of mouth, or they see a job posting for it and think, “Wow, this is a job?! I want that job!”

Here at Designlab we offer short 4-week courses for those new to specific parts of the UI/UX process, like UX Research & Strategy and UX: Interaction Design. We also offer Design 101, which is a course for those looking to learn a little bit more about visual design. Our flagship course, UX Academy, is a 15-week (if taken full-time) career-changing program and, over the years, we’ve found that students with a foundational understanding and skill set in UI design were more easily able to take UX Academy’s rigorous curriculum in their stride.

So, after many months of research, with the intent to find a better lead up to UX Academy for complete beginners, UX Academy Foundations was born.

What Makes Learning Through UX Academy Foundations Unique

There’s no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to learning. For those seeking the bootcamp-style experience, there are many options to choose from, and it’s important to take the time to figure out which educational provider suits you the best. Here are some ways UX Academy Foundations shines as a unique offering in the marketplace.

Some Key Stats:

  • 99% of the learning materials are created in-house
  • >30 hands-on, practical projects incorporated into the course
  • Flexible 4-8 week course duration (minimum of 10 hours per week)
  • Built-in Figma and Sketch tutorials
  • Final 10-hour design challenge which students can use in their application to UX Academy

When Compared With Design 101:

  • Students are 70% more likely to complete the course
  • Graduates have 21% higher UX Academy admissions scores
  • Foundations students are 107% more likely to move onto UX Academy

Unique & Rigorous Educational Approach

Practice makes perfect and you’ll get a good grasp of design basics in Foundations through rounds of repetition and feedback. The course includes exercises that will help you learn to see design details and build your practical design skills through copywork, reflection, sketching, and ideation. 

Stephanie Chang Design Challenge
Stephanie Chang’s UX Academy Foundations final design challenge.

Supportive and Interactive Community of Peers & Mentors

In UX Academy Foundations, you’ll work with peers and mentors to practice your networking and communication skills. You’ll experience a Group Crit session where you’ll practice giving and receiving feedback and will also connect and collaborate with your peers through our dedicated Foundations Slack community. You’ll also have 8 mentor sessions, with continuous written feedback on projects in between sessions.

Insightful Introduction to the Learning Environment

You shouldn’t have to commit to a program straight from the get-go. UX Academy Foundations enables you to learn about the world of UI/UX design, the Designlab course platform, learning materials, and mentorship before making the bigger commitment to sign up for an intensive bootcamp.

How UX Academy Foundations Prepares You for UX Academy

While the UX Academy program focuses on the entire user experience (UX) design process, UX Academy Foundations narrows in on helping students build foundational skills in user interface (UI) and visual design — preliminary skills that have shown to align with student success. 

The UX Academy Foundations curriculum was also developed with rigorous time limits to help students get used to the fast-paced nature of UX Academy, should they choose to apply. For example, the final project piece in Foundations is a 10-hour design challenge which students can use in their UX Academy application to help them pass the admissions criteria.

Foundations Example

In UX Academy Foundations you’ll learn to visually represent your ideas through improving your UI design comprehension, and you’ll also get foundational knowledge on how to use tools that UI/UX designers use every day, like Figma and Sketch. Finally, you’ll learn soft skills that will prepare you for both UX Academy and the real world, like receptiveness to feedback, willingness to learn, and deliberate communication.

🔷 Starting from January 2021, UX Academy Foundations will be the only prerequisite for UX Academy. Students who previously took Design 101 will be able to apply for UX Academy during the first half of 2021, after which they’ll also need to complete Foundations to be eligible. 🔷 

While our Design 101 course continues to be a great way to get acclimated with key theories in design, with UX Academy Foundations we better equip learners going into UX Academy with visual design and technical skills that will be immediately useful.

How UX Academy Foundations Differs From Design 101

Design 101 was developed to provide an overview of beginner UI/UX design concepts, like layouts, color theory, and typography. This short course is four weeks long and includes 4 mentor sessions as well as 16 hands-on projects.

Design 101 is still an excellent choice if you would like to get a general sense of the UI/UX industry, or if you’re currently in an adjacent career (like software engineering or product management) and want to empathize better with your design team.

