December 2023 Edition

Magazine style cover photo with bold text. In Serif font, “The Ultimate Conversation design”, and in sans font, “Course Guide” by elaineinthebay. Behind, a photo of a laptop open on a desk. It’s nighttime in the photo. A small desk lamp shines on a book on the desk and a globe being used as decor behind the desk.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post. The idea for a course catalog of conversation design courses has been parked in my drafts for the entire year. This was originally supposed to be titled, “The 2023 guide to conversation design courses,” but here we are, mid-December and I only now summoned up the courage to jot down my thoughts on this massively intimidating subject. The last time I personally recommended learning resources— let’s just say a few brands weren’t particularly enthusiastic I left them off the list. But that’s not how it works. I don’t get paid to write. I only mention the conversation design resources that would’ve found helpful when I first transitioned into conversation design a few years ago.

Of course, I do have to mention the previous posts that were the inspiration for this one! Where would the world be without the lasting impact of Voice Tech Global? In the first listicle of its kind, Polina Cherkashyna, one of the three co-founders of VTG, published the 2019 guide of conversation design courses (which has since been deprecated). Following this example, Inga Café-Ruoff published an updated 2002 list on the VTG publication, called, “The Ultimate List of Conversation Design Courses”. Inga’s list in particular was the Medium blog post I would reference multiple times a week. I literally cannot express how valuable this compilation was. On my own, I wouldn’t have known such courses even existed! I think this problem still holds true today. Except for the Conversation Design Institute, few others have the SEO to really be easily accessible to the average CxD noob.

The goal of this post is to provide facts, links, pricings, and compiled feedback (when available) for the courses that are active today (or soon!), as of the last month of 2023. While this information can help you decide if you would want to take a certain course— and Polina also delved into this subject with “Selecting the right conversation design course”— this post does not explicitly answer the question of, “Are employers expecting to see a CxD certification on my job application?” The answer is “it depends”. Not all conversation design roles or teams are alike, so the requirements are not really standardized. Also, based on my own experience, most hiring managers are looking for qualities or soft skills that go beyond the online course certification. Whether or not you need a certificate depends on you, and the confidence you bring to the interviews.

Okay, let’s get started.

CxD Certification Courses: The Bootcamps 🥾

Conversation Design Institute (CDI) — Conversation Designer Bundle
🔗Course Page
Format: Self-paced, 130+ video lectures + quizzes + final exam
Length: Estimated 4 hours per week for 8 weeks
Price: $1,749
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Both
Other Learning Resources: There are 2 other certification bundles, along with individual courses (CDI) or partner courses (external collaborations). As a student, you will also gain access to exclusive live webinars with prominent guest speakers. Content is also continuously updated to keep up with industry trends.

CDI Student Review(s):
My friend Aliena Cai featured a review of CDI on her youtube channel last year. Aliena’s background is in computer science and design, so it was fun to talk to her about her first impressions about conversation design and ask her about the course. She mentioned this course was easy to follow and the video format really worked for her. Upon deeper probing, I would say: this course by itself would be insufficient to prepare someone like Aliena, despite her strong UX work experience (at that time she was at eBay), to successfully transition into the CxD career.

CDI as a starting point is amazing. New designers can really depend on CDI to get them trained on the fundamentals. CDI also does an exceptional job in welcoming new students into the conversation design community, providing them with a HUGE resource library, including past privately hosted events and connection opportunities. This can be invaluable for someone who has 0 knowledge about design or working in tech.

👀 Elaine’s notes on CDI
CDI is the most popular certification option out there, but it’s also the most expensive one. Thankfully, they haven’t changed their pricing for more than 2 years (the bundle used to be $949 at the time of Inga’s review, then $999, then it increased to its current price sometime around autumn 2021). I wouldn’t be elaineinthebay if I didn’t try to find a discount I could share. You can use the code ALIENA to get 25% discount for this certificate! Find it at this referral link.

UX Content Collective (UXCC) a.k.a. Hillary Black’s course
🔗Course Page
Format: Self-paced, written lectures + (new) video lectures + slack discussion forums + grader feedback + final project + final exam
Length: 10–20 hours, depends on how much you invest in the final project
Price: originally $550, right now $440 with site-wide discount!
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Chat
Other Learning Resources: Students gain access to Voiceflow (previously Botmock before their acquisition).

UXCC Student Review(s):

“[T]he feedback I received in this course is worth the money. It was in-depth feedback, and I even re-submitted my work three times and received feedback each time.”

