User Experience Design

User experience designers are responsible for building products that feel effortless to use and meaningfully made. That simplicity and personalization is born from a complex balance of design sensibility, user research, active empathy and technological literacy.

Prime’s 18-week immersive User Experience Design program was crafted to help people with interests in design, organization and technology build the foundational skills to start a career in user experience. Prime worked hand-in-hand with industry employers to ensure that graduates are ready for the challenges of building complex experiences that are valuable for businesses and resonate with users.

Our Upcoming Cohorts

Deadline Preload Classroom Graduation
Aug 11 Sep 11 Oct 23 Jan 26
START YOUR APPLICATION NOW

Apply before the next deadline!

DAYS
HOURS
MINUTES
$55K

Average starting salary of program graduates.

97%

Completion rate of students in the classroom.

199+

Number of MN companies with Prime grads on their teams.

159%

Average student wage increase after placement.

What is User Experience Design?

User experience (UX) is a field that draws from many different disciplines including design, psychology, business, library science, organizational development and software programming to make sense of human-centered problems. With a playing field that wide, it’s no surprise that organizations don’t always agree on where the boundaries of UX are. Prime believes that the core of UX is based on expertise and context in a few core areas:

User Research

Understand what users need, and more importantly why they need it

Info Architecture

Structure and organize content based on user goals and business objectives

Interaction Design

Manage how digital elements work together to help users achieve their goals

Usability

Conduct evaluative research to see how designs perform for real users

Visual Design

Control the graphic components of a design to support its use and goals

UX professionals have their own unique blend of experience and expertise in these areas based on how they build their career. If you ask a UXer what they do, you’ll get a slightly different answer depending on who you ask. While the day to day may vary, a career in UX will let you explore:

  • People, culture, behaviors
  • Creative strategy
  • Many different possibilities (instead of one clear answer)

UX designers produce design artifacts such as:

  • Sketches
  • Wireframes and storyboards
  • Interactive prototypes
  • Communications materials (including customer experience maps, vision documents, and stakeholder presentations)

User Experience Designers are integral to modern software development teams. Applying skills from the areas above and versed in the constraints and opportunities of digital design and development environments, UX designers serve as an advocate for the user in the process and help to keep the team centered on the needs of the user. Sometimes designers work alongside developers; other times designers work with product owners and business analysts. Titles vary widely as well—user experience professionals may be labeled as UX designer, information architect, product designer, usability specialist, or interaction designer, to name a few. Prime familiarizes students with the software development lifecycle and how they can exercise their skills in each phase of the process.

Admissions: Who are we looking for?

User experience is a dynamic and interdisciplinary field and practitioners have a wide variety of backgrounds - some with formal training in human factors, psychology, strategy and business analysis and others who are self-taught professionals from non-traditional backgrounds. The eclectic mix of working professionals in user experience is part of why Prime is focused on celebrating diversity within our cohorts and our cohorts include a spectrum of experience, backgrounds and ages.

Applicants come from varied backgrounds but there are a few things that make someone a compelling candidate:

  • Basic computer skills and digital literacy (you should be comfortable using the web)
  • A passion for solving problems and a willingness to learn from failure
  • A mindset that focuses on externalizing solutions for and communicating ideas to others
  • Related experience in design and/or development roles (i.e. front-end development, visual design, content strategy, research, etc.)

About the Application

Prime's admission process starts with an online application. You'll answer short essay questions, logic puzzles and you'll be presented with a creative challenge where you'll show us how you think. The process is designed to be fun–there's no timer and you can complete your application over as many sessions as you'd like. Once submitted, if your application looks good you'll be contacted by Prime to schedule an interview where you'll have the chance to come to our campus, get a tour and sit down with someone from our admissions team to confirm that the program feels like a mutual fit. Generally speaking, you'll know whether you're offered admission within 2 weeks of completing your application.

