Udacity’s UX for Mobile Developers – Review

Now, first of all let me tell you that I have never done any online course before. I knew about Udemy, Code Academy and even Coursera (where I was planning to start one) but Udacity’s course caught my attention because the lecturers are employees from Google. Another reason that grabbed my attention was the fact that it was about User Experience with a focus on Android, a theme that I am passionate about but which I have never seen in any other website.

In this blog post I will write about my experience with Udacity’s UX For Mobile Developers online course, to be more precise I am going to talk about their lessons, quizzes, assignments, etc.

“In this short course, you’ll step back from your IDE and dive into the techniques that great designers use to plan and prototype amazing apps before any code is written”

This is the course’s summary with an approximate completion time of 4 weeks with 6hr/week work commitment. I was (and still am) working full-time as an android developer, taking driving lessons, having English lessons twice a week and, indeed, I took exactly that amount of time to complete the course. I would say you don’t need that much time to finish the course.
Additionally, the fact that I have had an idea for the final project since the beginning saved me a certain amount of time.

Now, about the content itself. I can easily say that the best part of the course are its lessons. The videos have an average duration of 2 minutes or less which is perfect because you don’t have to spend a lot of time on watching them. We can basically watch them any time of a day without getting distracted because each one finishes in no time. In my opinion, if the videos took longer than 4 or 5 minutes, I would have no patience to go through all the lessons.

At the end of some of the lessons, the student is asked to take a quiz (a multiple choice one or one in which you need to enter the answer). This helped me feel that I am actually working on something and not just watching videos all the time. Even if you fail the quiz the system explains why your answers were incorrect (therefore you learn also thanks to a failure).

As far as I know, the assignments at the end of each lesson are only available for the course subscription members (150$/month) who I was and still am at the moment.
Together with the subscription, you will get a full-time udacity’s coach that promptly writes you an email asking whether you need something that he can help with. In the same email he asks you if you whether you want to make a brief Skype call so that he can help you reach your goals in a more effective way. My coach was Jay Harman and one week after the first call, he wrote me to know how my progress was going and asked me whether there was something he could do for me, which is great.

Now back to the assignments. This part is a bit different from the rest of the lessons. The assignment videos are made by the course designer (in this case, Andy Brown) and they are where the real work starts. In the majority of the assignments, you will be asked to analyze, compare and answer how to improve high rated and low rated apps. You will be also asked to do prezi presentations about the topics of the lessons, which usually doesn’t take you longer than 15/20 minutes to do, and some of them take even less time.

However, when you reach the end of lesson 2, you start to work on your final project. It consists of a prezi presentation for an app that you have to design, and in which you need to apply everything you have learnt. Since this is something on which you spend more time during the course, the lecturers encourage you to share your answers with the community on the forums, in order to promote the discussion and learn each other’s ideas.

Final thoughts

I can honestly say that I really enjoyed participating in this course. Topics such as low-res wireframes, personas,use cases, context awareness, etc. are a powerful tool for any developer that wants to make their apps more engaging and immersive. Simple changes such as ‘Google+ sign in’ as opposed to a sign in form make a huge difference to the user. In one of the assignment you even learn how much an app would (approximately) improve its rating if it had respected the mobile constraints.

However, I think there still remains a room left for an improvement. The fact that we have learnt all the concepts through designing an app from the ground up (the pizza app) during the lessons was a great pro but I was hoping that in the end of all the lessons there would be an extra video explaining how a real world app like Google Keep or Google Music was designed. This would be a major change that, to my mind, could be done in the course..

The last thing I was not a big fan of was Andy Brown’s voice. Don’t take me wrong here, he explained the assignments in a very clear and objective way but there was something that was still missing as compared to the lesson videos. Was it the happy and animated voice from Nazmul Idris and Izabel Grey? This shall probably remain a mistery.

To resume, I loved and I do recommend this course.

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As an Android Developer, I believe that every application should be as simple and as easy to use as possible. Currently a GDG Lisbon organizer.

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