Img licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 SA-BY. Credit Scott Lewis for


Or something like that. I'm imagining a Google themed boxing match and I get the feeling that it doesn't quite align with their brand positioning.

A little preamble.

8 or 9 months ago I began my UX/UI journey.

I didn't just throw down a bunch of cash at the first online course that came my way. No. One of my biggest weaknesses is "Shopping around", I will spend hours, days, weeks, researching the best way for me to complete a task or purchase. I started with free online articles at places like Medium, AJ&Smart and UXCollective. Next, I moved on to youtube videos. Then came books, my first being "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman. By this time in my research I had decided that I want to pursue this career deeper and invest more than just my time.

But I was not prepared to invest the absurd amounts of cash that Bootcamps were charging. Plus, everyone loves an underdog story. Who needs a job guarantee anyway.

During this time, murmurs on the internet spoke of an affordable UX course that Google was producing with Coursera. Aimed at the general market and hoping to replace the Bootcamp situation.

I was, of course, very interested.

But during my search, I had also come across another highly reputable and affordable source, the Interaction Design Foundation. They were closely aligned with big names in the industry (Don Norman, IDEO, and many more) but in the end, I signed up for the Google course as it seemed to better fit my needs.

Since then I have spent time using both services and can pass on some information that I have gained during my studies.

I will be pitting the courses against each other in 5 categories:

  1. Structure
  2. Method of Delivery
  3. Accessibility
  4. Quality
  5. Value

So, without further ado, the service on the left, weighing in at 300 billion pounds...

Google's UX Design Professional Certificate in conjunction with Coursera

Debuting in 2021 with much excitement we have the Google UX course, this one has really been game-changing for a lot of people new or curious about the industry. Linkedin activity in the UI/UX related pages have soared since the release of this course and it continues to power ahead.


Difficulty level: Beginner

Delivery: 100% online

Cost: US$39/per month

Time: 6 months at the recommended 10hrs per week

At your own pace: Yes

Industry recognised certificate: Yes

The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF) Membership

With over 20 years of experience in delivering Human-Centred design education. Not for Profit IxDF has a membership model that is designed for both amateurs and experts in the field.


Difficulty level: Beginner through to expert resources

Delivery: 100% online

Cost: AUS$23 per month (this is a US$16/17 per month) To be paid 12 months in full

Time: Each class is different and there are many (around 10-18 hrs per course over around 5-6 weeks)

At your own pace: Yes (mostly)

Industry recognised certificate: Yes


Google's UX Design Professional Certificate

Google's certificate is presented through the learning platform Coursera, a well-known platform with a wide range of courses available from Universities to private companies. As a part of your membership plan, you will also gain access to many of Coursera's other courses.

The UX certificate is presented through a straightforward 7 parts:

1. Foundations of User Experience (UX) Design

2. Start the UX Design Process: Empathize, Define, and Ideate

3. Build Wireframes and Low-Fidelity Prototypes

4. Conduct UX Research and Test Early Concepts

5. Create High-Fidelity Designs and Prototypes in Figma

6. Responsive Web Design in Adobe XD

7. Design a User Experience for Social Good & Prepare for Jobs

Each of these parts is broken down into learning weeks so that you can follow along at the recommended pace, or you are free to move ahead at your own pace. I personally found that I could move ahead quickly.

The classes contain a mix of video and text-based information, at the end of each week, there is either a graded quiz or a peer-reviewed assignment (graded by 2 of your peers, you must also grade at least 2 assignments yourself).

The idea is that you learn at your own pace while the Google instructors guide you through the process, you then implement what you have learned and then you get to interact with your fellow peers.

At the end of 6 months (or earlier), you will have a set of 7 certificates, a course certificate (that can be shared on Linkedin) 3 portfolio pieces and a portfolio site.

Google's structure is straightforward, presented in order and delivered in order. The student gains a great understanding of what is required.

The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF) Membership

An IxDF membership grants a student access to the whole library that the IxDF has to offer. There are many courses that IxDF provides, but to aid a new student they present recommended learning structures that a student can take.

For example, a UX student can undertake the path which helps them to become a UX Designer in 14 courses broken down into 4 parts. These are:

Foundation (2 courses)

User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide

Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide

UX Designer Beginner (5 courses)

Human-Computer Interaction - HCI

Become a UX Designer from Scratch

Journey Mapping

Data-Driven Design: Quantitative Research for UX

Design for the 21st Century with Don Norman

UX Designer Intermediate (3 courses)

UI Design Patterns for Successful Software

User Research – Methods and Best Practices

Agile Methods for UX Design

UX Designer Advanced (4 courses)

Mobile User Experience (UX) Design

Emotional Design — How to Make Products People Will Love

UX Management: Strategy and Tactics

Accessibility: How to Design for All

But there are many courses that are also not included in this list, I'm also undertaking a course in UI Design and Gestalt Psychology. There are also classes on Project Management and others in Marketing. There are suggested paths for multiple positions (Product Designer, Project Management, Marketing).