In contrast, UX Academy Foundations is for those who want to turn their passion or interest for design into a career in the UI/UX industry. It serves as a preparatory course for individuals who have little to no previous design experience but who want to eventually make the bigger commitment of enrolling in an intensive UI/UX design bootcamp, like UX Academy. UX Academy Foundations will teach you everything you need to know ahead of taking such a course, and will help you work on a final design challenge that you can use in your bootcamp application.

With this course, we’ve improved upon the learning approaches used in Design 101, like using copywork as a way to understand the nuances of visual design. We’ve also added more video and audio content, due to the popular preference of these mediums. Here is an example of some of our new video curriculum...

In UX Academy Foundations, you’ll also be able to experience an introductory Group Crit session, which will be a weekly feature of UX Academy, to help you build up your soft skills of critical thinking and feedback in a live, group environment.

User Research and the Iteration Process

We uncovered a multitude of fascinating data when designing and iterating on the UX Academy Foundations course. We looked into historical outcome data, skill assessments, and tons of user feedback to identify the areas where students were most likely to struggle. Bringing all these insights together allowed us to create a unique curriculum structure that focuses on building the skills we know students need to meet their long-term, career-changing goals.

We released our first beta cohort of UX Academy Foundations at the beginning of 2020, and have continued to monitor student feedback every step of the way, producing iterative updates adapted to meet both the course goals and address students' needs and concerns. We were able to isolate topics, lessons, and projects that were most likely to cause confusion or frustration, and restructure them to allow us to move closer to a seamless learning journey.

Now, after over 700 beta students and thousands of pieces of user and expert feedback, we are excited to announce the first public cohort of UX Academy Foundations beginning on January 11, 2021.

What Students Say About UX Academy Foundations

Don’t just take it from us! Read what UX Academy Foundations students have said about their experience in the testimonials below, and on SwitchUp.

I found UX Academy Foundations super thorough and structured in an easy and enjoyable fashion. I enjoyed how it started with more traditional visual design tasks and led us up to working on a mini design project where we produced web pages and app screens by the end. - Yehuda Raice

Taking UX Academy Foundations is then where I truly fell in love with UX/UI design. During the course, I learned an immense amount and was able to express my creativity through my own designs. Conversations with my mentor were extremely effective and informative, and he did an amazing job of helping me understand the reasons behind design best practices. If I ever had a question, he would immediately answer and give additional examples to help me fully grasp the information. - Victoria Padilla

I really found UX Academy Foundations helpful for me to get ready for UX Academy. Especially the hands-on projects. After reading about the topic, I could apply what I learned to the project, and it made it easier to understand the concept better. I would definitely recommend Foundations to others, because learning about basic design is crucial for UX design. 
Moreover, it helped me to get familiar with vocabularies and the basic idea of UX design, so when I started UX Academy, I was very confident and felt comfortable going through the intensive course. - Gyuree Kwon

I always enjoyed creative projects in school when I was young, but never had any hobbies specifically related to the arts. Getting older meant fewer opportunities to unleash that side of me, and Designlab helped me bring that back. The highlight of Foundations was realizing my designs were becoming intentionally purposeful and subtly visually appealing. Combining scientific principles of design with creativity and applying both, is a skill that requires a lot of practice. Designlab’s curriculum condensed the most important design theory into practical projects combined with impressive mentorship, which allowed me to grow as a designer in the fastest and most practical way possible. - Lea Davidson

Is UX Academy Foundations for Me?

The UX Academy Foundations course may be a good fit for you if…

You already know a career in UI/UX design is right for you.

You’re starting from scratch, so you need to get some technical skills under your belt.

You want to get into an intensive UI/UX design program like UX Academy, but are unsure if you’re ready for the commitment, or if you can handle the workload.

You need help progressing your visual and UI design skills before moving on to learning UX design skills.

You want a mentor who will give you critical feedback and career advice to help you grow as a designer and help you take your first steps.

You want to empathize with designers and understand how they approach problems and create solutions.

You are willing to take ownership of your design journey, and understand that education is just the beginning.

You want to make a difference in the world by contributing to design teams with your unique perspective and background, and you’re ready for the real challenge that comes after UX Academy: actually getting the job.

So, the question is, are you ready to design a future you’re proud of?

If the answer to these questions is “yes!” we encourage you to check out our brand new course, UX Academy Foundations. If you have further questions on whether UX Academy Foundations is right for you, reach out to one of our Admissions Reps via admissions@trydesignlab.com. 

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Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.