A review of Designation as a product design bootcamp

Hi, I’m Elle! I work as a product designer at Getaround and as an industry mentor here at Pathrise. I help our fellows land great jobs in product design through technical workshops and 1-on-1s. Check out my review of Designation.

What does Designation do?

Designation is a product design bootcamp that requires participation online and in-person. Their main campus is located in Chicago. But, students can also take their courses at any Flatiron School campus. They have locations in San Francisco, New York City, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle and a few other cities. They offer 2 tracks: UX design and UI design. 

The online component lasts for 12 weeks. All participants spend 6 weeks in the design essentials module. It covers the foundations of UX research, UX design, interaction design, visual design, UI design, and user testing. Students work 15-20 hours per week to complete assignments, online meetings, readings, and quizzes. After the first 6 weeks, participants select either the UX or UI track and begin the virtual phase. This module also lasts 6 weeks, but requires 40 hours of work per week. Students meet with their assigned teaching assistant weekly for a regular critique of their work and progress.

After completing the online phase, students enter the in-person program. This lasts 12 weeks and also requires 40 hours of work per week. Participants spend the first half of the in-person program learning the best practices for team-based design. During the second phase of the in-person program, each team designs a product for an actual client. The groups make all decisions on strategy and methods, as well as participate in client meetings. In the final weeks, students work on creating their portfolios so they can start their job search.

Who is Designation for?

People who have no experience in UX or UI design but want to launch a career in product design could benefit from Designation’s bootcamps. Designation recommends that students have some experience working on teams and strong communication skills. Though they do not need to have previous design experience, candidates should have a basic understanding of UX/UI design principles and the types of projects they will be working on.

What does Designation cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition for the Designation bootcamp is $15,800. All designers must pay a $1,000 nonrefundable deposit for the 6-week design essentials phase. Once a designer passes this phase, their next payment is $14,800. 

Financing is available through Skills Fund and Climb Credit. Skills Fund allows students to borrow $15,800 for tuition and up to $4,500 for living expenses. Students have 36-months to pay off their loans, which have an 8.99% interest rate. Climb Credit loan terms depend on a student’s income and credit history.

To apply to Designation, students submit a brief application. Each applicant has a 45-minute interview, either in-person, on the phone, or on Google Hangouts. The interview consists of both behavioral and simple technical questions. The admissions committee may ask an applicant to complete a second interview or a design challenge within a set number of business days. 

Applicants with minimal understanding of UX/UI design are placed into the online, self-paced design essentials module. Upon successful completion of the module, students can join the next cohort in the virtual phase. If a student shows no understanding of UX/UI design in the interview, they will be rejected and asked to reapply after brushing up on basic UX/UI design principles.

Ratings and reviews

The reviews online of Designation are mixed, but skewed towards positive. Students on CourseReport felt that the bootcamp helped them develop the necessary skills to launch a career in product design. One Reddit reviewer said that he “was able to find a pretty great job after graduating” and that working on a client-based project gave him “a bit of an advantage when writing case studies and looking for work.” 

A grad on Quora reports that “Designation is a very-well rounded program because students get to delve into UX, IxD, UI, and front-end development” and that the bootcamp is best for students seeking “a more comprehensive and holistic approach towards design, design thinking, and front-end.” 

But, some grads on SwitchUp felt that the instruction was not adequate, with one student noting that the teachers “don’t help you or give decent advice” and that his lead instructor “refused to answer tech related questions.” 

Alternatives to Designation

There are a number of alternative bootcamps and online resources for product design should you choose not to enroll in Designation.

  • Students interested in taking online self-guided or instructor-led product design courses can check out DesignerUp. Learn more about DesignerUp in our review.
  • Aspiring designers can consider Designlab, an online bootcamp that teaches the necessary skills to land a job as a UX designer. Read more about Designlab in our review.
  • HackDesign sends weekly design lessons right to your inbox for free, which can be beneficial for aspiring and current product designers.
  • Similarly, UX Pro Academy has courses for beginners as well as more experienced people. Other options are Beginex, Design Sprint School, Avocademy, and Memorisely, UX design bootcamps with part-time courses.
  • One of the most well known bootcamps is General Assembly, which offers full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on a variety of topics like software engineering, data science, UX design, digital marketing, product management, and more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • Thinkful is a tech bootcamp that offers tracks in product/UX design, software engineering, and additional topics.
  • Similarly, Miami Ad School has design and marketing courses where students can build portfolio projects.
  • Students can also consider Kenzie Academy, a full-time tech bootcamp that offers in-person and online courses in 2 tracks: software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Likewise, Prime Digital Academy has full-time and part-time courses in UX design and software engineering.
More alternatives
  • edX is one of the largest online learning platforms. They have courses from top universities like Harvard and MIT as well as big tech companies like Microsoft. Learn more about edX in our review.
  • You can check out Udacity and Springboard, which are online educational platforms that students can use to brush up on the basics or advance their current tech skills. Read more about Udacity and Springboard in our reviews.
  • Udemy, Coursera, Learn UX, Treehouse, and Pluralsight are good low-cost and low-commitment options for aspiring product designers and those looking to advance their skills.
  • GrowthX Academy is an online bootcamp with courses in growth marketing, UX design, and sales and business development.
  • Flatiron School has UX design, software engineering, data science, and cybersecurity analytics courses available in-person and online.  
  • In addition, Lambda School offers 9-month bootcamps in user design, as well as software engineering, iOS development, and data science fundamentals. 
  • Bloc, Interaction Design Foundation, Helio Training, V School, UX Design Institute, University of Arizona Bootcamps, and CareerFoundry are bootcamps and online resources with tracks in web development and design.
  • BrainStation is an online bootcamp offering tracks in UX/UI design, web development, marketing, product management, and data science. 
  • Students located in the Bay Area or looking to work in Silicon Valley can check out Tradecraft, which has tracks in product design, growth marketing, engineering, and sales.

How does Designation compare to Pathrise?

Designation is an online bootcamp that offers courses for people who want to develop the skills to become a designer from scratch. At Pathrise, fellows in our program should already have some background in their field of interest so that they can participate fully in our workshops, which prepare students for the questions they will see in their technical interviews. 

Our program is flexible, with only 2-4 hours of sessions per week and 1-on-1 sessions that can be scheduled as needed by job seekers. Our curriculum is personalized to address each fellow’s specific needs. The Pathrise income share agreement means that fellows don’t need to pay anything until they start working at a job they love and we never require upfront payments or deposits.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that helps students land their dream job in tech through 1-on-1 mentorship. If you are interested in working with any of our mentors to get help with the technical and behavioral interviews or any other aspect of the job search, join Pathrise. 

Apply today.

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