According to the recent statistics by Payscale, UX designers make an average of $74,568 per year (ranging from $51,000 to $108,000, US). The demand for these professionals grows with each year and the best thing here is that you can get a job in a prestigious company without having a degree.
Where to start? In this Designlab Review and its UX Academy analysis we will consider an e-learning way to get skills in this field.
What is Designlab
It is an online school for gaining UX/UI skills. It basically offers two e-learning products, the long-term UX Academy and a few design-related short courses.
- 1-1 mentorship integrated into the learning
- Group crits to get feedback and learn to provide your own
- Spesific focus on the UX/UI design
- Mentors quality varies
- Job guarantee is questionable
Designlab UX Academy
This is an online program designed to teach all the needed skills for becoming a UX/UI designer. It includes online lessons, projects, 1-on-1 online meetings with a mentor and group calls.
The program consists of two parts,
- Design theory (“Design 101”)
- Hands-on projects (three projects to build up skills and create a portfolio)
If a person already has experience in UX/UI design, the theoretical part can be skipped.
The program takes around 480 hours to complete and can be done in two ways:
- Part-time is 20 hours/week for about 6 months
- Full-time is 40 hours/week for about 4 months
Designlab UX Academy features:
- 3 capstone projects for creating digital product features and a complete design from scratch after
- 1-1 mentorship where you can ask your mentor about your work or job hunting and get the feedback – 12 sessions in total
- Group crits – special format facilitated by a UX Academy graduate or mentor where each student can get feedback on their design.
- Slack community with an active community of designers
- Career services: 1-on-1 career coaching for getting hiring experience (like conducting mock interviews), 24 weeks support for job hunting
- Job guarantee – the company promises to reimburse the tuition if you don’t land a design job within six months of graduating.
What topics UX Academy covers
- Evolution of UX design
- Design thinking
- Usability principles
- UX research methods
- Creating wireframes and prototypes
- Color, typography, icons, and interaction patterns
- Conducting user tests
- Responsive design for multiple devices
All in all, the course consist of 7 theoretical modules of an average of 25 hours each.
UX Academy capstone projects
After the theoretical part, there are three projects:
- Creating responsive web design for mobile, tablet, and desktop breakpoints
- Designing a new feature for an existing product according to the given brand guidelines
- Creating design from scratch for an iOS or Android mobile app
Each capstone project has 80 hours to complete and includes 4 mentor sessions and 4 group crits.
Then, you will receive a certification after passing the portfolio review.
Designlab UX-Academy Mentors
The company has almost 320 mentors who are both field experts and UX-academy graduates. The company claims to hire mentors with at least 3 to 5 years of professional experience. You can choose a mentor based on what they are experienced in: UX Design, UI Design, Visual Design, Interaction Design, Branding. Check the list here. You can switch mentors at any time.
You need to schedule regular weekly meetings with your mentor to review your assignments and ask questions. To make these meetings more effective, you can email your mentor before the session to let them know what you would like to discuss.
Current students and graduates say that the mentoring quality varies a lot as they have different experiences and different levels of knowledge – so you need to make sure you have the right person mentoring you. Many mentors aren’t aware of the curriculum so they won’t be very helpful to answer such questions.
What to discuss with your mentor?
You need to get constructive feedback on your work and ask about moments where you have doubts. For instance, you are not sure how a user would navigate through the page you are creating. Moreover, you can discuss your ideas.
Meanwhile, you can use your time with a mentor to talk about job searching and ask for his/her experience.
How to make sure your mentor is good enough
Ideally, you would answer “Yes” to all the points:
- Your mentor worked as a designer
- Your mentor clearly communicates goals and asks thoughtful questions
- Your mentor gives regular and specific feedback on what could be improved
- Your mentor suggests additional articles, books, and videos based on the student’s interests and skills.
Designlab Group Crits
This feature is a big advantage of the academy. Group Crits are scheduled group discussions with peer students that allow you to present the work you’ve been doing in the course and receive constructive feedback. You need to upload iterations of your work to the Designlab submission platform so others can leave their comments.
There are 12 group sessions within the course. Each session takes 1 hour and is usually facilitated by graduates of the program
The facilitator gives about 10 minutes per student. During this time, each student shares information on their project and receives feedback from their peers.
