I earned a free certificate from FutureLearn's course. This beginners course on User Experience (UX) focuses on designing, prototyping and testing an efficient and logical mobile app user ...
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I earned a free certificate from FutureLearn’s “Creating a Great User Experience for Mobile Apps“ [ futurelearn.com] course. This beginners course on User Experience (UX) focuses on designing, prototyping and testing an efficient and logical mobile app user interface and underlying user experience. The course is presented by the University of Leeds [ leeds.ac.uk].
If you already have basic mobile UX design and prototyping experience, then there is no need for this course. For everyone else, expect to take away the following things after completing this course:
- You will be acquainted with the basics of Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines [ apple.com] and Google’s Material [ material.io] design system.
- You will be able to create a user journey, screen sketch, and prototype for a mobile app.
- You will understand how and why to test your UX in order to provide the best solution to the problem that your app solves
Who Should Take This Course?
The modern smart phone has become such a common place item and many of the swipes, pinches and swiping gestures we use on a daily basis have become second nature. This course forces you to reexamine the way you use your phone so that you understand the best practices for a great mobile app user experience.
FutureLearn’s “Creating a Great User Experience for Mobile Apps” [ futurelearn.com] is a great foundation to start with, even if you’re new to UX and mobile app design.
This is an entry level two week course that focuses on teaching you the fundamentals of UX for mobile apps. The course has several short videos, a handful of non-graded practice quizzes, and some interactive sketching & prototyping exercises. At the end, there is an exam that you must pass with a 70% or higher to earn a certificate.
What Is Actually Covered In The Course?
The course is divided into two sections: week 1 and week 2. Week 1 is all about introducing concepts while week 2 is about letting you play with those concepts in action.
Here is my breakdown of the course. Week 1 is about theory and is roughly organized like this:
- Orientation and introduction
- A basic overview of how smart phones work
- A look into how we interact with phones through touchscreens and other sensors
- Exploring the design specs from Apple & Google for smart phone apps
- Finding a problem to solve as a method of brainstorming a mobile app idea
- A recap of the first week
As I said, week 1 is largely about theory. Week 2 is about practice and can be summed up as:
- Thinking through and mapping out a user journey
- Sketching out mock screens for each part of the user journey
- Making an interactive prototype from your sketched screens
- Testing your prototype with the appropriate audience to see if it works efficiently
- Final Exam
To be awarded your Certificate of Completion, you need to complete at least 90% of the steps on the course and pass the final exam with a score of 70% or higher. After completion, you still have access to the course materials. You are also emailed a PDF certificate and are issued a URL that you can give out or link to prove the authenticity of your award.
When you start week 2, you will be working on your own mobile app idea. What I choose was an app for this website, LearnOnline.shop, which would connect students to courses that they’re interested in.
That meant I needed to write out the users journey and then use that to make some rough sketches of the screens that would be required.
Completing the Course, Passing the Exam & Getting a Free Certificate
At the time of writing, this course comes with a free digital upgrade which grants you full access to premium features like certificate or completion, interactive exams and more.
If you click on my certificate it will verify that I do hold this certificate:
When you complete this course you will also be issued a PDF certificate as well as a verification link like this one, which will allow you to put your verifiable certificates on your LinkedIn or other online resumes or resources.
Learning About the User’s Journey
While I have actually shipped a handful of mobile apps over the last decade, I am primarily a programmer. While I do have some previous experience creating user interfaces, I must confess that I have spent very little time actually studying UX. This meant that I was actively learning new stuff in this course.
In week 2, I was forced to work on my own mobile phone app idea. I didn’t really have one in mind, so I choose making an app for this website, with the problem that the app sought to fix being “connecting students with the right online courses.”
The course teaches you to think about that problem and solution in terms of “what would be the least number of steps for the user to solve that problem” using my app. We’re supposed to write this down on paper, but I did mine in Photoshop. This is my User Journey for my hypothetical app:
As you can see, it’s pretty simple. You can also kind of imagine what a typical mobile app would do for each of those screens. In fact, sketching out those screens was the next part of the course.
Creating a Screen Sketch of My Mobile App
The next step is take each step of our user journey and create a screen sketch for it. You can draw these on paper, print out and use these mock phone sketch pads [ marvelapp.com] or do what I did and sketch the mock screens directly in Photoshop:
I only had 4 screens to sketch out because one of my 5 screens was the user’s web browser. I did kind of skimp on the small details, mainly because I have no intention of actually making this app right now. However, I wanted to participate in the course as much as possible to really get the full benefit from taking the course.
Creating a Mobile Prototype Using the Marvel App
After we have our mock up screens, the next step is to test them. The course spent a good portion of time diving into who, where, when, why and how you need to test your UX.
In order to test the flow of the app so far, the next part of the course has me take my screen sketches and make them into an interactive demo using the free Marvel app. Using this app, I was able to simulate the workflow of this app by defining buttons and links to other pages of the prototype.
Concluding Thoughts on the “Creating a Great User Experience for Mobile Apps” Course
I started this course thinking “what can I really learn, afterall, I’ve created a handful of mobile apps already!” Turns out, I could’ve developed those apps better, had happier users, and spent about the same amount of development time had I simply used the foundational UX techniques that are taught in this course.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is new to mobile development or who have an app idea of their own that they want to make a reality. This course will give you a lot of the starting resources and knowledge needed to come up with the right app idea, and then develop the best user experience to make your app easy and fun to use.
If you’re already familiar with mobile UX, user journeys, screen sketches and UI prototyping, then you should skip this course. Everyone else who is interested in entering the world of mobile app development, take this course now.
Thanks for reading this review. This is both the perfect course for those completely new to mobile UX and also a complete waste of time if you’re already happily making efficient UX. If you’ve taken the course and would like to share your experience, please leave your review below. Keep learning and growing!