If there’s one thing that we’re repeatedly told by the world’s best designers, it’s that you should never stop learning, and constantly find new ways to improve your design techniques.
Now, there are numerous ways that you can learn. Whether it’s directly learning through your experiences at work or through things you pick up from mentors or senior colleagues, the important thing is that you’re improving, both professionally and personally.
However, the ways you can learn don’t stop there. If you really want to take your graphic design skills (or, frankly, any other skill...) to the next level, you might want to consider an online course that you can work through on the side of your full-time career.
In one of our recent interviews, Creative Director Jon Delman described his motivation for learning on a consistent basis in perfect fashion. “Don’t be afraid to let everyone know how little you actually know," Delman said. "The less you know, the more you can learn — and the more willing others are to teach.”
And boy, is that statement the truth.
The beauty of learning is that no matter how old or young you are, what you currently do, or what you end up doing down the road, you can always learn more. Online courses are an excellent way to add an extra layer to an already existing skill, or even learn something entirely new. Regardless, they’re often the quick, affordable, and enjoyable way to develop skills and master new trends that occur in the graphic design world.
The 5 Best Online Classes to Learn Graphic Design
We’ve compiled a series of top graphic design courses available online right. this. moment.
This is ultimately a list to get you started -- there are thousands of classes to choose from, and within specific niches of design, you’ll find hundreds of experts who specialize in tiny percentiles of their profession. Which courses will you be enrolling in? Tell us in the comments below!
1. The Best Free Online Classes for Graphic Design: Alison Online
Alison refers to itself as the “new world of free certified learning.” It’s a fair statement, and certainly, from a graphic designer's perspective, there appears to be a significant amount of high-quality courses available that often lead to earning a test-based certificate.
Not only is this an excellent way to add a new qualification to your resume, but it’s also an efficient method of getting into the swing of online courses. The last thing you want to do is take part in a lengthy, poorly-put-together online course and be put off the idea of doing one again.
Some of the graphic design-specific options that Alison has available include certificate courses in:
- Visual and Graphic Skills.
- Design Principles.
- Photoshop Essential C6 Tools.
You’re probably familiar with Udemy, regardless of whether you’ve even taken an online course with them before. The well-known learning platform features a series of videos by independent teachers who set their prices depending on the length of the video courses, the qualifications of the teacher and the field in which they educate.
Essentially, Udemy is a marketplace for educational material, which means that ratings heavily dictate which courses are seen the most by the website users. Think of it as a Yelp or TripAdvisor for education.
Udemy is particularly renowned for their frequent special offers and discounts too -- something that is of interest if you’re eager to learn loads about a topic or subject in a short time frame but are always constrained by a budget. You’ll also find that some of their courses are free, and you can’t ask for much more than free education!
An excellent starting point for any graphic designer is their Introduction to Graphic Design course, which is sure to set your career on the right path from the very start. However, they have tons of other courses that specialize in specific skills or programs that you may find valuable as well.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a comprehensive online learning resource called OpenCourseWare. OpenCourseWare is the arguably the most egalitarian form of education, and it exists online through a database consisting of courses run by professional academic teachers (pretty legit, if you ask us!).
Something to note in regards to the graphic design course options available -- most of them will relate to overarching topics that act as a great introduction to another subject that you might want to learn about down the road. If you’re looking for a deep-dive on a specific topic, you might be best to focus your attention elsewhere. But nonetheless, the MIT resources are always worth a look.
4. The Best Flexible Online Classes for Graphic Design: Canva Design School
Canva as a tool and resource is excellent, but the recent addition of their Design School has added an extra dimension to an already stuffed platform. The school offers an online free course called Introduction to Graphic Design. You take the course at your own pace, which is divided into four separate modules and nicely balanced throughout all of them.
You’ll find a wide variety of information (albeit at a basic level) on things like fonts, colors, images, backgrounds, layouts and shapes -- all of which are, of course, highly relevant to any budding graphic designer. For that reason alone, it’s a fairly comprehensive course, but it’s definitely geared towards the beginner, or someone looking to learn the basics of graphic design.
5. The Best Multiple-Industry Online Classes for Graphic Design: CreativeLive
The fifth and final course that we recommend taking a look at is CreativeLive, which offers a range of online courses geared towards designers, including graphic, website and even artists in general.
Similar to Udemy, they have a mix of free and paid-for courses. However, they are known to have regular discounts and deals, so keep an eye on their emails to watch for cuts in prices. You’ll find a range of design-based courses including:
- Introductions to HTML and CSS for designers.
- An introduction to typography.
- The fundamentals of Adobe programs and more.
We’d recommend reviewing each of the above platforms or courses to get a feel for what they all offer and what suits your needs the most. As we mentioned a few times, some online courses take longer or shorter than others, so be careful to sign up only if you’re comfortable with the time frame, price and skills required prior to starting the course. Happy learning!