Formal Design Methods: Formalism and Design

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How This Course Will Help Your Career

What You’ll Learn

  • An introduction to formal methods, and how formalism can help in design problems
  • A brief history of the development of formalisms (in logic, mathematics, and science)
  • What states are, and what the various kinds of states that can exist in an interactive product are
  • How to model and specify the states of a design in a detailed manner
  • How to use dialogue notation, such as state transition networks, to present the different states in your designs as well as annotate any danger states that might be present

You've just fixed a usability problem and are about to release the updated app or website... but have you really got it right this time? Is there an unusual use case you haven't thought of? Can you ever be sure? Thankfully, applying formal methods to your design can help you.

Formal methods are usually employed in mathematical and scientific fields, as the preferred way of presenting information. Many mathematical and scientific theories we know today are in fact written in a formal manner. The scientific theory of gravity, for instance, is presented with all variables, parameters, and factors clearly named and defined, and all assumptions explicitly stated. The power of formalism is that it allows a concept, theory, or model to be completely and clearly defined, so anyone who reads it can easily spot any gaps in logic or exceptions to the rule.

When applied to design, formal methods allow designers to flesh out the entire product (e.g., all the states of an app) explicitly and completely. This allows designers to spot potential flaws in the design (e.g., incomplete user flows, links, or buttons that are not defined in the design, etc.) in less time.

In this course, you will learn how various forms of formal notation and methods can help you catch potentially disastrous problems early in a design process. Formal design methods will also give you confidence that the delivered systems are both what you intended and as free from major usability flaws as possible. You will also learn how to use formal methods to increase the probability that the developers will deliver precisely the design you intended.

Gain an Industry-Recognized UX Course Certificate

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Our clients: IBM, HP, Adobe, GE, Accenture, Allianz, Phillips, Deezer, Capgemin, Mcafee, SAP, Telenor, Cigna, British Parliment, State of New York

Is This Course Right for You?

This is an advanced-level course on formal methods, and it is recommended for designers with some form of experience:

  • UX designers keen on boosting their workflows by incorporating formal methods into their designs
  • Project managers looking to improve the product development process with formalism
  • Software engineers interested in creating a close integration of design and development, by using models and notations to specify designs
  • Entrepreneurs keen on creating products that are free from major usability flaws
  • Newcomers to design who are considering making a switch to UX design

Courses in the Interaction Design Foundation are designed to contain comprehensive, evidence-based content, while ensuring that the learning curve is never too steep. All participants will have the opportunity to share ideas, seek help with tests, and enjoy the social aspects afforded by our open and friendly forum.

Learn and Work with a Global Team of Designers

You’ll join a global community and work together to improve your skills and career opportunities. Connect with helpful peers and make friends with like-minded individuals as you push deeper into the exciting and booming industry of design.

Lessons in This Course

  • Each week, one lesson becomes available.
  • There’s no time limit to finish a course. Lessons have no deadlines.
  • Estimated learning time: 13 hours 46 mins spread over 5 weeks.

Lesson 0: Welcome and Introduction

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 32 mins.

Lesson 1: Formalism In Action

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 30 mins.

Lesson 2: What Is Formal?

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 50 mins.

Lesson 3: Dialogue

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 21 mins.

Lesson 4: A Success Story

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 5 mins.

Lesson 5: Modelling State

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 45 mins.

Lesson 6: Generic interaction models

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 43 mins.

Lesson 7: Course Certificate, Final Networking, and Course Wrap-up

To be scheduled.

How Others Have Benefited

Jim Brown

Jim Brown, United States

“I was completely unfamiliar with formalism prior to this course and am looking forward to see how I can apply this methodology in my day to day work. Certainly applicable to interaction design and experience design.”


Karla Shores

Karla Shores, United States

“Very straight forward, clear examples. Extremely important and relevant in relation to dangerous states and what to avoid.”


Neha Hall

Neha Hall, United Kingdom

“This is an interesting course; not being very advanced in mathematics I was initially quite taken aback by the formulaic nature of the slides, however as the course instructor goes through them, the takeaways make sense. You wouldn't necessarily need to do the equations to prove your UX/UI recommendations to the client, however you can use that logical basis to validate your design recommendations and ensure that you design products that are logical to use and thus don't create a burden on the user to try and figure out what they need to do.”

How It Works

  1. Take lessons by industry experts

    Lessons are self-paced so you’ll never be late for class or miss a deadline.

  2. Get a Course Certificate

    Your answers are graded by experts, not machines. Get an industry-recognized Course Certificate to prove your skills.

  3. Advance your career

    Use your new skills in your existing job or to get a new job in UX design. Tap into our community to help you.

Start Advancing Your Career Now

Join us to take “Formal Design Methods: Formalism and Design”. Take other courses at no additional cost. Make a concrete step forward in your career path today.

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