My experience with Interaction Design Foundation & 3 tips on how to stay focused while studying online

Interaction Design Foundation is a non-profit community founded in Denmark 17 years ago. I decided to become their member in July 2018, with a recommendation from a colleague who is also a UX designer, like me.



As a member I got a lot of benefits, such as:

- access to 32 free both beginner and advanced certified UX courses (accredited and recognised by LinkedIn, Adobe, etc.)

- an access to IDF community and a chance to connect with other designers, UX professionals and managers

- information about the most important UX events worldwide

When I signed up, first thing I wanted to do was to check the courses they had. I faced the first problem here because I didn’t know what to choose because I liked too many things! Eventually, I decided to enroll for Mobile User Experience (UX) Design and Emotional Design — How to Make Products People Will Love and study both courses at the same time.

What’s also worth mentioning is that at the same time my office location was moved on the other part of the city. This meant I had to commute every morning for 40 min, so I decided to use this time for studying because my evening free hours free busy with classes on college I had after work. As much as I could take this change in my life as a bad one, I decided to use the maximum of my time, and in return I got a lot!

I particularly liked mini quizzes at the end of each lesson, which is there to ensure that you are keeping up and not just skimming through the text or videos, which is great! The questions become more complex as the course progresses, and their score increases.

One more thing I saw on IDF  and nowhere else are open-ended questions, graded in-person by experts. After you're graded, you also get a proper feedback based on the answer you submitted. IDF doesn’t offer to mentor for each course, but you have the full online support of their community.

When you reach 70% of the course completion, you can retrieve the certificate straight away and post on your LinkedIn profile. But, you can also try to continue with studying and if you achieve more than 90% — you’ll get a Top 10 in a Class note on your certificate which is really cool.


Impact of IDF in my career and life

I was so excited when I got my first certificate and published it on my LinkedIn profile, but even more when I started to receive a lot of various UX job offers. Seemed that the recruiters know and appreciate when they see IDF certificates, so they continued to contact me even more often when I added all 4 certificates.

After finishing the course for Conducting Usability Testing, I decided to apply the learnings and reuse the scripts, pre-test and post-test questionnaires when doing testing at my work. It turned out great, and I got some good and valuable feedback afterwards.



Emotional Design — How to Make Products People Will Love course widened my knowledge in UX, but I also got great knowledge of psychology as well. It’s great to have a big picture of how things work and how with a certain design we can affect and manipulate human behaviour.



Courses in Mobile User Experience (UX) Design and The Ultimate Guide to Visual Perception and Design teach me some important UX rules about the priorities of the elements and content we put on UI, and how with colours and visuals can impact both users’ decisions and entire look and feel of the site or the mobile app.


3 tips on how to stay focused while learning online


  1. How I did it? I read 2–4 chapters every morning and it took me 10–20 min to finish them. Amazing, right? 20 min every day changed my life, my career and my approach to work. I became more confident about the things I do and I enjoyed my day-to-day tasks a lot more than before!
  2. Worked for me, don’t know if it will work for everyone.. I enrolled for 2 courses at once, so I can change. For example, I can choose — whether I prefer to do the Mobile UX of Visual Design. And at the end of the road, I got 2 certificates instead of one :)
  3. Even if you’ll feel overwhelmed sometimes, don’t worry. Take a break and continue when you want. That’s the power of a self-paced course — you can sign up for one or more courses at once and read anytime you want. And the best thing is — the content will always be available to you, even when you finish it!

4 – Reflection

Critical analysis

This project gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into inclusive design and reveal all the various methods we can use to adapt our design to suit all users. It also made me feel eager to create the products designed for the wider audience, products that solve human needs and improve people's lives.

Final prototype - video


I also got the chance to implement the complete design system from scratch. I understood the design patterns and how they can align with people's mental models, with a goal to be understood intuitively. I understood the importance of testing the right audience, and how thinking outside the box (in this case widening the usage of the app to the tablet as well) can lead to a good solution that users will like.

Phone - Tablet
Phone -> Tablet projection

Strengths & Weaknesses

The main strength of this exercise was that it proved how, when design principles are applied accordingly, every challenge and user need can be tackled and resolved. The first step leading to this would be just realising how disabilities can come in more shapes, and how, depending on the context, each person can be in a position of a disabled person. Having that in mind, pointing our design decisions smarter can bring us to deliver the product for a wider audience.

