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15 highly rated free design courses

Posted by Lenny Roudik

Design is a major factor in how people view your company and website. But, what if you don’t know how to design, or can’t afford a full-time designer? It might be time to learn design yourself.

We get asked all the time if we know of design courses, especially by people looking to make their own vinyl decals.

With that in mind we’ve picked out 15 free design courses that’ll help you build your design skills. Check them out:

Introductory design courses for newbies

Introductory design courses for newbies

Intro to the design of everyday things (Udacity)

This course on Udacity is created for anyone interested in design, it provides a summary of key concepts from the first two chapters of The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. The course trains you to recognize how design affects everyday life and how to make better design decisions.

Check out Intro to the design of everyday things on Udacity.

Introduction to graphic design (Udacity)

Here you’ll learn the basics of design theory to create amazing graphics. Unlike other courses you won’t be learning about Photoshop or Illustrator, you will be learning the 5 basics of design. This lays the foundation for a career of design success.

Great for very early beginners. If you're thinking about pursuing graphic design, but you're just not sure if it's a good fit for you, this course is helpful in giving clear definitions so you know exactly what graphic design means. -Melanie Baker

Check out Introduction to graphic design on Udacity.

Photo editing essentials: growing your brand (Skillshare)

PicMonkey’s Jen Reiner shares how to edit a picture and make it awesome without the need for Photoshop. This class is perfect for beginners in design or those that don't want to buy photoshop. Every lesson includes tips and hacks to make your job easier.

Check out Photo editing essentials: growing your brand on Skillshare.

Design principles courses

Design principles

Creative concepting: getting to better ideas faster (Skillshare)

This course by Jessica Moon, creative director at Digital Telephathy, explains how to execute design correctly. She shares exercises, concepts and tactics throughout this 40 minute course. This course is best for anyone serious about becoming professional designer.

I absolutely recommend this class to remind some of the key shortcuts and the best ways to make the design process easier and quicker. Great tips! Thank you, I really enjoyed your class. - Cata Gomez

Check out Creative concepting: getting to better ideas faster on Skillshare

Design pitfalls (David Kadavy)

Design Pitfalls is designed by David Kadavy, the author of the best-selling book Design for Hackers, and lead design at multiple startups. The 6 lessons are delivered 3 times a week for 2 weeks. Each lesson focuses on a pitfall and how to avoid them.

Check out Design pitfalls on Design for Hackers.

Don't fear the Internet

Everyone has a website these days but not all are visually appealing. With this course you learn “not to fear the Internet” and create a website that incorporates elements of design to increase your visits and engagement. You’ll also learn to take a basic wordpress blog and manipulate the css, html (and some php!) to match your aesthetic.

Check out Don't fear the Internet.

Courses on typography & fonts

Typography & Fonts

Choosing the right font (Canva)

Choosing the right font means the difference between looking like a professional and an amateur. Consider how many people ‘love’ Comic Sans but the professional community finds it childish.

Canva offers a free course that helps you choose the right font for your message, and overall design project. Using the fonts you learned about in this course would help you make some killer custom magnets, give it a shot.

Check out Choosing the right font on Canva.

Typography that works: typographic composition and fonts (Skillshare)

Skillshare offers a more in-depth font course that helps you recognize, use and create awesome compositions with typeface. Beyond choosing fonts, you’ll learn the different types of fonts, when they should be used and what works best for your readers.

Lovely introduction to typography with great examples and thought provoking content. Really useful, and achievable projects. -Ann O'neill

Typography that works: typographic composition and fonts on Skillshare.

Sketching & illustration courses

Sketch & Vector Graphic Design

How to sketch like an industrial designer (Skillshare)

Julia Troy, who is Quirky's Design Director, created this class to teach you how to sketch your product idea into an image that is presentable and accurately illustrates your idea. This course is best for aspiring industrial designers and anyone that is prototyping an idea or invention.

Check out How to sketch like an industrial designer on Skillshare

Vector illustration: design a playful character using geometric shapes (Skillshare)

Vector illustrations are a huge part of design, with the help of Jonathan Ball’s instructions you will learn to create playful characters in vector form. This course is great for anyone interested in design since vector format is used universally.

Check out Vector illustration: design a playful character using geometric shapes on Skillshare

Logo design courses

Logo design courses

Graphic design 101: Why that logo is so compelling (Udemy)

Logos are a huge part of your company, they are usually the first thing a client sees and can be influential in decision making. This course explains what makes a logo attractive and how the design process works, so you can choose the perfect logo for your company.

Check out Graphic design 101: Why that logo is so compelling on Udemy.

Creating brand systems: an overview of combining logos and type (Skillshare)

This short class is made for creatives, illustrators, designers or anyone is interested in learning what goes into creating a dynamic logo. Designers Mike Ski and Jessie Jay created this course and have included simple side projects to help create your own dynamic logo at the end of the class.

Check out Creating brand systems: an overview of combining logos and type on Skillshare.

Design courses for marketing & startups

Design for Marketing & Startups

Startups, this is how design works

Startups have to compete with the hundreds of designers at companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. This is perfect for employees in startups or those interested in startup design. The course teaches everything a startup needs to know about design including: logo creation, innovative UI and how to beat your competitors with awesome, kick-ass design.

Check out Startups, this is how design works.

Web design essentials: creating marketing homepages that drive results (Skillshare)

This 60 minute course is for anyone interested in designing websites with high engagement and results. Dennis Field, a product evangelist and designer, teaches narrowing your creative process and capitalizing on feedback.

Check out Web design essentials: creating marketing homepages that drive results on Skillshare.

Principles of UX design (Invision)

Timothy Embretson from Best Buy takes you through the importance of user experience in this free design course by Invision. This course is great for anyone desiging a website, app or web tool.

Check out Principles of UX design from Invision.

Over to you

Approaching design on your own is no small feat but there are loads of resources that will help you along the way. The most important thing you can do is practice, innovate, and create on a regular basis.

Ready to see how that new logo or illustration looks in print? Why not start with some custom stickers or magnets? Get $10 off your first order when you sign up by clicking the button below.


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