CareerFoundry vs Bloc vs DesignLab


#1

Hi Everyone,
I’ve been researching various online UX/UI boot camps like bloc.io, Career Foundry and DesignLabs. Just wanted to hear from students that are currently in the program or recently finished the programs to understand your thoughts/recommendations. Here are some of my hesitations:

Career Foundry: The tools they focus on for UI are: invision, optimizely, sketch, visual website optimizer and for UX it is: uxpin, crazyegg, pandadoc, user testing, google analytics. Are these standard tools that UX/UI designers use? I thought Balsamiq, Azure, Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator were standards - so the fact that CF tools are different is a turnoff. Can someone confirm what tools/applications would be ideal for a UI designer and a UX designer.

DesignLab-UX Academy: Still relatively new, so haven’t see too many reviews yet.

Bloc.io - Designer Track: Seems like the ‘unicorn’ combination of UI, UX and Front End development. Do they explain/teach some of the main tools for Photoshop/Sketch, etc or do they assume you know how to use the tools? I heard the front end is more focused on JavaScript - so you should already know HTML/CSS

Sorry for the long post - it’s hard to know which programs are good, even after reading all the reviews on this site, coursereport, etc.

Also - has anyone considered a Masters in UX Design / Human Computer Interaction. I’ve seen some online programs with Kent State University, DePaul and Iowa State. If anyone has any recommendations/thoughts to share - that would be awesome!

Thanks!
pc


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#2

I’m currently in the Career Foundry UX program. Some of the information you have is incorrect but I understand why. Some of the information about the course they have posted online is outdated.

In the UX program students can use Sketch, Illustrator, Balsamiq, Photoshop or whatever they want. The course doesn’t actually teach you these tools - they only suggest ones you might use to complete a particular assignment. (they sometimes link to websites or articles on using particular tools but they don’t teach any of the tools themselves - they just expect you pick it up as you go along)

I’ve used mostly Sketch, Invision, Photoshop and a tiny bit of Illustrator for wireframing and design to complete my course assignments.

Yes they also touch on using Google Analytics for metrics and a variety of other tools for research including Survey Monkey, Optimal Workshop and a few others. For Prototyping the course’s written material talks about using UXPin but most students I know are using InVision or Azure or something else instead, as there have been lots of complaints from students saying UXPin is unwieldy and not user friendly…like I said, I have been using Invision my whole time on the course and have never opened UXPin during that time.

I hope that helps you get a better picture of what CF is like PC


#3

Hi @pchheda16 – welcome!

You need to talk to @jdebari. Julia mentors at UX Academy, CareerFoundry, and Springboard, as well as teaching UX part time at General Assembly.


#4

Thanks so much for the response and clarifying the tools (their website is outdated)!

In general are you enjoying the UX course and believe it’s worthwhile? What made you choose CareerFoundry over other online schools?


#5

Thanks! I was more interested in hearing from actual students at these schools.


#6

Understood. The value of hearing from Julia is that she works for all of them so can likely give you a fairly unbiased view on what might work best given your requirements.

It would be great if others chipped in with their personal experiences too. :slight_smile:


#7

This is going to sound a bit strange but while I am not a big fan of the cf ux course content I think if you treat it as a structured self learning opportunity you CAN get good value from the course… And this is mainly because of the student community and their unique job in 6 months guarantee.


#8

That’s interesting! I agree the community and mentors are key - however I’m surprised to hear you are not a fan of the UX course content…can you expand on that?

Do you feel the content is outdated, not clear, not detailed enough? Just want to understand.

DesignLabs has a new UX Academy for a similar price and offer a 6 month job guarantee (or money back)…so it’s very similar in terms of price/terms as CareerFoundry. But it’s still relatively new and hard to find reviews/feedback.

Is CareerFoundry well know in the US? I believe in Europe it might be more established and known amongst recruiters/professionals…but I haven’t seen too many people in the US on Linkedin that have CareerFoundry listed (as opposed to General Assembly, Bloc, etc).


Designlab's new UX Academy program
#9

The CF content is not well organized and not well thought out. Some task are presented in reverse order (like having you create a digital prototype based upon your wireframes and AFTER THAT going back to creating more paper prototypes - totally backwards) Too many of the assignments feel unnecessarily repetitive or “filler” while more important UX concepts are not touched on at all or just barely.

