The Brain and Technology: Brain Science in Interface Design

100% booked

How this course will help your career

What you will learn

  • Human attention—in particular, how the brain decides what is most important and therefore what we should look at first
  • How to create effective designs, through basing them on how the brain manages and prioritizes the sensory information it receives
  • The link between intuition and the evolution of our brains, as well as how to apply this knowledge so as to build software that engages with human intuition
  • How to compose screens that work visually, by tapping into the brain science behind visual recognition
  • Human recollection, and its implications on designing documents and software that support memory
  • How to create products that cater to the brain’s feedback loop, as well as screen controls that tap into our sense of purpose
  • How to build technology that makes learning easier, thus becoming more successful
  • An understanding of how human and social factors affect technology—including future social and technical evolutions

How do you know if your next computer system, app or website will be a success? Well, if you look at all major technological advances in the last few decades, you’ll see that it heavily depends on whether it works well with people. Developments such as email, smartphones, and social networks have all involved some form of human-to-computer interaction and interface. The critical success factor for modern technology has therefore become not what it does but how it interacts with people. For example, can you even imagine life without your smartphone these days? Technology has interwoven itself not only into the human psyche but also quite literally—handheld devices can now be seen attached to peoples’ palms in virtually any setting.

When people use technology, a biological information processor (i.e., the brain) interacts with a mechanical information processor (i.e., the computer)—and this interaction will fail if there is no common ground. If you, as a designer, miss the mark between these two worlds of natural and artificial intelligence, they will collide jarringly. This course will therefore merge brain science and computer science in order to teach you the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). You will learn optimal approaches to designing better software, mobile applications, and websites, including online communities, by learning how to create software that interacts with human intuitions. Such knowledge of HCI is now a critical skill—building new hardware and software goods will result in negative returns on investment (ROI) if users can’t or don’t want to use them. Designers must know the basics of brain science in order to practice computer science, not only for people but for communities, too.

The course is created and presented by Brian Whitworth, a registered psychologist who is also trained in computing and has a wealth of experience and qualifications in both fields: BA (Psych), BSc (Maths), MA (Psych), PhD (IS), and Major (Retd.). Each lesson highlights a particular brain-technology difference and uses it to explain what works—and what doesn’t—when people use technology. Every lesson is further divided into ten-minute video blocks, that you can watch independently, so as to fit your learning experience into a busy schedule.

Gain an industry-trusted UX Course Certificate

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course. You can highlight them on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or your website.

Course Certificate

Our courses and Course Certificates are trusted by these industry leaders, who have taken up company memberships with the IDF:

Centure, Adobe, GE, IBM, Philips and SAP

Is this course right for you?

This is an advanced-level course on brain and computer sciences. It is targeted at anyone interested in the synergy of people and technology:

  • UX, UI, and web designers looking to learn relevant skills and knowledge so as to build digital systems for people
  • Software engineers keen on writing programs that work for people, not the other way around
  • Project managers interested in successfully creating an online platform that fosters interactions between people
  • Newcomers to design who are considering making a switch to UX design
  • Anyone interested in human-technical interfaces, from reporters and philosophers to the general public

Courses in the Interaction Design Foundation are designed to contain comprehensive, evidence-based content, while ensuring that the learning curve is never too steep. All participants will have the opportunity to share ideas, seek help with tests, and enjoy the social aspects afforded by our open and friendly forum.

Learn and work with a global team of designers

You’ll join a global community and work together to improve your skills and career opportunities. Connect with helpful peers and make friends with like-minded individuals as you push deeper into the exciting and booming industry of design.

Lessons in this course

  • Lessons become available at a schedule of one lesson per week.
  • Lessons remain open for you forever and have no deadlines.
  • There is no time limit to finish a course.
  • You have permanent access to your course material, answers, and classmates for the entire duration of your membership.
  • Estimated time to complete: 18 hours 12 mins spread over 8 weeks.

Lesson 0: Introduction

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 57 mins.