Designlab Short Courses
Designlab also offers short 4-week long. The company launches new cohorts at the start of every month and you can vote for a new one here.
- Design 101 – A crash course that covers the essential concepts of visual design, like color theory, typography, and layout. This course is a prerequisite course for UX Academy. ($399)
- UI Design – This one shows how to create polished, pixel-perfect interfaces and portfolio-ready prototypes. ($399)
- UX Research and Strategy – The course uncovers how to research unser needs and intent before creating a design. ($399)
- Interaction Design – Understand key interaction design patterns and principles, learn to structure the design of products around the goals of users, and learn to sketch and wireframe your design ideas. ($399)
UX Academy Price
The base price is $6749. All students need to put down a $399-deposit. Then, you pay off the remaining tuition either up-front (without an additional fee) or with monthly payments, starting on the first day of the course.
There are three ways how to pay for the academy:
- Upfront Payment (via PayPal or by credit/debit card). You pay $399 as the first payment and then you need to pay $6,350 (due on 1st day).
- Extended Payment Plan (serviced by Climb Credit) which means you get a loan by Climb Credit and pay on a monthly basis. The conditions depends on the offer you get from Climb Credit (apply here).
- 6-month Payment Plan (serviced by Designlab). Here your payment is split across 6 months where you have 5 payments of $1,075 + 1 payment of $975 (the first one needs to be done on the first day of the Academy). This plan comes with an additional $400 servicing fee.
For all the plans, if you paid for and completed Design 101, you get a $400-discount (which means paying off $5,950 after the deposit payment).
UX Academy Admission Process:
- Once you have requested more information on Designlab, it will be emailed an application.
- Unless you already have some basic design knowledge and a portfolio you can showcase, you’ll be required to take Design 101.
- Pending successful completion of Design 101, you will be approved for UX Academy
- Once you’re ready to enroll, you can choose a cohort up to three months in advance. You need to put down a deposit of $399.
Among the main alternatives to learn UX/UI designer to get into this field are Careerfoundry and Springboard. So, let’s see the comparison table of Careerfoundry vs Designlab vs Springboard.
|Courses||UX/UI Design||UX Design, UI Design, Web Development, Data Analytics||UX Design, UI Design, Data Science, Data Analytics,|
|Peer review||Yes (“Group crits”)||No||No|
|Duration||4-6 months||9 months||10 months|
As you see, Designlab is the cheaper and shortest program. Moreover, it provides a unique feature – group crits that students find very beneficial. This all means that Designlab is a good option to start your career in design.
Here is the full student’s Designlab review from Reddit which we found really useful and published it as-is:
“The curriculum is not super hard, IMO, but if you want to get a lot out of the course, you should do all the extra readings and supplement with videos + readings that are relevant to your projects and what you want to learn. I spent over twice the amount of time they estimated for each unit b/c I wanted to take the time to explore all the suggested readings (and more).
The community is great but, again, it’s what you put effort into. I wanted more regular feedback on my projects, so I organized a small group of 4 students and we meet weekly to discuss our projects (on zoom). This is in addition to my mentor calls + group crits.
Mentor availability varies. I switched mentors twice b/c my first mentor was not giving me any feedback, my second mentor gave me really cookie-cutter feedback that he was copy/pasting to other students, and I really like my current mentor. Again, what you make of it. I like to email my mentor a couple days before our meeting to let her know what I am wanting to chat about and often I use our time to talk about job searching or the industry or ideas I have. You can switch mentors at any time, no questions asked, and I have observed that the mentor quality varies a lot. So, I would suggest defining what you want out of mentorship, communicating that to your mentor, and if you don’t get that….switch.
I talked to so many people before I chose a bootcamp and what everyone said turned out to be quite true: it’s all about what you put into the program. I also am doing extra projects and volunteering with a coding org in my city to work on side projects. Anything you can do to bring your work into the real world and get experience collaborating with people! I chose DL over CF in part because of the group crits- it’s SO useful to learn to talk about your work with people you do not know. It forces you to be clear, succinct, and respond to criticisms from strangers.”