A few months ago at work, I and the other web designer got lynda.com accounts. After test-driving it for a few months, I have to say that my employer’s money was well spent! lynda.com is a great web design learning resource!

A quick history: lynda.com is an online training website that, as of this post, offers over 54,000 courses on web design, graphic design and web development. It covers a wide array of topics: from beginner’s level ActionScript to advanced Adobe Illustrator skills. All of their courses are instructor-led and stored online (meaning you can take each course at your own pace). Most exercises require that you create code as the instructors speaks but you can save time and download a course’s exercise files if you sign up for one of the premium packages. Along with design and development courses, lynda.com also offers video lectures from a wide array of design and artistic experts. If you don’t want to take a course online, DVDs of all the courses and lectures are for sale through the website.

How I Tested

Roughly 75% of my lynda.com test drive consisted of going through courses around skill-sets that I needed to improve. At the time, that meant I went through most their ActionScript 3 and JavaScript-related courses along with their PHP/MySQL and .NET courses. Each course lasted an average of six hours of and took me an average of five days to complete. 20% consisted of me reviewing only a few chapters of certain courses, just so I can get the answers I needed, mostly PhotoShop. The remaining 5% consisted of going through some of the lecture videos. I also had a premium account and access to all the exercise files.

Results

I may not have gone through all 54,000 courses but I can tell you that the following was true for each one that I took:

  • the course instructors and lecturers were clear and knew exactly what they were talking about.
  • the courses assisted me in solving a problem or a set of problems.
  • the exercises that I performed produced exactly what the course instructors said that they would.

Who Will Get The Most Out Of Lynda

Without question, graphic designers and front-end web developers will get the most bang for the buck out of Lynda…especially PhotoShop freaks.

The About Lynda documentary from October 2009 (viewable here) boasted that the site contained 333 Adobe-related courses. So that’s more than enough content for burgeoning and established illustrators, desktop publishers and web designers. But of those 333 Adobe courses, 83 of them were PhotoShop-based. And as this documentary is a year old as of this post, there are definitely more than that now.

[![Photoshop tutorials][4]][4]

The depth of the PhotoShop courses highlight lynda.com’s key strength. PhotoShop is an insanely dense application in terms of features and functions. Lynda does a great job of trying to break up the density by offering courses on specific PhotoShop topics such as smart objects, selection methods and photo retouching. The InDesign, Ilustrator, Flash and other like courses cover their respected topics in the same way, but PhotoShop does it the best.

[]: http://www.lynda.com/home/photoshop.aspx?utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=ldc_affiliate&utm_content=550&utm_campaign=CD2146&bid=550&aid=CD2146&opt=

Front-end web developers also will benefit from Lynda. JavaScript, AJAX, and ActionScript fans will find more than enough content to keep them coming back to the site, ActionScript in particular. I’ve gone through two of the AS courses myself and was quire happy with them.

Who Will NOT Get The Most Out Of Lynda

While there are courses on more-structured programming and database development, there may not be enough to justify lynda.com’s subscription price if that’s all you want to learn.

Lynda does provide ASP.NET, PHP/MySQL and Ruby courses and the like. I went through courses for the first two subjects and definitely learned something but unlike Lynda’s PhotoShop setup, where I can finish one course and then hop onto another one, there are only a few courses that I can take after those. As far as hardcore programming goes, there are two iPhone SDK courses on lynda; so there’s some Objective-C offerings. There is, however, no C course which I, personally, would like to see.

It’s key to point out that Lynda most likely only offers courses on the most-requested topics. Since the site definitely attracts more designers than developers, it’s doubtful that a lot of requests for programming courses come in. And regarding database development, applications like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal (all of which have courses on Lynda) reduce the a designer’s need for back-end database developers (at least on a freelance level), so such courses may be a tad redundant. Plus, Lynda adds courses on all subjects with great frequency so more courses for the above-mentioned topics may be coming. Just know going in that as of now, there are a limited amount of courses on extensive web and software development on Lynda.com.

The Instructors and Lecturers

Top-notch on both counts.

Most of the Adobe-related courses are taught by Adobe Certified instructors. Past that, the AJAX course is taught by JavaScript uber-guru Dori Smith while search engine expert Jill Whalen’s SEO Optimization course was quite informative. All the course instructors knew exactly what they were talking about.

Lecture-wise, Lynda is pretty interesting. Most of their lectures are listed under the “Creative Inspiration” section, giving you an idea of their overall subject matter. Both Rick Smolan and Douglas Kirkland talk up photography quite succinctly. The lead illustrator of tokidoki, the cutting edge, Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand demonstrate their workflow. And music types will really enjoy lectures from the likes of DJ Jason Bentley and Devo frontman (and Yo Gabba Gabba regular) Mark Motherbaugh. The pleasant surprise for me was the graphic designer documentary directed by Hillman Curtis.

Price

On the individual level, Lynda offers both a monthly an annual subscription price. Each price structure offers two pricing tiers: one for just the courses and one for courses and the exercise files. My lynda.com experience convinced me that having the exercise files is a must, especially for the developer-related courses. If you’re on a budget, I’d suggest starting off with the monthly subscription with exercise files for $37.50. If you have the cash (and the time) go for the yearly subscription at $375.00.