  • 0.1: FAQ (20 mins)
  • 0.2: Introduction (58 mins)
  • 0.3: An introduction to IDF courses (14 mins)
  • 0.4: Let our community help you (1 min)
  • 0.5: How to earn your Course Certificate (4 mins)
  • 0.6: Meet your peers online in our discussion forums (6 mins)
  • 0.7: Meet and learn from design professionals in your area (1 min)
  • 0.8: Gain Timeless Knowledge Through IDF Courses (10 mins)
  • 0.9: Mandatory lessons vs. Optional lessons (2 mins)
  • 0.10: A mix between video-based and text-based lesson content (2 mins)

Lesson 1: Attention

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 46 mins.

  • 1.1: Reality Levels (18 mins)
  • 1.2: Control (21 mins)
  • 1.3: The Illusion (22 mins)
  • 1.4: Information Overload (31 mins)
  • 1.5: Simplicity (13 mins)
  • 1.6: Engage The Brain (20 mins)
  • 1.7: Attention Flows (27 mins)
  • 1.8: Designer Notes Attention (10 mins)
  • 1.9: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 2: Context

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 25 mins.

  • 2.1: The Parallel Advantage (17 mins)
  • 2.2: The Senses (27 mins)
  • 2.3: Encoding (27 mins)
  • 2.4: Borders (16 mins)
  • 2.5: Context (16 mins)
  • 2.6: Environments (29 mins)
  • 2.7: Designer Notes Context (7 mins)
  • 2.8: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 3: Intuition

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 3 hours 59 mins.

  • 3.1: Reliability (23 mins)
  • 3.2: The Brain Onion (30 mins)
  • 3.3: System Performance (49 mins)
  • 3.4: A Society Of Mind (27 mins)
  • 3.5: Distraction (27 mins)
  • 3.6: Stress (33 mins)
  • 3.7: Good Intuitions (30 mins)
  • 3.8: Designer Notes Intuition (15 mins)
  • 3.9: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 4: Recognition

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 28 mins.

  • 4.1: Recognition Is Cortical (11 mins)
  • 4.2: The Visual Hierarchy (12 mins)
  • 4.3: Border Ambiguity (14 mins)
  • 4.4: Framing Ambiguity (16 mins)
  • 4.5: Composition Ambiguity (27 mins)
  • 4.6: Feature Ambiguity (19 mins)
  • 4.7: Classification (19 mins)
  • 4.8: Faces (7 mins)
  • 4.9: Art (18 mins)
  • 4.10: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 5: Thought

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 3 hours 14 mins.

  • 5.1: Access by Location (29 mins)
  • 5.2: Language (37 mins)
  • 5.3: Sensory Integration (21 mins)
  • 5.4: Thought (26 mins)
  • 5.5: Documents (27 mins)
  • 5.6: Remembering (38 mins)
  • 5.7: Designer Notes Thought (12 mins)
  • 5.8: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 6: Feedback

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 4 hours 23 mins.

  • 6.1: Feedback Loops (20 mins)
  • 6.2: Driving The Feedback Loop (13 mins)
  • 6.3: Purpose (44 mins)
  • 6.4: Feedback Elements (43 mins)
  • 6.5: Locus Of Control (31 mins)
  • 6.6: The Feedback Problem (33 mins)
  • 6.7: Navigation (25 mins)
  • 6.8: Screen Controls (36 mins)
  • 6.9: Designer Notes Feedback (14 mins)
  • 6.10: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 7: Learning

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 4 hours 17 mins.

  • 7.1: Learning (22 mins)
  • 7.2: Feedback Centers (34 mins)
  • 7.3: Intellectual Learning (19 mins)
  • 7.4: Emotional Learning (34 mins)
  • 7.5: The Emotional Center (24 mins)
  • 7.6: Skills (36 mins)
  • 7.7: Social Learning (23 mins)
  • 7.8: Support Learning (37 mins)
  • 7.9: Self Change (24 mins)
  • 7.10: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 8: The Future Is Us

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 56 mins.

  • 8.1: The Future Is Us 1 (17 mins)
  • 8.2: The Future Is Us 2 (30 mins)
  • 8.3: The Future Is Us 3 (38 mins)
  • 8.4: The Future Is Us 4 (26 mins)
  • 8.5: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 9: Course Certificate, Final Networking, and Course Wrap-up

To be scheduled.

