Designlab UX Academy Review
According to recent statistics by Payscale, UX designers make an average of $74,568 per year (ranging from $51,000 to $108,000, the 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 UX Academy review, we will help you make an informed decision about whether this company and its design course is a good way for getting into the field.
What is Designlab
Designlab is an e-learning company offering a comprehensive program for gaining UX/UI skills. Its main product is UX Academy, an online 4 to 6-month school for learning the full cycle of UX online. The company also features a few design-related short courses.
The company was founded in 2014 by Daniel Shapiro and Harish Venkatesan, who is a current CEO of the company.
What is 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.
- 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
The program consists of three phases:
- The first part is UX/UI Design Essentials where you’ll learn theory. It takes 7 to 14 weeks to finish this part.
- Then, you’ll have three projects to build up skills and create a portfolio (takes 7 to 15 weeks). They include such assignments as Responsive Web Pages, Mobile App, and Feature-based design.
- The final part is career support to find a job after the Academy.
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
Here are the main features of UX Academy by Designlab:
- 3 capstone projects for building skills and creating a portfolio
- 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–a 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 of support for job hunting
UX Academy price
The base price is $7,249. 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 $7,249 (due on the 1st day).
- 6 Monthly Payments Plan (serviced by Designlab). The total cost is $7,649 but here your payment is split across 6 months where you have 5 payments of $1,208/mo.
- Flexible Long Term Financing plan (serviced by Climb Credit) which means you get a loan by Climb Credit and pay on a monthly basis. The total cost is $8,091 – $9,677 with monthly payments of 218-253/mo. The conditions depend on the offer you get from Climb Credit (apply here) but it’s only available for US residents.
UX Academy curriculum
When signing up for the program, you can choose between full-time and part-time studying. The only difference between the two is that in the first case, you will study more intensely and finish on the 15th week. In the second case, you’ll graduate from the Academy on the 30th week.
|Topic||Number of |
|Number of |
|1||1||What is UX and UI design||17||5|
|2||2-3||User research, |
including user interview
|3||4-5||1. Brainstorming techniques |
for deciding on a product idea
2. Information architecture,
including content strategy, and sitemap diagramming
including task and user flows with
fundamentals of usability and accessibility
|5||8-9||Basics of branding, typography, color theory,|
|6||10-11||Prototyping and testing||16||10|
|7-14||15-28||3 capstone projects:|
Responsive Web Design
Adding A Feature
UX Academy capstone projects
After the theoretical part, there are three projects:
- Responsive Web Design: Creating responsive web design for mobile, tablet, and desktop breakpoints
- Adding A Feature: Designing a new feature for an existing product according to the given brand guidelines
- End-to-End Application: 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.
The company recommends to use either Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD for working on the projects.
Designlab UX-Academy Mentors
The company has almost 500 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 initiate calls with your mentor and 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 when 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.
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 UX Academy Foundations course (4-8-week introductory course).
- Then, submit a short application for UX Academy.
- Lastly, you need to put down a deposit of $399.
Designlab UX Academy reviews
To provide you with a wider picture, we have collected Reddit reviews from former Designlab students.
The students mostly say that the curriculum and the program overall were quite a positive experience but you need to do a lot of extra work to get the results.
“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).“
“Overall it was a great choice for me! I learned a ton, came away with a great portfolio with 4 solid case studies, and it also didn’t break the bank. I was able to finance the tuition and pay it off over 3 years. There are so many ways to get into UX but this was a great choice for me since I wanted something very structured and wanted to learn from experienced people in the field. Let me know if you have any more questions!”
“I completed the design lab bootcamp last April . I started applying to jobs around March and I ended up landing a position designing for healthcare by the end of April (my prior experience was a clinician at a hospital). My experience with design lab was extremely positive. I felt supported along the way and definitely felt like I was learning as much as I could from a bootcamp. The structure of the classes, the group critiques, and mentors were all super helpful. All that being said, I did feel like me finding a job was at least 80% luck.”
A lot of reviews on Designlab UX Academy emphasize that group crits are probably the best feature offered by the company. Also, a lot of them discussed mentors–here you can see both positive and negative experiences.
“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.”
“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 did DesignLab full time. My mentors were really great, personally. But I’ve heard mixed reviews from others. I didn’t feel very connected to other peers but I didn’t really put myself out there”
Designlab short courses
While the main offering by Designlab is packed in its UX Academ, the company also features five shorter courses. There are four courses for beginners and one advanced course. These are 4-week-courses for beginners and cost $399:
- 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.
- UI Design. This one shows how to create polished, pixel-perfect interfaces and portfolio-ready prototypes.
- UX Research and Strategy. The course uncovers how to research user needs and intent before creating a design.
- 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.
This 6-week advanced course costs $1,499 and is best for middle-level designers:
5. Data-Driven Design. The courses covers fundamentals of Data-Driven Design, working with data and other teams a well as stakeholders, and also running experiments.
You can find their list here–just scroll down to the bottom of the page.
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.
As you see, Designlab is little cheaper than Careerfoundry but is much cheaper than Springboard. However, 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.
|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|
Designlab has a lot of positive reviews and it is worth it if you want to get a job in UX/UI design.
Designlab short courses cost $399 and the lowest price for its UX Academy is $7,249 which is cheaper than main competitors, Careerfoundry but its much cheaper than Springboard.
There are many companies that offer UX/UI courses but among the main Designlab competitors are Careerfoundry and Springboard.
Short courses by Designlab are fully self-paced and Designlab UX Academy is also flexible but you have a study plan by weeks you should stick to.