100 Free Cutting-Edge Courses for Web Developers & Designers

Posted: 03/10/2009 in free stuff, How to...., Tutorial

If you’re a web developer or designer, you don’t need to head back to school to refresh yourself on the basics or to learn about some of the newest additions and information in the field. Instead, you can take courses that are offered for free online that can offer you much of the same helpful information to build better websites and bring in more clients. Here are just a few courses that cover a wide range of business, design and development topics that are pertinent to the industry today and it’s movement into the future.

Design Basics

Whether you need a refresher on some design essentials or just want a place to have a reference, these courses will keep you on the cusp of design of all kinds.

  1. Digital Typography: Learn all about how typography can be changed and modified and used in new ways in the digital age from this course. [MIT]
  2. Art of Color: This undergraduate level course will teach you the basics of using color in the visual arts. [MIT]
  3. Introduction to the Elements of Design: This course will take you through the fundamentals of good design, from using lines wisely to balancing your designs effectively. [About.com]
  4. Design: Check out this course to get some insights into the thought process that should go behind your designs. [Open University]
  5. Color Theory 101: You may have a natural ability to use colors well, but this course will teach you the theory behind why certain things look good and others not so much. [Planet Photoshop]
  6. Information Visualization: This course will help you learn the best ways to transform information from raw data into easily understandable visual representations. [U of British Columbia]
  7. Historical Foundations of Visual Technology: This course will take you on an informative journey through the history of visual culture and the technology that has allowed it to spread. [DePaul]
  8. Principles of Design: This multi-instructor course will teach students advanced design theories and script analysis. [MIT]
  9. Fundamentals of Computational Media Design: Through this course you will learn about the history of art and design from a more technological perspective. [MIT]
  10. Designing the user interface: text, colour, images, moving images and sound: This course addresses the basics of designing websites and programs that are easy to use and look good. [Open University]
  11. Choosing Display Typography: Take this course to learn how to use a font that best suits your needs. [Sessions]
  12. Analyzing Color: Through this course you’ll learn how to better use color in Photoshop. [Sessions]
  13. Visual Elements: If you want to head back to the essentials of design, give this course a try to learn about line and color. [Sessions]
  14. Electronic Publishing and Design: If you want to learn to make great electronic publications that are well-designed, this course can help. [College of Charleston]

Programming and Development Basics

Learn new skills and improve your existing ones with these free courses.

  1. Creating Interactive Media: While this course was designed with educators in mind, it can also be enlightening for those working on the other side of creating educational technologies as well. [University of Southern Queensland]
  2. Computer Graphics: Check out this course to learn about the programming algorithms that exists behind computer graphics. [MIT]
  3. Advanced Computer Graphics: In this course you’ll learn about the programming aspects of designing computer graphics. [U of Virginia]
  4. Software Engineering for Web Applications: If your websites will have software on them, check out this course for programmers with a little experience who want to learn more about creating great software and keeping info secure. [MIT]
  5. Introduction to Multimedia Programming: From HTML to understanding multimedia, this course covers a range of programming and web issues. [Monash]
  6. Algorithms for Computer Animation: Learn all the fancy math that goes on behind the computer animations in video games and online. [MIT]
  7. Web Programming: Here students will learn some of the basic programming language and techniques for designing interactive web pages. [U of Washington]
  8. Intermediate Web Development: From e-commerce to web hosting, this site addresses some of the most important fundamentals of web development. [College of Charleston]
  9. Webpage Authoring: This introductory course focuses on teaching students HMTL. [Sofia]
  10. Web Programming, Development, & Data Integration: Take this course to learn more about the technological side of web development. [Purdue]
  11. Weekly Web Design Class: Check out this About.com site to get weekly tips and courses about web design. [About.com]
  12. Foundations of Software Engineering: Here you can learn about the foundations of engineering and information technology that help make software accessible and popular. [MIT]
  13. Introduction to Web Design: Get familiarized with HTML, CSS, Binary, Linux and more through this course. [Indiana University]


Learn how to build incredibly user-friendly websites and programs with these helpful courses.

  1. People-centered Designing: Check out this course to learn the fundamentals of creating accessible sites and designs. [Open University]
  2. Designing the User Interface: Learn how to create an online interface that won’t turn potential customers away through this course. [Open University]
  3. Human Computer Interaction: This course will teach you how people interact with computers so you’re better able to design for them. [U of Washington]
  4. Accessibility in Interaction Design: Try this course to learn about designing for those with disabilities in mind. [Open University]
  5. Usability First: Here you’ll find a wide selection of courses to educate you on usability, from fundamentals to more advanced topics. [Foraker Design]
  6. Designing for Humans: Learn what users will expect when using your websites. [Gresham]
  7. User Interface Design and Implementation: This course will focus on design, implementation and evaluation with regard to interfaces. [MIT]
  8. Understanding Online Interaction: You can improve your online design and development by getting a better idea of how people interact over the web. [USU]

Web and Programming Languages

If you want to learn a new programming language or just find out a little more about one you’ve already tried, these courses are a great, free way to do so.

