The Practical Guide to Usability

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Beginner

How this course will help your career

What you will learn

  • Why usability matters, and what the key user interface design principles and usability considerations are
  • How to best position yourself as the user in order to spot usability problems
  • How to test the usability of a design through usability evaluations and cognitive walk-throughs
  • Best practices for conducting user testing
  • How to practically apply usability into your daily design work

Every product or website should be easy and pleasurable to use, but designing an effective, efficient and enjoyable product is hardly the result of good intentions alone. Only through careful execution of certain usability principles can you achieve this and avoid user dissatisfaction, too. This course is designed to help you turn your good intentions into great products through a mixture of teaching both the theoretical guidelines as well as practical applications surrounding usability.

Countless pieces of research have shown that usability is important in product choice, but perhaps not as much as users themselves believe; it may be the case that people have come to expect usability in their products1. This growing expectation puts even more pressure on designers to find the sweet spot between function and form. It is meanwhile critical that product and web developers retain their focus on the user; getting too lost within the depths of their creation could lead to the users and their usability needs getting waylaid. Through the knowledge of how best to position yourself as the user, you can dodge this hazard. Thanks to that wisdom, your product will end up with such good usability that the latter goes unnoticed!

Ultimately, a usable website or product that nobody can access isn’t really usable. A usable website, for example, is often overlooked when considering the expansion of a business. Even with the grandest intentions or most “revolutionary” notions, the hard truth is that a usable site will always be the windpipe of commerce—if users can’t spend enough time on the site to buy something, then the business will not survive. Usability is key to growth, user retention, and satisfaction. So, we must fully incorporate it into anything we design. Learn how to design products with awesome usability through being led through the most important concepts, methods, best practices, and theories from some of the most successful designers in our industry with “The Practical Guide to Usability.”

Gain an industry-trusted UX Course Certificate

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course. You can highlight them on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or your website.

Course Certificate

Our courses and Course Certificates are trusted by these industry leaders, who have taken up company memberships with the IDF:

Centure, Adobe, GE, IBM, Philips and SAP

Who should take this course

This is a beginner-level course suitable for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike:

  • UX designers looking to boost their work experience with evidence-based theoretical knowledge
  • Project managers who want to build user-centered products that stand out from the competition
  • Software engineers interested in augmenting their development skills with a sound knowledge of usability
  • Entrepreneurs looking to ship products that are free from usability flaws and thus succeed
  • 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

When you take part in this course, you will join a global multidisciplinary team working on the course and the exercises at the same time as you. You will work together to improve your skills and understanding. Your course group will be made up of an incredibly diverse group of professionals, all of whom have the same objective—to become successful designers. It’s your chance to learn, grow, and network with your peers across the planet.

1 Mack, Z. & Sharples, S. The importance of usability in product choice: a mobile phone case study.

Lessons in this course

  • Lessons become available at a schedule of one lesson per week.
  • Lessons remain open for you forever and have no deadlines.
  • There is no time limit to finish a course.
  • You have permanent access to your course material, answers, and classmates for the entire duration of your membership.
  • Estimated time to complete: 11 hours 50 mins spread over 9 weeks.

Lesson 0: Welcome and Introduction

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 48 mins.

  • 0.1: Introduction and Welcome! (7 mins)
  • 0.2: An introduction to IDF courses (14 mins)
  • 0.3: Let our community help you (1 min)
  • 0.4: How to earn your Course Certificate (4 mins)
  • 0.5: Meet your peers online in our discussion forums (7 mins)
  • 0.6: Meet and learn from design professionals in your area (1 min)
  • 0.7: Gain Timeless Knowledge Through IDF Courses (11 mins)
  • 0.8: Mandatory lessons vs. Optional lessons (2 mins)
  • 0.9: A mix between video-based and text-based lesson content (2 mins)

Lesson 1: User Interface Design Guidelines

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 25 mins.