A student can choose which classes and when to enrol. Let's say you aren't interested in learning the fundamentals as you've already read a bunch and want to get straight into Becoming a UX Designer from Scratch. You can do that. You could do the whole course backwards if you wanted (I know it's tempting, but don't do this).

A student signs up for a class (which has limited availability, but I am yet to have come across a class that I could not get into). The Student can then access the first part of the lesson. The class is often broken up into 5 or 6 chunks and each is released about a week after the class date rolls over. So you get weekly releases. This does mean that you cannot power ahead. The way this is combated is that a student can begin multiple classes. this feels a lot more like University, where you take a few different classes at a time to get you to your goal.

The classes use both video, text and task-based content, with regular short quizzes and tasks which require a paragraph or two of information (These are graded by IxDF professionals).

A student gains a percentage towards their certificate for each correct answer. Get 70% correct, you get a certificate (also shareable on Linkedin) and get 90% you get a distinction certificate to show off as well (it physically hurts when I get a question wrong, I want those damned distinctions!)

An IxDF membership is more freeform which allows a student to pick and choose and is more like a University/College structure of multiple classes at once (if you like).

Method of Delivery

Google's UX Design Professional Certificate

Google's course is presented through the Coursera portal.

Lessons are presented in order and are a mix of video, text and quiz-based learning.

Each Part is led by a different Googler who is a professional in the UX field

Taken from the Google UX Design Certificate video on youtube

Each instructor is lovely and charming. I would say that there is more video content than text-based (in general). There are also interviews with other Googlers and their journeys.

At the end of the week, there will be a quiz to help you remember what you've learned. Further, into the course, your end of week task will be to implement your weekly work with a project that Google guides you through. The student then shares their work with two peers who will then have the opportunity to grade and give feedback.

The peer-review system means that a student must share something to continue. During my time with the course, I tried to give detailed feedback on others work and share what could be improved. But in all honesty, I rarely got this in return. Sometimes it would be nothing, other times "Very good!" or "I like it.". Sometimes the assignments that I received to review were of very poor quality. I really wanted other students to care about what was in front of them. In my experience giving and sharing feedback is extremely helpful, but, hey, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Mostly delivered through video and readings the course is straightforward. The peer review system isn't as fruitful as I wish it was.

The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF) Membership

As mentioned before the IxDF membership gives more freedom and flexibility with course choices.

It's a long way to the bottom, but you can tackle multiple courses at once

Once a student enters a course they are free to begin the first part.

The first part of the course which takes maybe 30mins appears at the beginning of all courses and it is a rundown on how the course will be presented, with a few small quizzes at the end of each page.

This is fine the first time, but having done 3 or 4 of these they are a bit annoying and don't feel necessary to complete for each new class, but they are necessary to complete as they are worth almost 10% in total of the course completion grade.

The course then begins with a mix of video and text-based content. I feel that there is more text content in the IxDF course than the google course, this once again feels more like a University/College style of learning. There is certainly a mix, but this sways more in that direction. I personally really like this as I love to read. That's not to say that the IxDF does not have videos, there are plenty!

The video content is a mix of instructors and videos from exterior sources, in particular, I loved the IDEO content in the Design Thinking course, inspiring stuff.

After finishing the weekly work the Student has to wait for the next week's work to be released. I can assume that this is so that the IxDF pros can mark the courses and that a student doesn't just burn through a course and come out the other end with little knowledge retention.

I'm in two minds about this. I can't drive ahead (which I want to do) but it does mean that I can undertake multiple learning streams at once, which feels good, the same way that College or University learning feels good. It means that the mind makes connections in different directions. It gels well with me, and the restraint is probably a good thing for me.


Google's UX Design Professional Certificate

The course contains a lot of video and text-based learnings. All videos come with transcripts and the language is very easy to understand.

The method of delivery is often slow, this is fantastic for those who do not speak English as a first language (both of these courses are only currently available in English). The Language is simple and concepts are explained very clearly.

As a native English speaker, I found the delivery a bit too slow and would watch all of the videos sped up. But it didn't really have a great effect on me. If things are slower for accessibility then that is a wonderful thing for the world.

The course will require the free download of Figma and XD, which is great that they are available free to use said programs. The course even includes a Figma student subscription included which is nice.

Animation is regularly used in the video content which helps to explain topics.

Templates are also made available throughout the course to help organise your research and work.

The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF) Membership

This course contains a mix of video and text-based learnings. All videos come with transcripts and the language is easy to understand.

The method of delivery here sometimes feels academic in nature, I would guess that's because many who are a part of the IxDF team are academics themselves.

I love the readings, but I would consider them a little more difficult to read than the Google course. I am a big fan of this, as this is. a helpful path for me to be on in this stage of my career (still new) but I would have some concerns about the language used if thinking about those whose first language is not English, or whose grasp of English is not at a moderate level. Obviously, I am not in a position to speak for these people.