  1. Java Programming: Check out this course to learn the basics of Java programming for the web. [Sofia]
  2. Intermediate HTML: If you already have a handle on the HTML basics, take this course to learn more advanced coding. [Suite 101]
  3. XML Foundations: This course will help you learn how to program in XML. [Berkeley]
  4. Web Page Authoring: This course promises to teach you the fundamentals of using HTML. [Sofia]
  5. Multimedia & World Wide Web: Through this course you can learn coding in HTML, CSS, Java and Flash. [DePaul]
  6. A Gentle Introduction to Programming Using Python: If you’ve never done a thing with Python before, not to worry, this class takes it slow and explains it all. [MIT]
  7. Programming Languages: This course will teach you the theory and intricacies behind programming languages.[MIT]
  8. Learn and Apply HTML: Beginners can learn how to better use HTML through this course. [USU]
  9. Interactive Media Production: If you want to get a handle on using Flash on the web, take this free course. [USU]
  10. Building Programming Experience: The only way to get better at programming is to get out there and do it–just what this class asks students to do. [MIT]
  11. Java Preparation: If you know little or nothing about Java, consider this course geared towards beginners. [MIT]
  12. Essential Coding Theory: Take this course to learn about the history of coding theory and some of the earliest implementers of it. [MIT]
  13. Introduction to Software Engineering in Java: In this course, novices at Java will get a handle on how to effectively use the programming language. [MIT]
  14. Application Development & Web Infrastructure with Java Technology: Learn about some of the bigger issues in web development and data management through this course from Sun Systems. [Sun Startup]
  15. CSS: CSS is becoming an ever more popular type of code on the web, and you can learn how to use it through this course. [Land of Code]

Design Programs

Your design tools are what you make of them, and these courses will help you learn to rock your design software for all it’s worth.

  1. Illustrator CS2-Live Trace and Live Paint: Through this course you’ll learn how to use some of the new and creative features of Illustrator. [DesignMentor]
  2. Three-Dimensional Modeling, Animation and Rendering Using Blender 3D Software: Those who have an interest in 3D modeling can get a free lesson in how to do it right from this course. [Tufts]
  3. Multimedia Web Design: This course will take learners through the variety of technologies that are used to create multimedia websites. [University of Michigan]
  4. Introduction to Flash MX: If you’ve never used Flash before, taking this course can be a good leaping-off point to get started. [Sofia]
  5. Adobe Photoshop Basics: Go back to basics with this course that will teach you how to use the most essential features of Photoshop. [About.com]
  6. Flash: Improve your skills in Flash with this introductory course. [USU]
  7. Dreamweaver 8 Video Tutorials: if you’re using Dreamweaver to create great webpages, consider these tutorials to help you learn the ins and outs of the program. [Video-Tutes]
  8. Adobe In-Design CS2 Tutorials: This collection of tutorials will help you learn to really get the most out of Adobe In-Design. [Video-Tutes]
  9. QuarkXPress Tutorials: Learn how to better utilize the tools offered in this design program through these helpful lessons. [About.com]

The Internet

Learn more about the web, how to use it, and where it’s headed from these courses.

  1. The Future of the Internet: Take this course through iTunes U to get one perspective on where the internet is headed in the coming years and where you’ll need to be to meet it. [Stanford]
  2. Communicating in Cyberspace: This course focuses on the myriad of ways people talk to one another over the web, perhaps sparking an idea in you for a new development. [MIT]
  3. The Semantic Web: Learn from one of the inventors of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, what it’s all about. [MIT]
  4. Advanced Internet and Web Services: Check out this course to get a better understanding of the many technical issues that go into developing web sites. [U of Washington]
  5. Foundations of American Cyberculture: If you want to be part of cyberculture then you will do yourself a favor and learn more about it through this course. [Berkeley]
  6. Search Engines: Technology, Society and Business: Take this course to learn how search engines work–something that can come in handy when marketing your webpages.[Berkeley]

Legal Issues

Use these courses to get a better understanding of the legal issues that come up on the web, with copyrights and in business law.

