I completed the Google UX Specialization Course, and here’s my honest thoughts about it.
— To start off, I figure I’d disclose that this course by Google is my very first proper introduction (not accounting a couple of short YouTube tutorials) into the whole UX space (and UI for that matter). To save you some time, yes I do think it is worth it for beginners, especially given the affordable price tag and the materials are structured in such a way that is easily digested even by total newbies. I paid $15 monthly (I believe the price is different depending on where you are) and it took me 6 months to complete ($90 total). There are 7 chapters to complete, the first 5 chapters would conclude your first project, the sixth for your second project and the seventh for the final project.
The first chapter is titled “Foundations of User Experience (UX) Design” which talks about UX fundamentals and theories, such as what makes a good user experience, the importance of accessibility, questions that need to be answered during the research stage, and the process of design research. This chapter is the one that I believe most people completed the quickest as it is mostly theories and reading materials, as well as where >75% of the students enrolled dropped out.
Chapter two is called “Start the UX Design Process: Empathize, Define, and Ideate” which explains how to empathize with users, identify user pain points, define problem statements, come up with value propositions, and the methods to get the ideas flowing in order to solve design problems. I find this chapter quite useful as it introduced me to unique problem-solving and design-ideation methods that otherwise I wouldn’t have thought of.
The third chapter which is called “Build Wireframes and Low-Fidelity Prototypes”, is where I started to pick up my pen and paper and got to work. This chapter talks about user flow and how it is used to build information architecture (IA), how to connect the insights uncovered during the research phase and the flow of user experience, as well as how to create wireframes and convert them into low-fidelity prototypes. I’d recommend to start drawing with pencil and paper instead of jumping into Figma straightaway, as it allows you to explore more ideas faster and iterate quickly.
The fourth chapter is titled “Conduct UX Research and Test Early Concepts”, in which I learnt to plan out how I would conduct user research, gather feedbacks and convert them into data-based insights, and how to present the research findings before moving onto high-fidelity designs. I’m gonna be honest, it took me quite some time to get the hang of everything here as I enjoy drawing and designing way more than the research phase, and sometimes it can feel repetitive to keep iterating your designs in order to address some problems before moving on to higher-fidelity stages.
The fifth chapter is called “Create High-Fidelity Designs and Prototypes in Figma”, is what I believe most (if not all) students’ favorite chapter, and the one that everyone thinks about when they first sign up for the course, myself included. This is where they introduced visual design principles, design system fundamentals, and how to create mockups and high-fidelity prototypes. I really enjoyed this part of the course as I finally complete my very first project and case study.
Chapter six, “Responsive Web Design in Adobe XD”, is basically where I went through chapter 1–5 all over again (with a different prompt), but instead of using Figma, the high-fidelity prototypes and mockups were built with Adobe XD. This chapter also put emphasis on responsive design and how important it is that the design is optimized for different breakpoints viewing, and also where you will submit your second project/case study. Although I am a big fan and daily user of Figma, I can comfortably say that XD was relatively easy to learn especially if you’re already familiar with Figma.
The last chapter is about combining everything you’ve learnt through out and come up with both app design and responsive website version for a product for social goods, titled “Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare for Jobs”. This is where I submitted my third project, and they also provide tips on building your design portfolio and preparing for job interviews which I find quite useful.
The things that I enjoyed the most about the course is that how well-structured it is, making every stage of the process easy to understand. Sure, you can probably find the materials taught elsewhere for free, but it would take you considerably longer to get the hang of everything without a properly structured way of learning as you’d likely jump around from creating mockups for your portfolio to learning about visual principles, then back on how to conduct usability studies. Another worth-mentioning perks of taking this course is that I got to learn at my own pace with no rush, making the learning experience better for everyone.
Although the overall experience was very enjoyable for me, there is one thing that bothers me about the course and it is how the grading system works. There are no “designated examiner” or “teacher” that examines the work that you submitted and decide whether or not you pass. Instead, they use what they call a “peer-review” system. Basically, other students get to score your work without any credible examiners, which causes some to submit below-mediocre projects and caption it “give me high score and I’ll do the same to yours”. A bit frustrating for me, not gonna lie, as there are some well-crafted projects graded way lower than it deserve while someone that screenshots other people’s work passes all the courses just because the “peers” that got to review them feel like it. Yes, the “peers” are randomly assigned.
I’d recommend this course for anyone that’s looking into getting started on UX. The course breaks down the materials into easily-digestible chapters in a well-structured way that total beginners wouldn’t have any problems with through video and reading materials, and also provides quizzes/activities that refresh your knowledge every once in a while. Despite its flawed grading system, I can say that I enjoyed every part of the course and it certainly helps me massively into getting my foot on the UX and UI design industry.