Learn UX with Google certificate



I’ve done it! After 7 weeks I finally finished the entire Google UX Course at Coursera. I dedicated two days of every week to the course and did absolutely all the design assignments and quizzes.

I went in deep.

I wasn’t doing this course to get the certificate, or to find a job, and I didn’t expect to learn a lot from it either.

Why did I take it then?

My reason for it was simple. I teachdesign at a University and online, and education has become my primary job right now. Because Google had made a course and promised people a certificate, they raised a lot of expectations in people. Those thinking about transitioning to UX now had the confirmation they needed.

Once I become a Google Certified UX designer finding a job will be a walk in the park.

Some people think the certificate is when the party starts.

We need more skilled designers in the industry, as it’s at a turning point and many roles are being redefined or merged. But will an online course be enough to be any good?

I decided to test it myself, from my own perspective of 20+ years in the design industry.

My goal was to find out whether the knowledge in the course will actually be useful in the real world and how well does the course introduce the UX processes to complete beginners.

Let’s start with…

The bad

There are some issues with the course material itself, but the biggest problem with the entire course is the Coursera platform that Google chose to put this whole thing on. I know it’s popular and has a lot of features they needed, but its bad overall UX doesn’t sit well with a course talking about what good UX is.

From the forward button jumping all over the screen, to upload buttons being so close to both the current and next section, people accidentally upload their assignments wrong. But the cherry on top and icing on the cake was this beautiful gem in the iPad app.

The problem here is that many people may think the UX of the platform is good if Google has decided to use it for their course. This in turn leads to reinforcing really bad patterns in both readability, accessibility and ease of use.

Naming conventions

Some of the processes outlined in the course use Google-specific names, that are not necessarily used by the rest of the industry. Try searching for “User-Centered Design” in Google itself, and you’ll find many diagrams with different names. Google picked one convention and never mentions it can be called differently sometimes. That can be confusing for people trying to read more on their own.

Later in the course, they also mention Figma’s “creative naming” of Gutters as Alleys, and UI Kits as “Sticker Sheets”, without mentioning (in that course segment) the real names the rest of the industry is calling them.

UI kits are sometimes called Sticker Sheets?

Peer graded assignments

The biggest flaw of the course, however, is that the assignments are peer-graded. That means that your beginner designs will be evaluated by other beginners. It would be a lot better if the course was a bit more expensive, but actual Google employees were reviewing the design exercises. Here’s why:

  1. If your work is reviewed by another beginner, you have no way of knowing if they even understood the entire course right. Maybe they completely missed the point and will give you the lowest score, because they simply don’t understand what the goal of the exercise was?
  2. The other problem is that you never know who is going to review your work. Because of that people may feel bad about giving low scores, fearing retribution from their peers. After all, grading others is no easy feat. In reality, it leads to most people getting full 100% scores from their peers regardless of the quality, with the written feedback being mostly “Looks good!”.

If you’re expecting to learn from your mistakes in this course, you’re out of luck.


Peer-graded assignments also lead to a lot of cheaters, uploading empty PDFs or bluntly writing “Just let me pass, ok?” in the description of their empty upload. Some go as far as to download assignments from others and upload them as their own, as one of my viewers reported.

The Google way

Because it’s Google, they aren’t teaching you UX, they are teaching Google UX. In a way, it’s their way of training their next generation of future employees. Not mentioning iOS design patterns in the course at all can be misleading, because people may assume all apps for all platforms are designed exactly the same — using Material Design.

They are not.

Being aware of that and ready to learn more is crucial here.

Google is practically training their future employees here.

The Good

After all that negativity, let’s talk positives. I believe this course is actually quite good. It covers the foundational basics quite well, in an approachable manner for complete beginners. I tried to review as many peer assignments as I could, to see how those beginners fare in actual work.

All the soft-skill-based parts of the process were done quite well by most of the participants I’ve seen. Personas, empathy maps, affinity diagrams, problem statements — it all looked as professional as if it was done by some more experienced designer.

When it came to drawing some wireframes, and later high-fidelity designs, of course, it became apparent that these skills are not as easy to learn. You can learn the basics of UX here, but there is no way you will learn UI design — that requires months of practice and dedication.

The instructors

The instructors were all very well chosen. I liked how they speak and convey ideas without the condescending, better-than-thou approach many industry experts are prone to. Here it was friendly, to the point and easy to understand. I played most of the videos at 2x the speed to save time though, as most of them try to speak as slowly as possible to make it easier to understand to non-english speakers. That’s great!

The difficulty

The overall difficulty isn’t that high. I also asked some beginners to confirm that I’m not using my experience bias here to decide that. Most of them were able to follow the course along pretty easily.

Obviously after the “free part” is done, the dropoff is huge. But each subsequent course segment also introduces exercises that will sometimes take days to complete for beginners. That discourages a lot of people, and by the time I reached Course 7 there were about 200 active people on the forums, down from the nearly 40,000 that started the Foundations.

Learning to create storyboards and lo-fi wireframes, or simple prototypes is the best part of this course.

Should you take it?

Given that the foundations you can complete for free (on the trial version of Coursera), it’s one of the cheapest courses out there with a certificate from a big brand name. While it still going to be all about the portfolio and the job interview, that certificate can give the actual junior designer some much needed confidence to learn more and explore.

I’ve discussed this with many students from the course already, and there’s a notion that just having the certificate will land you a job.

This is not true. Just having the certificate will place you on a starting position in a run towards that job. But you still have to do all the extra work to get there. Having the foundational skills this course provides, will make it easier to learn more on your own. They actually recommend the UX Collective as a great source of extra knowledge, and those articles are going to be easier to grasp with that basic understanding of all the UX concepts.

If you want to become a UX designer, do the course, and be ready to dive into the world of UX afterwards. Hone your skills, design daily, create an awesome portfolio and go rock the job market!

🦄 Check out my FREE MINI EBOOK on UI Design and basics of design course on YouTube ✅ Design Basics. By day I lead hype4.com and work on www.thatstartupbook.com / www.frontendunicorn.com / 🐦@michalmalewicz

The UX Collective donates US$1 for each article published on our platform. This story contributed to World-Class Designer School: a college-level, tuition-free design school focused on preparing young and talented African designers for the local and international digital product market. Build the design community you believe in.