  1. Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier: TheIinternet is still a bit of a Wild West, with the law struggling to keep up with new technologies. Learn about what regulation is out there today and how you can protect yourself through this course. [MIT]
  2. Introduction to Copyright Law: Ensure that your great ideas and creations stay protected by learning more about copyright law here. [MIT]
  3. Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers: This course will take you through all the legal issues you need to know about when publishing on the web. [NewsU]
  4. Information Law and Policy: Here you can learn about the basics of copyright law and other legal protections that regulate information. [UC Berkeley]
  5. Freedom of Information: This course will teach you what kind of laws there are to protect your freedom of speech. [NewsU]
  6. Law for the Entrepreneur and Manager: Check out this course to get educated on the law from a business perspective. [MIT]

New Media

The web is one of the most versatile and omnipresent new media tools. You can learn more about how to use it, its history, and media studies from these courses.

  1. Signals, Systems and Information for Media Technology: Try out this course to learn the fundamentals of signals and information theory. [MIT]
  2. Common Sense Reasoning for Interactive Applications: Those hoping to build truly great interfaces will appreciate the knowledge gained in this course. [MIT]
  3. Social Visualization: This course will help you learn how to visualize the many people who visit your sites on the web, improving your effectiveness. [MIT]
  4. Digital Anthropology: Get a handle on the way that humans interact in a social and digital environment through this course. [MIT]
  5. New Media Literacies: Taking you back to ancient Greece and working to the present day, this course examines social literacy in a variety of media from print to digital technology. [MIT]
  6. Introduction to Media Studies: This course is a great educational opportunity to become a smarter producer of media and culture. [MIT]

Special Topics

These courses address more specific topics in web design and development, from education to social media.

  1. Advanced Topics in Learning Object Design and Reuse: More experienced designers will appreciate this course that focuses on developing learning-centered websites. [Utah State University]
  2. Intro to Instructional Design: Through this course you’ll learn how to create programs and websites that facilitate learning. [Utah State University]
  3. Accessibility of eLearning: Learn why online learning opportunities could help those with disabilities, and how you can better design your sites. [Open University]
  4. Seminar in Instructional Design: Take this course to get some help learning how to design websites that work well for teaching and learning. [San Diego State University]
  5. Designing Sociable Media: Here you can learn how to design interfaces that will best foster online communications and socialization. [MIT]
  6. Technologies for Creative Learning: This course will help you learn how new technologies can help people learn things in exciting ways. [MIT]
  7. Techno-identity: Who we are and how we perceive ourselves and others: Is your online identity different than your real-life one? This course explores the notion of a techno-identity and what that means for interactions. [MIT]
  8. Economics and E-Commerce: Check out this course to learn more about the monetary side of developing great e-commerce sites. [MIT]
  9. Writing on Contemporary Issues: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace: Whether you’re writing a blog or just maintaining your website, this course will help you learn how to better publish your thoughts on the web. [MIT]
  10. Media Education and the Marketplace: Through this course you’ll learn about the rise of the web, the variety of marketplaces around the world and how people are being educated on how to use new technology. [MIT]
  11. Blogs, Wikis and New Media for Learning: This course offers users the chance to learn more about the role web technology takes on in learning. [USU]
  12. E-Commerce and the Internet in Real Estate and Construction: Learn how to build more effective real estate sites, and the role that the web plays in this market, from this free course. [MIT]

Entrepreneurship and Freelancing

While it might very often be a creative endeavor, web design and development is a business like any other. You can help boost your business skills in these courses focused on entrepreneurship, management and other business topics.

  1. Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization: Take this course to learn more about designing, running and growing your own business. [MIT]
  2. Early-Stage Capital: Those looking to get some investment in their web development projects can get great advice from this site. [MIT]
  3. Entrepreneurial Marketing: Learn how to get people to buy what you’re selling through this helpful marketing class. [MIT]
  4. Marketing Strategy: This course will help you to develop an effective marketing strategy. [MIT]
  5. The Software Business: If your website involves marketing, selling or offering software, learn more about the business behind it through this course. [MIT]
  6. Competitive Decision-Making and Negotiation: Do you know how to make good decisions under pressure and get what you want from clients? This course will give you the skills you need. [MIT]
  7. SEO Training Course: Take this course to learn how to more effectively promote your website. [GNC Web]
  8. Pricing: Is your product priced appropriately? This course will teach you how to ensure you’re getting what you deserve. [MIT]
  9. Listening to the Customer: Learn why you should listen to what your clients have to say to make your business better than ever from this course. [MIT]
  10. Starting a Business: If you’re planning on going out on your own, this course from the Small Business Administration will give you a leg up on starting up. [SBA]
  11. Strategies for Technology-Based New Business Development: This course focuses on educating you on what it takes to start a business in the technology industry. [MIT]

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