  • 1.1: Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules Will Help You Design Better Interfaces (14 mins)
  • 1.2: User Interface Design Guidelines: 10 Rules of Thumb (15 mins)
  • 1.3: Principle of Consistency and Standards in User Interface Design (14 mins)
  • 1.4: Visibility of System Status (8 mins)
  • 1.5: Match System to Real-World (7 mins)
  • 1.6: User Control and Freedom (7 mins)
  • 1.7: Error Prevention (6 mins)
  • 1.8: Recognition Vs. Recall (6 mins)
  • 1.9: Flexibility and Efficiency of Use (7 mins)
  • 1.10: Aesthetic and Minimalist Design (7 mins)
  • 1.11: Information Overload (6 mins)
  • 1.12: Offer Informative Feedback (6 mins)
  • 1.13: Help and Documentation (6 mins)
  • 1.14: 'Permit Easy Reversal of Actions' (7 mins)
  • 1.15: Provide Informative Feedback (7 mins)
  • 1.16: Reduce Short-Term Memory Load (6 mins)
  • 1.17: Support Internal Locus of Control (9 mins)
  • 1.18: UI Design Failure (5 mins)
  • 1.19: 8 Ways to Improve the Usability of Your Website (1 min)
  • 1.20: The Psychological Basis for UI Design Rules (1 min)

Lesson 2: Usability Considerations

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 41 mins.

  • 2.1: Simply Simplify (5 mins)
  • 2.2: Simplicity in Design: 4 Ways to Achieve Simplicity in Your Designs (15 mins)
  • 2.3: Simplify Navigation (8 mins)
  • 2.4: Consistency (9 mins)
  • 2.5: Shortcuts and Memory (6 mins)
  • 2.6: Don Norman: The Three Ways That Good Design Makes You Happy (5 mins)
  • 2.7: User Experience - Marc's Advice on Designing with Experience in Mind (26 mins)
  • 2.8: User Experience - Marc's Main Guidelines and Ethical Considerations (22 mins)
  • 2.9: Demonstrating Simplicity in Design (6 mins)

Lesson 3: Thinking Like Users

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 14 mins.

  • 3.1: External Cognition in Product Design: 3 Ways to Make Use of External Cognition in Product Design (13 mins)
  • 3.2: 'Chunking' (3 mins)
  • 3.3: Banner Blindness (8 mins)
  • 3.4: Serial Position Effect: How to Create Better User Interfaces (6 mins)
  • 3.5: The Self-Generation Effect: How to Create More Memorable User Interfaces (11 mins)
  • 3.6: How to Prevent Negative Emotions in the User Experience of Your Product (13 mins)
  • 3.7: Retain Goal-Relevant Information (7 mins)
  • 3.8: Security (8 mins)
  • 3.9: Preventing Errors (6 mins)
  • 3.10: Protect the Areas at Most Risk (5 mins)
  • 3.11: Important Superficial Decisions (4 mins)
  • 3.12: Context of Use (6 mins)
  • 3.13: Designing Interfaces (10 mins)
  • 3.14: Drawing Users' Attention (9 mins)
  • 3.15: Slow Loading Images: Designing Interfaces (7 mins)
  • 3.16: Focus On Users (6 mins)
  • 3.17: Using Sound (2 mins)
  • 3.18: Usability Considerations (5 mins)
  • 3.19: User Experience Design Diagram (1 min)
  • 3.20: When Usability Sucks (5 mins)

Lesson 4: Usability Testing and Evaluation

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 58 mins.

  • 4.1: Usability Evaluation (51 mins)
  • 4.2: Recommended reading (1 min)
  • 4.3: The Importance of Usability Testing (6 mins)
  • 4.4: 15 methods for ensuring user acceptance and business success (1 min)

Lesson 5: Inspection Methods: Practice and Application

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 47 mins.

  • 5.1: Heuristic Evaluation: How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation (8 mins)
  • 5.2: Usability Inspection Methods (10 mins)
  • 5.3: User Experience - Future directions of User Experience and Experience Design (22 mins)
  • 5.4: When to Use Which UX Methods (1 min)
  • 5.5: Carrying Out a Heuristic Evaluation of a Product (6 mins)

Lesson 6: Personas: A Method of Maintaining User Focus

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 3 mins.

  • 6.1: Personas and User Research (20 mins)
  • 6.2: Personas (15 mins)
  • 6.3: Answering Important Questions (10 mins)
  • 6.4: The Science Behind Creating Personas (6 mins)
  • 6.5: Personas from Expert Lene Nielsen (1 min)
  • 6.6: Disney Personas (1 min)
  • 6.7: Persona Templates (5 mins)
  • 6.8: Sharing your ideas (6 mins)

Lesson 7: Practical User Testing Documentation

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 40 mins.

  • 7.1: User Testing: Practical Guide to Usability (8 mins)
  • 7.2: Recording Testing Sessions: Practical Guide to Usability (8 mins)
  • 7.3: User Testing Scripts: Practical Guide to Usability (13 mins)
  • 7.4: Checklist (6 mins)
  • 7.5: Discussion Forum (5 mins)

Lesson 8: Usability Testing: Practical Application

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 13 mins.