I have not yet come across a situation where specific programs are expected (Figma, XD) but as both suit free use, I cannot see many problems for the future.


Google's UX Design Professional Certificate

Needless to say, the quality of Google's videos are top-notch, the information is well structured.

But I must say, the Coursera platform is not fantastic, at times I was unsure of where to click and what exactly to do next (Which is odd given it's a UX course)

Animations are great, the whole thing is presented in Google's branding elements, each instructor occupying a Google colour (a nice touch)

The biggest downer in quality is the peer review system, I received some shockers in my time. I was often disappointed when a peer-reviewed assignment came back, with full marks and no feedback, the other student had obviously just ticked all the boxes and moved on.

The teaching and resource quality is great, starting off at a very easy base level and guiding a user through.

The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF) Membership

Don Norman, What's not to love

IxDF videos are often not as high resolution, nor do they have flashy animations. But their resources are absolutely fantastic. I mean, they have a whole course with Don Norman leading it. The IDEO resources are absolutely inspiring.

Once again it feels more like University/College. Concepts are explained very well and aren't difficult. But the instructors often discuss questions about things like, What does it mean to BE a designer..? How can Design change the world? How your experience makes a difference.

Not that Google does not do this. But when you've got Don Norman handing the keys to you and inspiring global change it is hard to argue.

the colours aren't as flashy, but the content and people involved are inspiring.


Google's UX Design Professional Certificate

Google's course can be completed for around $300. Which is MADNESS in comparison to the price of a UX Bootcamp. Although the UX Course does not have a job guarantee nor the same resources.

But learning UX and coming out the other end of the course with 3 projects for $300 is crazy. I love the age we are living in right now where education can be affordable.

It can even be done for less if you power through. Or it can cost more, it really is up to you.

At the end of the course you receive your certificate, there's some help in where to start when applying for work.

When you are done, you stop paying and move on.

Try getting a job and continue your study/get an internship or something, now this isn't a bad thing. You have your certificate, but that's it.

One other thing worth mentioning is that what you are learning in this course is Google's way of doing UX, many small companies where you will begin work may not employ you as a UX specialist, you may be also be doing digital design or management.

Great value, but limited value.

The Interaction Design Foundation (IxDF) Membership

They gave me a certificate for giving them money. Cuteeee.

The IxDF's yearly cost was about AUS$276 (about A$200). But had to be paid yearly. I did not love this, but I'd done enough research to know I wanted this. I also received a discount for the end of the year. But if you would like a discount on an IxDF membership just use my link here ( and you'll get a free 2 months or $120 off boot camps (I receive a free month if you sign up using my code, I am not paid by the IxDF in any way)

So that brings the price down by about 20%.

The way in which the membership differs is that a member has access to heaps more courses than the Google course, it also grants access to their online communities and forums where members can set up local meetups. We hear about the importance of networking and the IxDF is attempting to facilitate that. The Melbourne chapter is not particularly active, so I would love to see more of that!

It also grants access to Masterclasses, webinars presented by experts in the field, for example, AR/VR or webinars on Storytelling through visual cues. These look fantastic and I am looking forward to seeing more.

An IxDF membership is something that I see myself purchasing again next year as more courses become available and I work further into the field. The forums seem like a great place to post work for honest and productive feedback from professionals. I have also seen jobs posted here. This is very valuable to someone new in the field.

The education is specific in each class, but the learning across classes is broad. This is helpful as the teaching focuses on the fundamentals, this can be transferred cross-industry.

Great value and one I intend to continue with whilst I am a part of the industry. A great membership. Also not for profit, which is great.

The Takeaway

Look, both courses are really great and I love seeing learning shifting from our established institutions and the democratisation of education.

They are both of great value.

The Google UX course seems more accessible and it is very slick and well put together, a great place to start. But once it ends, it ends. Not only that, you are learning Google's way.

The IxDF membership is a bit more freeform and your learning may be a bit more spread out, but it is also a fantastic place to start. Where its strengths lie is that it isn't just a great place to start. It's a great place to stay, as there is always more to learn and there is a worldwide community.

It is highly unlikely that I will return to the Google UX course, as I didn't finish the full thing. Even if I did, I wouldn't cancel my IxDF membership.

Will either of these courses get you a job? No. But it's a great start and the IxDF membership may be what you need to continue your studies further.

Maybe you're like me and want to try both. Maybe you start with Google and then continue on with the IxDF.

Maybe you look at the above statement and think "Man, this Tom guy is a dumbass and should pick one or the other".

To which I say.

Get back to class.

You've got a world to improve.

I'm not an IxDF shill, but, if you want a discount, use this link and you'll get 2 months off membership and I'll receive one month. Or don't. See if I care.

On that. The IxDF also has boot camps. Do three and receive a Job Guarantee. I would love to check these out, but currently, they are around AU$2400 each, which is very cheap in comparison to GA or other boot camps, but you will need to complete three to get the job guarantee.