Curriculum: 18 Weeks at a Glance

Our immersive user experience design program focuses heavily on the broad foundation of skills employers are looking for in UX designers. The curriculum spans the entire end-to-end design process—including up-front user research, wireframing and design, interactive prototyping and evaluation. The breadth of the program arms emerging UX designers with the context they need to build a career. The program is broken into three parts: Preload, Boot and Build. Click on each tab in the timeline below to learn more.

By the end of the program you will be:

  • Comfortable with ambiguity and discomfort
  • Comfortable trying, learning, failing
  • Literate in software development processes
  • Fluent in visual and interaction design
  • Fluent in design principles and research methods
  • Experienced in basic user research and evaluation methods
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Weeks 1 - 6

Estimated Time Commitment: 13-20 Hrs/week
Schedule: Flexible, with weekly live web chats

Getting Started

Preload is a chance for you to learn and start to begin practicing with the basic tools of the trade in user experience. This starts with design models and moves on to cover both abstract principles of design and tactical tools like Illustrator, Photoshop and Axure. We’ll discuss everyday design examples to understand how all these components impact the user experience. While you’re getting a high level view of the processes and complexities of UX you’ll get a chance to learn a bit about some of the building blocks of web technologies like HTML and CSS.

During preload, you’ll be primarily working on your own schedule, but you’ll be checking in with instructors regularly both through online chat and regular live video sessions with the cohort. Many cohorts choose to meet at Prime during this period to start to get to know one another and add a social aspect to the learning early on.

Goals:

  • Understand the foundational principles of visual and interactive design
  • Gain familiarity with visual design tools (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign)
  • Gain familiarity with interactive design tools (HTML/CSS, Axure)
  • Develop a model for understanding the UX design process and its complexities (UX process, design process)

Topics covered:

  • Visual design principles
  • Usability principles
  • UX design process
  • Design tools

Weeks 7 - 12

Estimated Time Commitment: 60+ Hrs/week
Schedule: M-F 8:30-5:00 plus weekend homework

Developing Your Skills

Boot is when you really start to lay the foundation for your career in user experience design. In the classroom, we’ll discuss client-based case studies and use them to practice design and research methods in a low-stakes setting. You’ll gain experience in executing standard prototyping and evaluation techniques including journey mapping, storyboarding, and usability testing. You’ll practice sharing and reporting findings within teams, and learn more about how design teams operate in real-world environments. Communication is a recurring theme at Prime; beyond the classroom work, you’ll also participate in public speaking and leadership training with students from all of Prime’s programs.

Beyond the context that you’ll receive from instructors, Prime regularly hosts guests from the industry to share different perspectives on various aspects of user experience design, software development and product management overall.

Goals:

  • Navigate the complexities of UX design
  • Practice prototyping and presenting
  • Gain familiarity with usability and UX research methods

Topics covered:

  • Prototyping tools & methods
  • Qualitative & quantitative research methods
  • Findings reports

Weeks 13 - 18

Estimated Time Commitment: 60+ Hrs/week
Schedule: M-F 8:30-5:00 plus team sessions as scheduled

Project-Based Learning

Build is where the foundations you’ve been laying since preload are put to the test. You’ll work in pairs and small teams to solve a design problem for and with real clients. You’ll gain practical experience with the entire design process, from problem definition to prototyping, evaluating, refinement, and execution. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of designing for digital experiences, and the challenges you are likely to encounter when working on a UX team. We will also explore how to define and create concepts for designs that extend beyond a single screen.

Building your skills is important, but without something to show off your work, employers aren’t able to see the impact you could have on their team. Alongside project work, you’ll be collecting artifacts you’ve been creating throughout the program into a portfolio that will help you to put your best foot forward with prospective employers. This work, along with coaching and resume review from Prime staff and volunteers from the community will get you ready to make a great first impression with employers at career day.

Goals:

  • Advance your design skills
  • Practice usability and UX research methods
  • Engage in an iterative design process

Practice with:

  • High-fidelity prototyping
  • Iterative design
  • Stakeholder and client presentations

Skills Beyond Design

Prime’s emphasis on communication and collaboration runs through the entire experience. Students take the Clifton Strengthsfinder and learn how to build on their teammate’s abilities. Sessions on effective team-based communication methods help to set the stage for positive interactions. Weekly public speaking and leadership training will help you find your voice and practice critical but often overlooked skills.

