Learn UI/UX For Free
— This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Uxcel in any way.
I recently completed the Graphic Design Specialization from Coursera and really wanted to do more online schooling. This time, however, I wanted to try learning UI Design online instead. Coursera does actually have a UI Specialization, but I didn’t want to commit to another five-course specialization so soon after the design one. I needed a break from traditionally structured courses.
Instead, I found Uxcel. Uxcel is like Duolingo for user experience and user interface. It has courses on UI/UX that are in a very different format to what you typically see in online courses. Each course is actually structured as a series of quizzes, testing your knowledge and teaching you at the same time.
Overall, Uxcel is a really cool educational system for learning UI design online, and it’s totally free. Here’s a bit more about Uxcel so you can decide if you want to try learning UI design online with them.
Uxcel Course Structure
Despite the courses themselves having a very nontraditional structure, the lessons are still divided up into topics. For instance, the first batch of lessons deals with design fundamentals. In it, there is colour theory, typefaces, image terms, layout, icons, shadows, and principles of design. This is the main screen for lessons.
The lessons each are about as straightforward as they can be. Uxcel asks you a multiple choice question, usually visually, and you pick the best one. If you get a question wrong, it lets you know, then moves onto the next question. The questions you got wrong are asked again at the end of the quiz and you have a chance to pick the right answer over and over until you get it right.
At the end of each lesson batch, there is a Level Test. It’s a bunch of random questions from the lessons you’ve previously done. I found this to be quite the challenge because it mostly seemed to choose questions from the ones I had previously got wrong. I guess that’s a good way to learn.
What You’ll Learn
At this point, Uxcel’s classes/quizzes are divided up into separate modules; the later ones are locked and will unlock as you progress. Here’s a breakdown of the levels (in the free version anyway):
Level 1: Design Fundamentals
Level 2: Intro to UI Design
Level 3: Simple Components
Level 4: Complex Components
Level 5: Intro to UX Design
Level 6: Bonus Lessons
Uxcel also publishes weekly challenges with things like ‘UX Writing Tones’ which delves into the tone of language that is used in user interfaces.
How is Uxcel Free?
Uxcel is free because they also have a pro membership. Fortunately the free version is fantastic. To use Uxcel for free, you just need to register an account. No credit card number, just sign up and you can start learning. While Uxcel is free to use, the free membership does not include all the courses Uxcel has to offer. A Pro Membership is $5 a month and includes access to all the courses, ability to access the archive of weekly challenges, certificates of completion, and more. You can check it out here if you’re interested.
I’m currently using the free version of Uxcel and I’ve found it to be a great learning tool for UI/UX. Honestly, there is a ton of educational content in the free version; it will take you a long time to go through it all (I haven’t yet).
Why Uxcel is A Fun Way To Learn UI/UX
So it turns out that the people who teach you about user interface and user experience actually know a thing or two about creating a great interaction and experience. Who would have thought?
Uxcel is a subtly gamified learning platform; meaning that there are rewards for progressing through the levels and points are rewarded as you progress. What is the purpose of the points? They’re really just there as a means to see your progress and compare yourself with other people’s progress on the leaderboard. This is a fun way for people to feel more engaged with Uxcel.
One of my favorite things to do on Uxcel is to learn in the UEye Arcade. This is an area of seemingly endless quiz challenges you can do in certain areas of UI and UX, but you only have three lives if you enter the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ arena. In other words, if you get three questions wrong, you’re out.
The rest of the training games in the UEye Arcade let you play for as long as you like and train your design eye for things like real-world design issues, colour inconsistencies, alignment issues, and typography.
I’ve had a good run with the colour games, though the design issues training game can be very challenging when you’re trying to pick the better image of two nearly identical user interfaces. Fortunately, Uxcel let’s you compare once you’ve answered.
Learning UI Design Online With Uxcel: In Summary
Uxcel provides a really unique platform for learning UI design online and I really hope more tech related industries consider this method of teaching online. For me, the whole experience was really refreshing, challenging, and fun. I really looked forward to doing more ‘quizzes’ each day, and even follow Uxcel on Instagram where they post more mini-quizzes every day.
Now, with all that praise out of the way, I do wonder how well I actually retain what I’ve learned on Uxcel. It’s wonderful that the system will re-test you on material that you have had difficulty with in prior quizzes, but there is still a lot of information getting absorbed into your head that it can often be a little overwhelming. All the information is coming at you in exactly the same way and I’ve noticed some of it getting mixed up. Also, there is a lot of UI terminology to remember that seems different than what it should be.
Lastly, figuring out the subtle difference in two images can be a major challenge. Users are often asked to identify an error in an image without knowing what the error is. The questions are often very vague like ‘which one is correct’ and you end up staring at two identical images for twenty seconds only to find out that, in one image, a circle was 2 pixels out of alignment. Then again, I suppose that’s how you train someone’s design eye to spot any imperfections. Good thing it’s fun!
If you’re serious about learning UI and UX, check out Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug which gives readers a great introduction into intuitive navigation and information design.
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Have you used Uxcel before? What do you enjoy most about it? Let me know in the comments below!