The main weakness in this project was the usability testing, which was extremely difficult to conduct because of the ethics. Even though it was impossible to find a person with dementia, I managed to get a second opinion from the target user group. The interview I did in the nursery home in Leopardstown helped me to emphasise with the carers and to realise and highlight the most and least used functionalities the carers would use in the app.

Other weakness in my case is a too-wide scope, and my stubbornness to make it narrow and focus on less things. Even though I wanted to solve just one problem, more and more challenges appeared and I didn't want to exclude certain functionalities from the app, such as carer help section. Because of the lack of the time, I didn't do a complete drill-down of all the listed categories in the app but the idea should hopefully be clear.

Changes & Future work

Even though this project is finished, I'm still planning to meet Deidre from Irish Dementia Society and have a chat with her about what else can be done in the app to help both carers and patients. I'll try to test my final prototype with her and hopefully get some answers.

Even though I think I need a special ethical approval if I want to test with a person with dementia, I would like to put myself in the challenge and try to find an alternative solution. I have to admit, this project got me interested in helping people with disabilities, and specially after reading a lot about carers and dementia-diagnosed patients, I realised how serious this is and there is not a lot of things that people do to help them.

This app can be used in nursery homes by carers, but also in patients home by carers and patients' family. I wouldn't limit it just on dementia patients, can be used as a help for any type of staff or a family member who handles a patient where the attention and knowledge of patient's routines is needed the most.

3 – Design development & application of design languages


First, I started with the carer UI where I originally had 4 menu categories:

  • Activity (showing the activities patient had when using a tablet (second UI))
  • Diary (containing personal info and patient routines)
  • Admin (place to manage the photos, music and games displayed on the tablet)
  • My Space (space for carer with breathing exercises, calming sounds etc)

Visual Design



The font I chose for this app is sans serif Aspira typeface and components from iOS UI Kit because of their well known, beautiful clear interface.

I read a lot about dementia and carers, but the information I got didn't seem enough. So I decided to contact some nursery homes and have a chat with a carer in a hope they will have answers on some of my questions.

I scheduled an appointment in a nursery home in Leopardstown, and had an interview there with QPSM (Quality and Patient Services Manager). She preferred to stay anonymous.


She gave me some handy advices on how to set the menu and which categories should be prioritised so they can be easily available to the carer. I also got some slides (Nursing Management of Insomnia & R.B) which helped me a lot with content I did in the app. After I did couple of tweaks my prototype looked like this:

Final proto
Click to view the final prototype in Figma



Apple Inc. (n.d.). IOS Human Interface Guidelines. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Aspira Font Family Typeface Story. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Clark, J., & Clark, J. (2017, May 16). Using the Amazon Echo to improve the lives of Alzheimer's patients. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from

Jacobs, S. (2017, November 22). Four Basic Types of Meditation. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Logan, B. (2016). Caregiver's Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from

Health, U. (2013, May 09). What is Dementia? | Dr. David B. Reuben - UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from

Levi, A. (2017, January 31). Stressed Out? These 5 Relaxing Images Will Bring You Instant Calm. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Stein, T. (2018, June 18). 7 Tips for Creating Positive Mental Imagery. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Stevenson, S. (2018, June 11). Dementia Care Dos and Don'ts: Dealing with Dementia. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

2 – Problem definition

Problem Statements

Problem statement
Problem statement - patient
Jobs-to-be-done version

And there is also a problem statement for a carer / family member:

problem statement
Problem statement - carer

Target users

Having in mind that people with dementia will have difficulties with using an app, I decided to create an app with two interfaces. The users will be:

  • carer / family member
  • patient with diagnosed dementia


The main persona here is Audrey, with diagnosed dementia. Arthur is her husband and Paula is her carer.

Empathy map

Empathy Map
Empathy Map





Customer journey map


Customer journey map
Customer journey map





Entire worksheet available here in Figma.


Agius, A. (2018, December 6). How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map [Examples Template]. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Klement, A. (2019, February 12). The Jobs to be Done Data Model. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Fulton, G. (2016, October 26). Making the Web Accessible for Everyone With Inclusive Design and Diverse Personas. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Gibbons, S. (2018, January 14). Empathy Mapping: The First Step in Design Thinking. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Grozny, M. (2018, December 01). 17 reasons to use Storyboards in UX Design. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

Henry, S. L. (n.d.). Accessibility in User-Centered Design: Personas. Retrieved April 28, 2019, from

How to write in plain English[Pdf]. (n.d.). Plain English Campaign.