  • 9.1: Course Evaluation (1 min)

Learning paths

This course is part of 3 learning paths:

  • Interaction Designer
    Interaction Designer
  • Usability Expert
    Usability Expert
  • UI Designer
    UI Designer
  • How others have benefited

    savvina simillidou

    savvina simillidou, Cyprus

    “The strength of the course is that the instructor was speaking very clearly (this is important for a person like me where English is not my native language), also it was never boring. It is more interesting to listen someone that reading something.”

    Tony Russell

    Tony Russell, United Kingdom

    “Instructor Brian Whitworth was really good. Course content was great and up to date.”

    Phillip Dodson

    Phillip Dodson, United States

    “I wanted to thank you! IDF is just the best thing ever. Just ever! Making this information accessible and available at the high level of quality. Just awesome!”

    How to advance your career with IDF courses

    1. Attend lessons at your own pace

      Each week throughout the course, you get access to a new lesson, but you can move through the lessons at your own pace. This means you can learn before you leave for work, or in between breaks — in as little as 15 minutes per day.

    2. Network online and offline

      Network with your fellow course-takers online, through discussion forums inside lessons. You can also connect with your peers offline via IDF’s Local Groups. Local Groups connect you with other designers around your city who share the same passion in UX design as you.

    3. Advance your career

      Get a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve scored at least 70% on a course. Highlight your Course Certificates on your résumé, your LinkedIn profile, or your website to showcase your newly mastered skills.

    Start advancing your career now

    Become a member to take “The Brain and Technology: Brain Science in Interface Design”. Take any other IDF UX courses at no additional cost. Take a concrete step forward in your career path today.

    Frequently asked questions

    I missed the enrollment date and now the course is closed. Will I have any opportunity to take the course in the future?

    Don't worry if you missed the course. We will re-run it shortly. One of the reasons we continually open and close courses is to be able to control the classroom size.

    Networking is a large part of our value proposition, so we want just the right number of people inside the courses. That is also why we display the "XX % percent booked" on our course icons.

    We’ll re-schedule the course and make it available for sign-up on in only about a week (or perhaps a little bit longer). The actual start date of the course will be a few weeks after sign-ups begin too. We’ve found that this is the best way to maximize flexibility and convenience for everyone, especially you as you put your course program together.

    Can I take more than one course at a time?
    Yes, you can take as many courses as you would like. For example, if there are 30 active courses, you can enroll in all 30 courses at the same time and move from one to the other as you please.

    There are no further charges once you have paid for your membership.

    Please note: If you have a student membership, you can take a maximum of two courses at the same time. As a student, you can thus still take as many courses as you would like – free of extra charges – just as long as you finish them (or drop them) so that you don’t have more than three ongoing courses at the same time. Please note that if you drop a course, progress is not transferable between cycles. So, you'll have to redo the lessons and answers you already completed in the current cycle. 
    Do I have to be online at an exact time to study?

    No. You can set your own study schedule. There are no "live sessions" or "webinars" since our members are from all timezones around the world. We are a truly global community – with members in every single corner of the world.

    Thus, once you are enrolled, you can take all the time you want to complete a given course. Every "classroom" in each course will never close, so you’ll have permanent access to your classmates and your course material (as well as your own answers).

    Will I receive a Course Certificate?

    Yes. Every time you complete a course, you get an industry-recognized Course Certificate. There is no limit to how many Course Certificates you can earn during your membership. You will also receive a 3-step guide on how to include your Course Certificate on LinkedIn and in your résumé/CV.

    You can see an example of a Course Certificate at the bottom of the Course Catalogue.

    I have answered questions in a lesson; when will they be marked/graded?
    We do the marking/grading in so-called "sprints," where we sit down and do all the marking/grading in one go. Your answers will be graded approximately two weeks after you submit your work. 
    We do this because it is much more efficient than doing one little step every day. It's part of our lean/agile work philosophy, and that approach to efficiency is one of the factors that keeps our membership prices so incredibly low.
    We are doing it to save you money and as part of our mission to lower the cost of high-quality design education.
    I have updated my name, but my course certificate is not updated — how can I change it?
    Once you update your name, the certificate will be updated automatically in the next 48 hours. 
    I have started the course/lesson later than the specified date, are my answers still going to be marked?

