Best Ongoing Learning Courses for Designers

Posted on February 13, 2018 | Updated on January 25, 2023

There are many reasons you might want to take some ongoing learning courses as a graphic designer. If you feel a bit out of your element, or inexperienced, taking additional training can increase confidence. You will also be better able to compete if you continue to increase your skill base. Perhaps you have a fresh project and need a new skill to complete it. Anytime you can wow your client or boss, you present yourself as a creative professional who is worthy of top pay rates.

There are approximately 210,710 graphic designers in the United States as of May 2016. Within those ranks are designers with specialized abilities, as well as those that work for newspapers and private corporations. There is a lot of competition for the top design jobs available, and you want to position yourself as the best of the best. It’s just smart business to keep learning and growing as a designer. Here are nine great ongoing learning resources to help you grow and learn:

1. CreativeLive

You’ll find a number of ongoing learning courses on this site that will help you become a better graphic designer or brush up on basic skills you might have forgotten over the years. Some of the courses available include topics such as Design Surface Patterns From Scratch, Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering, and Hand Lettering 101. Prices vary from free to around $80, depending on the course and what is on sale that month.

2. Alison

If you’re looking for a number of free courses from experts in the field, then Alison is a good place to start. There are about 11 million learners that utilize the courses on the site. Some design courses you’ll want to check out include Product Design, People-Centered Design, Introduction to Taguchi Methods and Robust Design, and Introduction to Responsive Design using Bootstrap.

3. Udemy

Udemy is known for its inexpensive courses — some are free — and is a great way to pick up some additional design skills and coding knowledge to add to your arsenal. For example, you might take a course in how to code a WordPress theme, brush up on your photography skills, or a design specific course for a social media platform such as Instagram. What works best on that site versus Facebook or Twitter?

4. Skillshare

With over 18,000 different classes, this site is set up a bit differently than some of the others out there. For example, new subscribers can get a three-month membership for only 99 cents. After that, the pricing structure varies, depending upon how far in advance you pay. Monthly costs are $15 after the trial period, which gives you access to all courses. Some of the courses for designers include Illustrator Basics: The Shape Builder Tool, Font Pairing: Learn to Choose Cohesive Typefaces, and T-Shirt Design Workshop.

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

When it comes to technology, this university is one of the most respected in the country. Students vie to get into MIT. However, you can take its OpenCourseWare classes without paying a penny in tuition and learn many of the same skills on your own. This is a great, and free, way to brush up on technical skills. For example, you can take a basic graphic design course.  

6. Coursera

Need to brush up on basics or feel like your fundamentals contain some holes? Coursera offers a course titled Graphic Design Specialization that has five parts: Fundamentals of Graphic Design, Introduction to Typography, Introduction to Imagemaking, Ideas From the History of Graphic Design and Brand New Brand. Each part runs for four to six weeks and requires pretty intensive study. You’ll get the opportunity to apply the skills as you learn them via your own projects.

7. Canva

Have you turned to Canva for some of your design work? This platform allows you to create simple logos, banners for social media, and even book covers and flyers. It is a fast, simple way to grab images and build a design. There is a lot you can do with Canva if you have the right design knowledge. Fortunately, there is an open learning course that walks you through all the knowledge you’ll need to make the most of this platform, called Intro to Graphic Design.

8. Tuts+

Looking for video-based design and illustration courses? Tuts+ offers more than 1,000 of them in that category alone. Courses include Mastering Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator, Designing Game UI Assets in Adobe Illustrator, Creating Low Poly Backgrounds and How to Shade Animals in Perspective. As you can see, the offerings are quite varied, so you can develop nearly any skill imaginable. You can watch the introduction for free, but you will need to subscribe for $29 per month in order to watch the full videos.

9. CreativePro

CreativePro is more of a blog with mini-lessons than an online course site, but you’ll learn a lot of fine details here. For example, you can study many different how-to topics, such as Glyph Positioning and Baseline Shift, Changing Image Focus With Photoshop CC 2018, Round Corners Quickly in Illustrator, and How to Create a Burnt Paper Effect in Photoshop.

These fine details can take your designs from drab to amazing, so these topics are well worth studying. Even better, on busy days you can go through a how-to lesson very quickly. You’ll build your skills without committing too much time.

Ongoing learning courses for designers are a necessity. If you don’t learn new skills and stay on top of your game, it will be hard to compete with those up-and-coming designers who are fresh out of school and have new ideas. Instead, take the time to invest in yourself as a designer and learn new techniques. This is how you thrive as a graphic designer in the long term.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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