HCD Teaching Spotlight

‘Product Design: The Delft Design Approach’ online course

My work-related new year’s resolution for 2015 has been to simply to learn more. I wanted to take advantage of the the democratisation of education and complete a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

Earlier in the year I enrolled in IDEO’S Human Centred Design methods online course and I managed to successfully complete it (with the help of my London-based group of designers). You can read more about my experience with that course here. Even though during the 7 weeks of that course there had been a lot of moments were I was in the verge of quitting, somehow now,I only have fond memories of it. For that reason, I decided to enrol to another course, and decided to ‘venture out’ to the area of product design.

The Course

The ‘Product Design: The Delft Design Approach’ course aims to introduce you to the Delft Design Approach, an iterative design process they teach and use at Delft University. Through a course of 7 weeks,  you will be introduced to the techniques and methods that help you in creating successful products people love to use. The aim is to gain insight and practical experience with a number of signature methods and tools from the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology.

The course is free but they do offer a ID verified option available for $50 (around £35). You don’t have to make this decision right at the beginning of the course too, which is helpful as you can first see how the course goes before committing to it. I have personally went for the verified option partly because I wanted to received a verified certificate at the end of the course and also because paying the extra cost would make me feel more accountable to complete it and more motivated.


The course was structures along 6 steps that run over a period of 7 weeks. Each step aims to teach you a key element of the Delft Design Approach until you complete the whole ‘design cycle’ in 4 main phases: Discover, Define, Design Deliver. Each week new material is available on the site alongside details of the weekly assignment and how to submit and present it. Every week you have to finish the task you are given and share it on the discussion board for the others to see and give you feedback.

Each week of the course has the same structure:

  • an Introduction video to explain the weekly topic,
  • one ore more lecture videos (never longer than 6-7 minutes),
  • A couple of multiple choice quizzes at the end of every lecture video (3-4 questions)
  • the Design assignment, the assignment template(s)
  • a benchmark video to which you can compare your own work and
  • a sofa session video which Delft staff discuss intermediate results and raised questions on the discussion forum



This year’s exercise was to design something valuable for real users and the theme that was chosen was ‘morning rituals’.

The templates that were provided to us every week made the design task much easier to frame.  As part of the challenge, we had to come up with 3 different concepts, and narrow them down to one that we had to further define.


The assessment of exercises will together with the quizzes and the final presentation determine whether you passed the course or not. When you have earned 60% or more of the total score, you will receive a certificate.


The Details

  • I think the course is great for people who need to build on their UX portfolio to showcase examples of practical work. Throughout the 7 weeks of the course, you get to practice your design skills on a product and go through various stages of the design lifecycle and you can include a lot of the course deliverables in your UX portfolio.
  • I found this course slightly easier to manage and build the homework in my working week as it is not based on teamwork. You work by yourself, so it was much easier to plan to do the work on it whenever I had free time and work around my schedule (as opposed to having to meet up weekly with the rest of the team in order to do the work).
  • I did not care for the quizzes at the end of every weekly lecture. I feel that these were not useful , or did not really guarantee that the students listened to the entire video.
  • The lectures were kept short (which always helps!) but it was the sofa sessions that I enjoyed the most.I found these really useful and was very interesting to see how other students approached each weekly design challenge.
  • The peer review hasn’t worked well for me (but that could be partly because I uploaded my assignments quite late and didn’t allow my fellow students much time to review and give me feedback). Perhaps the teaching team might consider providing a 10 minute Skype session for students once or twice during the course. I would find that really helpful.

The course will start again too, and you can find more information about it here




1 comment on “‘Product Design: The Delft Design Approach’ online course

  1. Thanks for your review – I’m thinking of doing this course and this level of detail makes it a lot easier to decide whether the course is a good fit.

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