“The lessons were helpful and I could start using what I learned right away. I liked how each lesson prepared me for the final project, which was fun and challenging. I learned a lot about chatbot design, including flows, brand guidelines, and best practices, and building a prototype in Voiceflow. The feedback I received from the grader helped me improve my final project, and I now I proudly display it on my portfolio site. Overall, I recommend this course to anyone interested in chatbot development. It was just the right length, and the online format was very convenient.”

“This one was the only [conversation design course] where I came out with a project I could put in my portfolio. It gave me “hands on” experience.”

👀 Elaine’s notes on UXCC
A lot of writers come here, either from UX writing, copywriting, or people new to the field entirely. This course is taught by Hillary Black, co-founder of Mav, who specializes in marketing and SMS chatbots (the chat side of CxD). Students do not get directly exposed to Voice User Interface (VUI) design, but they can choose to explore it and discuss throughout the class. You can use the the code FriendsChat15, which is good for 15% off!

CareerFoundry (CF) — Voice User Interface Design Course
🔗Course Page
Format: Cohort structure, written lectures + slack discussion forums + 3 mentor calls + 3 VUI final projects
Length: 2 months at a pace of 15–20 hours per week
Price: $1900, or $800 upfront then $400 per month for 3 months
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Voice
Other Learning Resources: You’ll be using a tool for user flows (e.g. Omnigraffle or Google Draw), as well as an Amazon device, like Echo Dot or Echo Show to test your Alexa skills. If you don’t have one, you can use the Amazon developer console.
Next Cohort: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2024

CF Student Review(s):

“Pros: I was assigned a personal mentor, an industry expert, who would solve my doubts, assess and approve all my assignments, and give feedback. This was a major deciding factor for me. I did not want to read a bunch of course material and give some random online tests. Feedback from my mentor, a Voice Design expert, has been invaluable for me. He was always available and provided me with additional resources to help me understand and learn better.”

“Cons: You only get 3 phone calls with your mentor for the course duration. Though I could reach out to my mentor over chat and always received prompt replies, I wish CF increased the no. of calls.”

— From Shraddha Singh’s review on Medium

From the CF interview with alumni Gabrielle Moskey, who went on to work as a Conversation Designer at Geico and later joined the CxD team at Meta!

“My mentor was the glue that made everything happen — sometimes I had lots of questions and wasn’t sure what was happening, and I would just kind of unload on her. She was so supportive — what a cheerleader! I mean, do they get cheerleader training? It was exactly what I needed: positive reinforcement to keep me going. She’d always direct to the right places to get more information, and it never seemed like I was annoying her or taking up her time.

—Read the rest of the interview here.

👀 Elaine’s Notes on CF
The mentor pairing seems to be this course’s biggest selling point. Unfortunately, the content is text-heavy (very few videos) and may not be suitable for all learning styles. Additionally, the course is loosely termed “self-paced” but it does require some structured pacing to avoid losing access to the course material. You can use this affiliate link (courtesy of Shraddha) to get a 5% discount!

Domestika — Introduction to Conversational Interface Design
🔗Course Page
Format: Self-paced, video lectures + discussion forums + final project
Length: 15 lessons (2h 6m)
Price: typically $8.99, max $39.99
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Voice
Other Learning Resources: Jesús compiles many different additional reading in each of the units.
Languages: This is recorded in Spanish with English subtitles.

Domestika Student Review(s):

Jesús es increíble para enseñar, este curso me ha ayudado a innovar desde el punto de vista del diseño de interfaces conversacionales y a crear proyectos que se adaptaban a las necesidades de mis clientes. ¡100% recomendado!

👀 Elaine’s Notes on Domestika
This course is jam-packed with introductory concepts, principles, and easy-to-follow thought exercises. I’m still amazed at how much value Jesús Martín Jiménez was able to insert into this short, 2-hour curriculum. It’s also the cheapest option out there! Generous value for the price. Domestika runs sales on their platform pretty much every other week, so there’s no discount code to share.

[NEW] Maven — Designing for Usability in Chat and Voice
🔗Course Page
Format: Cohort structure, 90-minute live sessions with a mix of brief lectures, activities, and Q&A.
Length: 2 weeks
Price: $900
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Both
Next Cohort: Jan 3–12, 2024

No student reviews since this one is completely new!

👀 Elaine’s Notes on Maven
If you have the money, do not miss this one. Heidi and Rebecca are both legends in the industry, and there’s so much lived experienced that they can both share, as well as well-formed frameworks for how to approach design work in Conversational AI. A sure do-not-miss! From now until December 20, you can save $100 the course fee with the code EARLYBIRD.