Real Industry Insights

Each week you’ll add to your professional network when Prime hosts a wide variety of friendly speakers from the Twin Cities design and dev community. Guests share context on the industry and expose you to new, different and sometimes opposing perspectives on the technology, techniques and philosophy shaping modern software. All this will help you to develop your own unique outlook on the field you’re entering.

Career Support

Prime connects students with employers searching for fresh talent, but we don’t send you in unprepared. We’ll work with you to build a resume and a portfolio of work that you can show off with pride. You’ll receive coaching on interviewing strategies from your instructors as well as actionable feedback from industry recruiters and local hiring managers who spend time with you at a mock interview day. Prime’s industry network team are always connecting job seekers and alumni with fresh opportunities.

Meet Your Mentors

Success after Prime sometimes depends more on who you know than what you know. Through our mentor program we introduce you to smart, supportive professionals from the Twin Cities software community. During your first week in the classroom, we pair small groups of students with a few working developers (including one Prime alum who understands exactly the rigors and rewards of your education). You’ll meet bi-weekly with your mentor group for advice and insights to help kick-start your new career.

Career Day

The culmination of all this preparation is career day, a remarkable opportunity to interview with multiple employers excited about Prime and eager to speak with you. Prime’s huge network of employers means there are always companies ready to talk to you about open positions. Not every student lands their first breakthrough connections from career day, but every graduate benefits by shaking off their entry-level interviewing butterflies and gaining confidence in speaking about themselves and their portfolios.

Tuition To Change Your Future

Your tuition supports Prime’s industry-leading instruction staff, excellent student-to-teacher ratio, development of our employer network and ongoing curriculum development. Tuition covers instruction and required software. Students are responsible for their own transportation, meals and living expenses during the program (though our lunchroom is always stocked with bananas).

Tuition Out of Pocket

$13,750

Details:

  • $1,500 due on acceptance
  • $12,250 due week 7
  • Includes $500 prepayment discount

Tuition Financing

$14,250 + interest

Details:

  • $1,500 due on acceptance
  • $12,750 financed through Skills Fund or Climb
  • Living expenses ($1,500/month) can be borrowed
  • 3 and 5 year repayment terms are available

REQUIRED COMPUTER HARDWARE

Having access to a computer you call your own is a critical part of achieving mastery as a software engineer. To provide a consistent experience we've standardized on Apple laptops (running a current version of OS X). If you aren't sure if your computer meets these specifications or want help selecting a laptop for Prime . Prime will provide you with an external monitor for use in the classroom.

MSP TechHire Support

We’re proud to partner with The City of Minneapolis and Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis to bring Prime to diverse Minneapolis residents who would be otherwise unable to afford the program. The application process screens and verifies eligibility for student aid (household income must be "very low" based on the CDBG income table). Eligible students may receive grants to cover up to 100% of tuition. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis so apply today.

Diversity Scholarships

Logo diversity

Prime and our partners are committed to building a diverse tech community in Minnesota. To encourage people of color pursuing tech careers, Prime Digital Academy grants a $500 scholarship to each person of color accepted into the program.

Our Employer Network

Prime is about preparing people for jobs designing and developing software and we’re working hand-in-hand with industry employers to produce excellent outcomes for students. Below are just a few of the well over 100 companies that contribute to student success by providing curriculum feedback, offering apprenticeships, mentoring students and hiring graduates.

Know an employer looking for talent?

We're always happy to meet organizations excited about emerging talent. Interested companies can reach us at to learn more about how to get involved.

Start Your Future Today

Join Our Community

Build skills to support a career in software while establishing lifelong connections. Passionate about problem solving, technology and learning? You belong here.

START YOUR APPLICATION NOW

Apply before the next deadline!

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