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10 Totally Awesome Online Courses in Graphic Design

Graphic Design (like programming) is a complex subject, and I don’t presume I will be able to do it justice here. But if you’ve always wanted to become better at design (web or otherwise), here are some courses you should consider taking, broken down into categories.

Design Foundations

You can’t just learn how to use Photoshop and call yourself a designer. You have to understand how designers approach certain problems, and the role all of the graphical and textual elements play working together to tell a story.

#1 Design Thinking – iversity

design-thinkingA short 4-week cross-disciplinary course on design. Covers the history of design, design today, creativity and storytelling. Not exclusively for designers.

Cost: FREE


#2 Design 101 (or Design Basics) – iversity


This is a lot longer, at 14 weeks covering 3 months. This course seems very interactive, and you’re expected to create designs every week and upload them.

Cost: FREE


#3 2D Design – WEU


Covers visual design, typography, layout, logo design, brand design, color theory, interface design, and design process among other topics.

Cost: FREE


Color Theory

It seems pretty basic, but there are colors that are complementary to each other, and colors that violently contrast. You need to understand the use of color in design.

#4. The Art of Drawing and Painting – Open2Study


A course on color theory. 4 short weeks on this fundamental piece of design knowledge.

Cost: FREE



We sometimes choose fonts arbitrarily, just based on the way they look to us. But some fonts are for large blocks of text, and some fonts are for standing out in a headline. Sometimes you see people mix them up, and boy is that painful on the eyes sometimes.

#5. Foundations of Typography – Lynda.com


You will never look at letter-type again the same way after taking this course. Ina Saltz brings a lot of energy and passion for typography.

Cost: Lynda.com subscription ($25 – $37.50 per month; free preview)


Logos and Brand Design

Unless you are planning to be the next Michelangelo,  you will probably need to apply your design skills at a company. And the very basic skill of the graphic artist at the corporate level is logo and brand design.

#6. Logo Design Basics – Treehouse


Treehouse seems to have a good variety in their design courses. The main focus of the site is programming, as their learning tracks are all focused on that outcome. But there is a good variety of design courses to choose from.

Cost: Treehouse subscription ($25 – $49 per month; free trial)


#7. Foundations of Logo Design – Lynda.com


Von Glitschka is one of my inspirations when it comes to design.

Cost: Lynda.com subscription ($25 – $37.50 per month; free preview)


Usability and User Experience

Believe it or not, many experiences are not designed with the needs of the user as the primary design focus. Many times, a company has a message that it wants to get out, and designs its communications purely to promote their own interests. User-centered design focuses on the needs of the user, understanding what they expect, and giving them what they are looking for as efficiently as possible while not giving them what they don’t need.

#8. Usability Foundations – Treehouse


A beginner course on understanding the art and science of usability.

Cost: Treehouse subscription ($25 – $49 per month; free trial)


#9. User Experience Design Fundamentals – Udemy


This is clearly user-generated content, where a user experience expert has created a series of videos to go over the principles of UX design. The video quality is not up to the same standards of the other sites on this list that are done by professional organizations.
Nonetheless, it gets high reviews on the site and could be a good starting point for a career in this field (or enhancement of design skills.)
Cost: $99 (less with a discount code which are always available)


Web Design

#10. Building a Basic Website – UMass Amherst


This course looks friendly and approachable from a learning HTML and CSS standpoint. You should be able to get your website online after taking this class.

Cost: FREE



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