Principles of Product Design

Reflections on our UX
Skill Tracker

Reflections on our UX <br>Skill Tracker

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
W. Edwards Deming

At Handsome, we try to be rigorous in our pursuit of growth. One area where we are currently trying to grow is how we track growth (we try to be as meta with things as possible :-). Because improvement is difficult when there is no criteria or benchmark to work from, we wanted to create a system for tracking our growth without creating something that was burdensome to update.

Two quarters ago, our UX practitioners  started prototyping what we affectionately refer to as our “UX Skill Tracker.” It’s basically a Google spreadsheet with 90+  skills successful designers could possess. Each quarter, each member of the UX team scores him or herself on a scale of 1-10 across all 90+ skills, and then selects 3-5 skills to concentrate on. At the end of each quarter, we note our progress, or in some cases, regression (we’ll talk about regression later).


Below is an outline of our structure for this document.

chart

 

Tools

  • These are skills related to how quickly our team can use various tools ranging from a DSLR camera to Quartz Composer.

Production

  • The speed and craft to produce specific deliverables such as wireframes, system maps, and user personas.

Facilitation

  • Skills relating to conducting conversations, workshops, meetings and interviews.

Character

  • The soft, more persistent aspects of a person that make them a source of positivity and energy on product teams.

Not Interested

  • We can’t be good at everything. These are skills a team member would have no interest in growing in.

Accountability

  • Everyone gets busy, so we write down specific actions or practices to stay accountable to growth in the different areas.

After implementing this tracking chart five months ago, we have had an opportunity to reflect on its usefulness. Below are some initial thoughts.

  • Quarterly updates felt too frequent, so we decided to check in on our progress every 4 months (rather than every 3).
  • Scores are very subjective, and that is ok. Our hypothesis is that as we become a more cohesive team, we’ll develop a shared scale relating to our strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This takes time, and this skill tracker serves as a tool for developing that shared understanding.
  • People don’t regress, they re-calibrate. As we grow in any field, we improve in our ability to evaluate our work in its wider context, and we become more acutely aware of how much we need to improve. This is normal. All that we ask of our designers who have “regressed” is to take note of how their understanding of a skill or their own practice has evolved.
  • Staying on top of accountability tactics is tough. We are actively working on creating more mind space for our directors to make sure each practice is growing in healthy ways.

Here’s to never being satisfied with where you are, and being grateful for having a job where there is always room for improvement. What tools and methods do you use to keep track of your self-improvement? Tweet us @Handsomemade with your tips and tricks.

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