Designation is the leading digital design education program
The experience of attending Designation is unique. We’re not a school, bootcamp, or apprenticeship, but we use elements from all three models to provide the most effective, reality-based curriculum possible.
Above all, we base our experience and culture on preparing designers for a lifetime of learning.
Our co-founders met in a coffee shop in 2013 to compare ideas about how to provide the best possible education in UX and UI. In April 2014, we set up our first campus in a rapidly-changing part of Lincoln Park, and opened our doors to our first cohort.
Since then, we’ve grown to become the world’s largest dedicated UX/UI design program with an unparalleled curriculum, over 500 graduates, and a staff of industry experts, all within the beautifully-designed WeWork State Street.
Designation has gone through many iterations as the tech and design industries change, and throughout it all, our vision has remained the same: to be the career-defining experience for design education.
We look at where we’ve come from since 2013 and we’re speechless. We’re so thankful to everyone who’s helped us get where we are today, and we’re proof ourselves of what we teach our designers: the hard work is absolutely worth it.
“Everyone I worked with was extremely passionate about design, incredibly sharp, and super-dedicated. What surprised me most was how much they were personally invested in me. They genuinely care about helping each designer reach his/her potential and find a fulfilling career.”Cindy WangUX Researcher, Walgreens
Doug has been a creative all his professional life, with his greatest successes incorporating user-centered design. He’s been a director, content creator, and change agent for some of the world’s largest creative organizations. He cherishes the opportunities to teach others to think critically about their creative input, help designers build skills that solve real problems, and guide the creation of digital experiences that delight and surprise. In his spare time, he’s a father and husband, artist, and explorer of new and emerging technology.
After years in non-profit communications, video production, and digital media in Massachusetts, Courtney found her way to Chicago with a ragtag group of comedic improvisers. As a digital media enthusiast with a passion for collaboration, she’s happy to be on the dynamic and talented Designation team.
When Aaron was a kid, he built computers and wrote programs in MS-DOS. He realized digital design as the ultimate frontier for technology, and co-founded Designation to help make creativity thrive in our virtual world. He’s an experienced business operations consultant through his years as a startup entrepreneur and public accountant.
Dan Hopewell is a designer and front-end developer with a background in painting and printmaking. He consumes himself daily in the science and aesthetics of experience, and finds enduring hope in art and design’s ability to make the improbable real.
Mike Joosse creates change within organizations. Since 2001, he’s devoted his career to nurturing and leading design communities and championing the talents and dedication of their designers. At Designation, he helps participants become purposeful, skilled, impassioned design leaders of tomorrow. He has lectured across the country on community and careers in design, at conferences and to a host of organizations. He believes in being hungry, indispensable, and enthralled every day.
Megan is driven by the responsibility to use design as a catalyst for social change. She joined the Designation team with the shared mission of reshaping education to focus on community, adaptability, and active learning. When she’s not covered in sticky notes, she’s diving into a new letterpress project, reorganizing her coin collection, or struggling to keep her houseplants alive.
James is an experience designer who’s helped launch the careers of 100+ designers. Prior to joining Designation, James worked as a front-end developer and graphic designer in St. Louis. He’s inspired by everything around him and loves to help others succeed. In his free time, he hangs out with his dogs, plays music, and designs websites.
Head of Marketing
Sarah comes to Designation with an eagerness to communicate the life-changing stories of its designers. She’s led multi-channel marketing campaigns for a wide range of industries and clients, from the largest beauty retailer in the US, hospitals, and credit unions, to non-profits and tech startups. She believes that all brands, no matter their size, have a unique opportunity to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level with their audiences.
Virtual Phase, UX track
Adam has been designing for the web since the days of dial-up and Microsoft Frontpage, with a focus on UX for the past decade. He’s worked at organizations from global corporations to family-sized agencies, always advocating for user-centered design. He’s currently Senior Product Designer for Sprout Social in Chicago, and his favorite aspect is speaking with users to fully understand how design can make their lives easier.
Virtual Phase, UI track
Jancy Liu was born in Taiwan, hopped around with her mum and Air Force father until she put down roots in California. Though totally a liberal west coaster, she’s since found her home in the midwest with her husband and new babe. Jancy calls herself a hands-on design director specializing in platforms of all sizes.
Fun facts: Her favorite hero is Batman; she admires Yvon Chouinard; in her spare time, she drinks whiskey and rides motorcycles(but not at the same time); and she’s especially inspired by nature.
Virtual Phase, UX track
Joshua is a product designer for Centro. He has a background in publishing and once ran an online magazine highlighting the intersection of business and creativity. He’s driven by design’s ability to organize and make sense of information, and he believes designers are best suited to maximize the potential of new technology. He’s inspired by Richard Saul Wurman and Christopher Alexander, and enamored with the writing of Venkatesh Rao.
Download our program overview
If you’re ready to learn more about Designation before applying, download a copy of our program overview. It’s filled with details about each phase, career outcomes, and much more.
Frequently asked questions about Designation
Is Designation a design bootcamp?
While we began as a design bootcamp, we’ve evolved beyond a traditional bootcamp structure and curriculum. There are many places this change manifests, starting with the fact that everyone admitted into the program is called a “designer,” not a “student.” Bootcamps often base their complete experience on an educational student/teacher relationship, but we’ve found tremendous value in using a more professional designer/team/creative director relationship. The first half of our program is still academic, so we call our creative directors who lead those phases “instructors,” because our curriculum reflects the idea that the first half is about learning how to design. The second, in-person half is about learning how to be a designer. These are two very different but wholly important halves of being a professional designer.
We believe someone called a “student” will act like a student, but a “designer” is given authority and purpose to own their skills and act like one. We believe our past graduates chose Designation because of this differentiator—and succeed as professionals today because of it.
How much does Designation charge?
The fee for the full 24-week program is $15,800. All designers accepted into the program must pay a $1,000 nonrefundable deposit for the six-week Design Essentials (DE) phase. Every designer must pass DE in order to proceed to the rest of the program. If the designer doesn’t pass, they pay no additional fees beyond the $1,000. If the designer passes, the $1,000 deposit is applied to the full-program fee, so their next payment is $14,800. See the Paying for Designation section for answers to related questions.
Please note that this fee doesn’t cover food, room and board, or transportation costs. See the Financing page for more detail.
Where is Designation located?
Our campus is at the beautiful WeWork State Street, at the corner of State and Monroe in the Loop. We’re within a couple blocks from every L train line that passes through downtown, two blocks from Millennium Park, and a few blocks from the Chicago River. It’s remarkably easy to get here from just about anywhere in the city, and both O’Hare and Midway Airports.