Even some of the mentors don’t understand the course completely or why students are being asked to do certain things. As a student you are often left going “huh?” It’s clear that they’ve been modifying the course content over time (because you can still see mentions of software and other things that are clearly left overs from earlier material that wasn’t removed) but I think they really need someone from outside the company who is a professional trainer and UXer to do a rewrite.

The mentoring program is all over the place, I can understand it’s difficult from the CF point of view when the mentors are working professionals doing the CF gig on the side.

The major design activity is to create Taskly, a task and project management app. These types of apps can get very complicated, you really need to dig into the business rules. Many of the students are finding Taskly “boring” or “frustrating” - some mentors allow you to choose something else to work on while other mentors refuse to allow it so there is no consistency. For me, personally, Taskly is fine, yes it’s challenging but I appreciate that.

Despite all these issues - overall it still works for me but I honestly couldn’t recommend it to someone unless they understand what to expect. Are other UX bootcamps any better? I don’t know. General Assembly sounds great but it’s waaaay too expensive for most people.


#10

Wow - this is very helpful and I appreciated the candid review of CareerFoundry @SteveCrow

Hope people that took the DesignLabs UX Academy course or Bloc Designer Track can chime in and provide perspective/reviews.


#11

@SteveCrow I think had some great points that I agree with. CF is updating their curriculum and the interface for the program regularly. CF does mention a lot of tools, but they don’t teach any. It’s up to you to learn as you go and because of that you can pick the ones that work best for you. I would say that there aren’t any “standard” tools right now that UX Designers use. :slight_smile: I wouldn’t worry about the tools as your mentor is flexible and will help you with whatever you decide to use.

If you want to focus on UX/UI design I would suggest Sketch and InVision/Marvel. But if you’re really into Adobe products there is Adobe XD. Axure has a bit of a learning curve. Also, the tools you use are frequently decided by the team you work with. Being a UX Designer is a lot of learning new tools quickly. :slight_smile:

DesingLab’s UX Academy gives you more projects then CF does (CF is only one project after 6 months).
Bloc.io - they don’t each any tools either and expect you to pick up what you need to know as you go along.

Hope that helps a bit! @pchheda16


#12

Another comparison question… I have a design background and have done a lot of self-study. I’m looking for an intermediate level online program with a mentor. I work long hours so I can only commit about 10 hours a week. If anyone has any insight or experience with the following programs I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thinkful - it may be too basic and it looks like you only do one project.

Coursera - no mentor, but it looks like a meaty class

Lynda - and maybe get an outside mentor

Springboard - has mentors and a community

Stanford U - Human Computer Interaction class, I did a couple of their local classes and really liked them.

General Assembly has a “UX Design Circuit” but I don’t have a very positive opinion of them and haven’t heard anything about the course.

I excluded the expensive ones. I’ve had a couple of online courses that were supposed to have mentors, but the mentor never engaged. What if you pay for a course and they never show or aren’t any good? I’m starting to think I may be better off doing the courses on my own and hiring a UX tutor for ck in sessions.

Has anyone tried that or any of the options above?

I’ve got two graduate degrees in design so some of the long programs have too much general info that I don’t want to pay for again. I’m just looking for the UX specific info and I need to do more portfolio projects.

FYI If anyone needs a decent free UX Fundamentals course, the Aquent Gymnasium course was good and I got a nice portfolio piece out of it.

There aren’t a lot of Creative Live courses, but the few they have are excellent. They’re free if you catch them during a scheduled broadcast.

Thanks in advance for any input you can offer.


#13

@tcsfo You might want to try the courses from The Team W, Susan W. She has video courses, which are really good. She also offers mentorship with an advanced certificate. You need to have your own projects to work on, so nothing for a portfolio, but they’re good courses for UX specific topics.

The Coursera Specialization in HCI is really good. You get some portfolio pieces and I think now they are offering mentors as well.

Springboard might be worth a try just to focus on UX specific topics.

Hope that helps!


#14

Hey @jdebari,

How do you rate bloc.io vs UX Academy, CareerFoundry, and Springboard?


#15

Hi @anton_rose,

I don’t have any personal experience with Bloc.io. I’d like to mentor there. :slight_smile:
But from what I have read and heard from other people, I definitely think it is a good option. If you have no prior design or front-end coding experience I know it can be rough. Just a lot of work, but I hear the mentors are really good and you learn key skills for being a product designer, more than a “typical” UX designer.


