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UI Essentials

If you want to make your apps easier to use, find out what delights users, or more effectively collaborate with your design team, this is the course for you. In just four hours, we’ll have you making smarter design choices and building more appealing screens.


Are you curious to learn how designers create user interfaces that are simple, easy-to-use, and easy to look at? Let us teach you how to make better design choices in order to build user interfaces that are useful, understandable, and styled. If you work with a designer, you’ll work together with more efficiency and with less friction. If you’re making your own designs, you’ll learn to make ones your users will actually want to use.

Who should take this class?

  • Programmers who want to make smarter UI design choices or who want to work more efficiently and effectively with designers.

  • Product Owners looking to more effectively communicate and understand design.

What you'll learn:

  • How to narrow down features by taking into consideration user needs versus user wants. 

  • The difference between recall and recognition and how they’re used to create intuitive interfaces. 

  • How to elegantly compose user interface elements on a screen in order for the user to focus on key tasks to complete.

How to prepare:

There is no pre-reading or major prep work for this course. That said, you will need:

  • Something to write with: fine-tip pen or sharp pencil, a broad, black marker (Sharpie or similar), and a broad, colored marker (Sharpie or similar)
  • A print out of the Big Nerd Ranch Design Workbook
  • The ability to take a photo of the completed workbook sheets (8.5”x11”) and upload them in order to share with the class.
  • A mobile device (iOS or Android) for application research. Either a phone or tablet will be fine.



  • What you’ll learn during class


  • Brainstorm features for a hypothetical application.

  • What is user want versus user need.

  • Reducing features from a brainstorming session in order to create a well tailored application.


  • Using the concept of recall versus recognition in order to make intuitive interfaces. 

  • The importance of using hierarchy in order to organize content and user interface elements.

  • Using human language rather than computer language to more fully inform the user.


  • Building intuitive interfaces that better direct a user's eye to the most important elements.

  • Optimizing app features to create a less distracting interface for the user.

  • Creating consistent interface elements in order to cut down on user confusion and cognitive load.

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