  • 8.1: Practical Issues: User-Centred Design (8 mins)
  • 8.2: What are the user's needs? (14 mins)
  • 8.3: What are the alternative designs? (10 mins)
  • 8.4: How do I choose an alternative design? (8 mins)
  • 8.5: Integrating UCD and Other Life-Cycle Models (28 mins)
  • 8.6: Usability Testing: What to Test? (1 min)
  • 8.7: Discussion Forum (5 mins)

Lesson 9: Course Certificate, Final Networking, and Course Wrap-up

To be scheduled.

  • 9.1: Course Evaluation (1 min)

Learning paths

This course is part of 4 learning paths:

  • Visual Designer
    Visual Designer
  • Usability Expert
    Usability Expert
  • Front-End Developer
    Front-End Developer
  • Marketer
    Marketer
  • How others have benefited

    Matthew Worner

    Matthew Worner, Malta

    “Enjoyed the rigorous of this course and it showed more bridging of ideas and theories than I expected to see which was great.”


    David Calabrese

    David Calabrese, United States

    “The whole concept of integrating testing with production, and, in particular, the idea of testing early, is a key insight. Specifically calling out the techniques of agile development, and the use of prototypes, is also good exposure for the methods used in day-to-day product production.”


    Sarang Sudhir Pitale

    Sarang Sudhir Pitale, India

    “Amazing experience while taking the course , great learning and wish that I will get to implement all of these in my future projects.”


    How to advance your career with IDF courses

    1. Attend lessons at your own pace

      Each week throughout the course, you get access to a new lesson, but you can move through the lessons at your own pace. This means you can learn before you leave for work, or in between breaks — in as little as 15 minutes per day.

    2. Network online and offline

      Network with your fellow course-takers online, through discussion forums inside lessons. You can also connect with your peers offline via IDF’s Local Groups. Local Groups connect you with other designers around your city who share the same passion in UX design as you.

    3. Advance your career

      Get a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve scored at least 70% on a course. Highlight your Course Certificates on your résumé, your LinkedIn profile, or your website to showcase your newly mastered skills.

    Start advancing your career now

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    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Courses

    Can I take more than one course at a time?

    Yes, you can take all the courses you would like. For example, if there are 30 active courses, you can enroll in all 30 courses at the same time and move from one to the other as you please.

    There are no further charges once you’ve paid for your membership.

    Please note: If you have a student membership, you can take a maximum of three courses at the same time. As a student, you can thus still take all the courses you would like – free of extra charges – just as long as you finish them (or drop them) so that you don’t have more than three ongoing courses at the same time.

    Start Learning

    I missed the enrollment date and now the course is closed. Will I have any opportunity to take the course in the future?

    Don't worry if you missed the course. We will re-run it shortly. One of the reasons we continually open and close courses is to be able to control the classroom size.

    Networking is a large part of our value proposition, so we want just the right number of people inside the courses. That is also why we display the "XX % percent booked" on our course icons.

    We’ll re-schedule the course and make it available for sign-up on https://www.interaction-design.org/courses in only about a week (or perhaps a little bit longer). The actual start date of the course will be a few weeks after sign-ups begin too. We’ve found that this is the best way to maximize flexibility and convenience for everyone, especially you as you put your course program together.

    Do I have to be online at an exact time to study?

    No. You can set your own study schedule. There are no "live sessions" or "webinars" since our members are from all timezones around the world. We are a truly global community – with members in every single corner of the world.

    Thus, once you are enrolled, you can take all the time you want to complete a given course. Every "classroom" in each course will never close, so you’ll have permanent access to your classmates and your course material (as well as your own answers).

    Will I receive a Course Certificate?

    Yes. Every time you complete a course, you get an industry-recognized Course Certificate. There is no limit to how many Course Certificates you can earn during your membership. You will also receive a 3-step guide on how to include your Course Certificate on LinkedIn and in your résumé/CV.

    You can see an example of a Course Certificate at the bottom of the Course Catalogue.

    How can I drop a course?

    You can simply go to the course page and click on the “Drop Course” button — please bear in mind that this will also erase all your course progress and answers.

    I have answered questions in a lesson; when will they be marked/graded?

    We do the marking/grading in so-called "sprints," where we sit down and do all the marking/grading in one go. Your answers will be graded approximately one week after you submit your work.