CxD Certification Courses: One-Time “Webinars” 🎟️

I couldn’t write this blog post without mentioning my own master class.
IxDF — Conversation Design: Practical Tips for AI Design
🔗Course Page (Recorded on Nov 8, 2023)
Format: 1 hour recorded master class + Q&A
Price: $50 or $5 for IxDF members
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Both with a focus on how Conversational AI has brought us to Large Language Models.

Voxable — Introduction to Conversational Design
🔗Course Page (Released Oct 2021)
Format: 20 hours to complete the course’s 38 video lessons and 7 activities
Price: $299 (couldn’t find any discount)
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Both, build experiences for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and the Web.

Udemy — The Voice Course: UX, UI, Strategy & Design
🔗Course Page (Released: April 2020)
Format: 4.5 hours on-demand video
Price: $199.99 or less with Udemy’s site-wide sales
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Voice

Cognigy — Conversation Design Course
🔗Course Page
Format: 3 hours to complete video lectures + quizzes
Price: Free
CxD Focus (chat or voice): Both

Honorable Mentions

  • LinkedIn Learning — UX for Voice: Planning and Implementation
    🔗Course Page (Released: 5/11/2018, a little outdated)
  • Learners & Voiceflow — Designing Conversational Experiences
    🔗Course Page
  • ChatBot — Chatbot Designer Online Course
    🔗Course Page
  • Trailhead by Salesforce — Conversation Design Module
    🔗Course Page
  • Udemy — Introduction to Voice Interface Design
    🔗Course Page

Discontinued Bootcamps & Courses 🚫

🪦 Voice Tech Global’s Conversational UX Courses
Alumni Spotlight: Summer Zhang (Canada 🇨🇦)

👀 Elaine’s Notes on VTG (written in 2021)
The only “live” cohort course in the market right now. Instructors are all based out of Toronto. There are weekly lectures and workshops (EST time), with weekly office hours as well. A new feature available in the FCXD course — which wasn’t offered when I took it — is the 1:1 mentoring. Very positive reviews from ex-students! As an alumna, I’m extremely biased, but this is the best CxD course out there because of the hands-on help with the capstone project & presentation. Elaine certified™

🪦 Digital Assistant Academy’s Voice Interaction Design (with optional Career Coaching)
Example price: 3 months for $1,997

👀 Elaine’s Notes on DAA (written in late 2021)
This institute was founded by Shyamala Prayaga, currently the senior Product Manager for Deep Learning at NVIDIA, previously PM at Ford (Digital Assistant). Shyamala is one of the top 40 Voice AI Influencers and has impeccable standing the the Voice/CxD communities. Students learn CxD principles and work on several capstone projects (not just portfolio stuffers). Alumni from this course also have access to a big network of Conversational AI employers. The understanding is: if you want to get hired, you take this course.

🪦 Maven’s Conversational AI Masterclass
Description: Industry experts from Alexa AI and Google show you real-life case studies and frameworks so you can design and build successful AI products.

👀 Elaine’s Notes on Maven’s CAI class
This program boasts only 1 proud alumni with a glowing review, but went otherwise unnoticed in the CxD community.

Mención especial: cursos en español 🌎

Lo que sigue a continuación es una lista de los cursos o talleres que he encontrado acerca del tema de diseño conversacional. La mayoría solo ofrecen inscripciones una vez y luego desaparecen. Ojalá en el futuro podamos ver más selección y variedad.

I sincerely wish you the best on your journey into conversation design! I would hope there were more consistent options for course offerings, but as a fast-paced niche field with scattered learnings and resources, we’re doing the best we can. I will also point out that certification courses are only 1 tool available to you. There are free educational resources, namely: webinars or podcasts, about Conversational AI and design. The students who find the most success (that I’ve met) have used all tools at their disposal, including the free ones.

Happy learning!

Elaine Anzaldo is a seasoned Conversation Designer, having worked on voice technologies at companies such as Meta, NLX, Apple, and SRI International. As a designer for both influential voice assistants and the customer self-service industry, she has created natural conversational artifacts for voice, chat, and multimodal interfaces. Elaine is deeply passionate about designing for AI and exploring the benefits and implications of this cutting-edge technology. In her spare time, Elaine is an evangelist for Conversational AI, promoting her discipline via mentorships and articles about Conversation Design and co-producing the Voice This! Podcast and Voice This! Newsletter.

To learn more about Elaine or her work, visit her LinkedIn or Instagram.

The Ultimate Conversation Design Course Guide was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.