    We will be marking answers for as long as there are active members. Therefore, even if you are the only person taking a lesson at that particular time, your answers will still be marked.

    How are courses graded?

    Open-ended questions are graded by our experts and course instructors - not by machines.

    That's one of the reasons why our Course Certificates are credible and recognized by industry leaders.

    I started a course after the official start date; for how long will I have access to the course materials?

    Regardless of when you have enrolled on a course, you will have access to the course materials for the entire duration of your membership. So, if you pay for a one-year membership, you will have access for one year, renewing your membership for a second year means you will have access for two years, and so on.

    New lessons are starting before I have had the chance to complete all aspects of the previous lesson(s); am I going to be locked out of these unfinished lessons?

    No, you will not be locked out of any lesson or course. You will have access to all course materials throughout your membership, so there is no pressure to keep at the same pace as the specified lesson release dates.

    All we recommend is that you try to stick to the same schedule as other participants. The reason is they may have moved on to other lessons, thereby meaning you could miss out on the social aspects of the course(s). However, we anticipate that there will be a constant flow of participants working through different lessons and courses, so overall you are unlikely to miss out. We will also be running all courses again — so there really is no rush.

    Are course certificates awarded on a specific date?

    No; you can generate your certificate as soon as you attain at least 70% of the total course points.

    When will I receive my Course Certificate?

    Course certificates will be given to participants when they have scored more than 70% or more of the total course points. For example, if a course contains ten lessons each with ten questions, you will receive a course certificate when the instructor has awarded you at least 70 points (70% of the total course points).

    There is no specified time that certificates will be awarded — instead, they are given to participants as and when they have answered all questions, even if this is long after the official end date.

    How do I add my Course Certificate to my LinkedIn profile?

    Below is a step-by-step guide on how to add your IDF course(s) to your LinkedIn profile:

    1. Log in to your LinkedIn account, then go to your profile.
    2. On the right, in the Add profile section dropdown, choose Background and then select the + next to Licenses & Certifications.

    3. In the following fields add:
      • Name – Course name
      • Issuing organization – The Interaction Design Foundation
      • Check the field “This credential does not expire”
      • Issue date - Input the date written on your certificate (e.g., May 2019)
      • Credential ID – Your membership ID number (it's written on your certificate)
      • Credential URL: Input the certificate URL provided on your course page

    4. Click on the save button.

    Congratulate yourself!
    You’ve made a great accomplishment by earning your course certificate, and now the world knows about it!

    How do I add the IDF Membership Certificate to my LinkedIn Profile?

    Below is a step-by-step guide on how to add your IDF membership certificate to your LinkedIn profile:

    1. Log in to your LinkedIn account, then go to your profile.
    2. On the right, in the Add profile section dropdown, choose Background and then select the + next to Licenses & Certifications.

    3. In the following fields add:
      • Name – Membership Certificate
      • Issuing organization – The Interaction Design Foundation
      • Check the field “This credential does not expire”
      • Issue date - Input the date when you joined our community (e.g., May 2019)
      • Credential ID – Your membership ID number (it's written on your certificate)
      • Credential URL: Input the certificate URL provided on your profile page
    4. Click on the save button.

    It is as simple as that. Now, anyone who visits your profile can see your certificate!

    How much will I have to pay for the courses?

    As a member, you can take as many courses as you want with no additional costs. This means you only have to pay our membership fee to take an unlimited number of courses. There will be no further charges on top of the membership fee, no matter how many courses you decide to take.

    Do you provide mostly beginners' or more advanced courses?

    We provide courses for all levels of mastery and accross the full spectrum. If you’re new to design, you can start from our beginner courses and progress all the way up to our advanced ones. If you’re an established designer, on the other hand, you will find some of our lower-level courses provide a good refresher—and the advanced ones, a bit of a challenge.

    How long does it take to complete a course?

    Once enrolled in a course, you will gain access to a new lesson each week, which you are free to complete without any deadlines and no end date, either.