#16

Thanks for the feedback @jdebari,

Yeah, it sounds great from what I’ve read. I’ve got no prior design experience but I’m actually keen on a course that is extremely “rough” because it will force you to learn by doing. I’m a little worried that their course is light on UX material. Got this reply from Juline:


My question:
Going through the checkpoints on the Designer Track and UX/UI Fundamentals it looks a little light on UX elements if I compare it to the CareerFoundry UX course. e.g.

User-Centered Design
Interaction Design & Heuristics of Usability
Develop SMART business goals and SMART user goals
Task Models & Customer Experience Maps
Information Architecture (Card Sorting)
UX Design Principles and best practice

Are these concepts covered at all?

Juline reply: We do cover those concepts. You can find a list of design concepts covered here and perks included here.


This doesn’t really answer my question


#17

Hi @anton_rose,

I looked through the syllabus for the bloc.io course and it does seem a little light on UX specific topics. From what I gathered they may teach Develop SMART business goals and SMART user goals and User-Centered Design, but maybe not specifics such as Information Architecture, card sorting, etc.

Have you looked into DesignLab’s specific courses? They are 4 - 6 weeks around a specific UX topic. Maybe you could try one of those and see if you like it and then go from there?

(She didn’t really answer your question. :slight_smile: )


#18

Hi again @anton_rose,

I actually should have been more clear… Were you looking at the UX/UI course or the Designer Track from Bloc.io? Those are 2 different things. :slight_smile: I think the Designer Track might be more what you want as the syllabus is more comprehensive.

Hopefully that helps!


#19

Hey @jdebari,

Yeah, had a look at DesignLab - may be an option to test the waters.

I was looking at both Bloc.io courses. The UX stuff seems to be similar on both. Designer Track is quite expensive!

Big help - thanks!


#20

tl;dr - Designlab UX Academy changed my life for the better and I highly recommend it!

I believe I can weigh in on Designlab’s UX Academy. I was part of their first cohort and now I have a job as a UX designer for an extremely large and well-known company. The program was everything that I expected it to be. This is probably going to sound like paid advertisement but I assure you I’m writing this on my own will. I truly felt like I would not be as successful as I am now if it wasn’t for this bootcamp.

I have a background in customer service and graphic design (self-taught). When I decided that I wanted to do UX full-time, I only had a little bit of work experience doing it (no title, but had a lot of related duties at a startup). I finally decided to research UX bootcamps and like you, found a lot of different options.

The 6 month job guarantee that Designlab offers really appealed to me. It lets me know their goal aligns with mine. Also, the price was right - not too expensive and not too cheap (I get suspicious of those).

When I reached out to them, Harish (co-founder) called me directly to learn more about my needs and answered ALL the questions I had. I’m typically a fairly skeptical person (e.g., I just spend 3 hours last night looking for the perfect backpack to buy) but I signed up immediately afterwards.

What I loved about the program:

  • Access to mentors on a weekly basis and to the other students through Slack.
  • Direct access to people who created the curriculum and to the founders themselves.
  • Self-guided curriculum with semi-flexible deadlines (you work it out with your mentor)
  • Career guidance and access to recruiters and the like
  • End product includes a portfolio with 2-3 capstone projects to be hire-ready

Onto the curriculum. I imagine all the bootcamps cover the basics:

  • Fundamentals of design (including a special focus on visual design)
  • Design tools
  • Research and ideation
  • Prototyping
  • Interaction design
  • Usability testing
  • UI Design
    Designlab also presents guided optional material that’s not required but definitely worth exploring. I just love that they provide as much material as they can and you can decide what to do with it.

The most awesome part are the capstone projects. They give you a few design briefs you can work off of but you’re pretty much free to work on whatever projects you want. These are products that you would take from research all the way through prototyping. You really have to hustle, but I feel like I came out of it as a friggin’ pro. The confidence I had from completing 3 capstone projects in the span of 2 months (I took the 6-month track) really propelled me forward into the job hunt. I immediately started to look for jobs after that and through several contacts (including one through Harish), I received several interviews and a few offers in just a month of job hunting. I’m not saying this is the average. Actually, I have no idea since the program is relatively new. I just know that it was pure confidence in my skills and my portfolio pieces that got me the amazing job I have now and I would not have gotten that if it wasn’t for UX Academy.

I wrote a lot but I still feel like I didn’t cover everything so feel free to reach out if you have any questions!