    We do this because it is much more efficient than doing one little step every day. It's part of our lean/agile work philosophy, and that approach to efficiency is one of the factors that keeps our membership prices so incredibly low.

    We are doing it to save you money and as part of our mission to lower the cost of high-quality design education.

    I have updated my name, but my course certificate is not updated — how can I change it?

    Please contact us at hello@interaction-design.org and our member support will regenerate your certificate with the correct name.

    I have started the course/lesson later than the specified date, are my answers still going to be marked?

    We will be marking answers for as long as there are active members. Therefore, even if you are the only person taking a lesson at that particular time, your answers will still be marked.

    How are courses graded?

    Multiple-choice questions are automatically graded by our system, whilst open-ended questions are marked by the course instructors.

    I started a course after the official start date; for how long will I have access to the course materials?

    Regardless of when you have enrolled on a course, you will have access to the course materials for the entire duration of your membership. So, if you pay for a one-year membership, you will have access for one year, renewing your membership for a second year means you will have access for two years, and so on.

    English is not my first language so it takes me longer to learn through the course content, will I still be able to answer questions after the course completion date?

    Yes, you will be able to submit answers for the whole duration of your membership.

    New lessons are starting before I have had the chance to complete all aspects of the previous lesson(s); am I going to be locked out of these unfinished lessons?

    No, you will not be locked out of any lesson or course. You will have access to all course materials throughout your membership, so there is no pressure to keep at the same pace as the specified lesson release dates.

    All we recommend is that you try to stick to the same schedule as other participants. The reason is they may have moved on to other lessons, thereby meaning you could miss out on the social aspects of the course(s). However, we anticipate that there will be a constant flow of participants working through different lessons and courses, so overall you are unlikely to miss out. We will also be running all courses again — so there really is no rush.

    Are course certificates awarded on a specific date?

    No; you can generate your certificate as soon as you attain at least 70% of the total course points.

    When will I receive my Course Certificate?

    Course certificates will be given to participants when they have scored more than 70% or more of the total course points. For example, if a course contains ten lessons each with ten questions, you will receive a course certificate when the instructor has awarded you at least 70 points (70% of the total course points).

    There is no specified time that certificates will be awarded — instead, they are given to participants as and when they have answered all questions, even if this is long after the official end date.

    How do I add my Course Certificate to my LinkedIn profile?

    Below is a step-by-step guide on how to add your IDF course(s) to your LinkedIn profile:

    1. Go to your LinkedIn profile page and scroll to your "Accomplishments” section.

    2. Click on the plus button and choose “Certification”.

    untitled 8

    3. In the following fields add:

    • Certification name – Course name
    • Certification authority – The Interaction Design Foundation
    • License number – Your membership ID number (it's written on your certificate)
    • Time period – Input the date written on your certificate (e.g., May 2017)
    • Check the button “This certification does not expire”
    • Certification URL: Input the certificate URL provided on your course page

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    4. Click on the save button.

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    Congratulate yourself!
    You’ve made a great accomplishment by earning your course certificate, and now the world knows about it!

    How do I add the IDF Membership Certificate to my LinkedIn Profile?

    Below is a step-by-step guide on how to add your certificate to your LinkedIn profile:

    1. Go to your LinkedIn profile page and scroll to your "Accomplishments” section.

    2. Click on the plus button and choose “Certification”.
    untitled 8

    3. In the following fields add:
    • Certification name – Membership Certificate
    • Certification authority – The Interaction Design Foundation
    • License number – Your membership ID number (it's written on your membership certificate)
    • Time period – Input the date when you joined our community (e.g., May 2017)
    • Check the button “This certification does not expire”
    • Certification URL: Input the certificate URL provided on your profile page

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    4. Click on the save button.
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    It is as simple as that. Now, anyone who visits your profile can see your certificates!

    How much will I have to pay for the courses?

    As a member, you can take as many courses as you want with no additional costs. This means you only have to pay our membership fee to take an unlimited number of courses. There will be no further charges on top of the membership fee, no matter how many courses you decide to take.

    Do you provide mostly beginners' or more advanced courses?

    We provide courses for all levels of mastery and accross the full spectrum. If you’re new to design, you can start from our beginner courses and progress all the way up to our advanced ones. If you’re an established designer, on the other hand, you will find some of our lower-level courses provide a good refresher—and the advanced ones, a bit of a challenge.

    How much time is needed to complete a course?

    Once enrolled in a course, you will gain access to a new lesson each week, which you are free to complete without any deadlines and no end date, either.