First Person to be UX Certified by Nielsen Norman Group
Ian Thompson, IT Solutions Architect for the West Sussex County Council in Chichester, UK graced his first and only Usability Week in June, 2014 in London. Attending to learn UX skills, he had no idea that within a few days after returning home he would become the first person to be UX Certified by Nielsen Norman Group.
After getting the news, Ian shared his thoughts. “My line management were very pleased that I received this Certification. The courses give the knowledge to work with and challenge our delivery partners and the Certification will allow me to achieve credibility in these endeavors. Loved the courses. All the trainers were highly knowledgeable and approachable throughout the courses.”
Ian participated in our Certification pilot testing program as we refined the exam process after our Usability Weeks in London, Amsterdam, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Ian is first on a very short list of people certified after participating in the pilot testing. He described the process of becoming UX Certified, “Overall I was very impressed with the courses despite a long 6 days of training. The exams are a great end to the courses. The process for getting certified was very simple and easy to follow. Emails were sent through with the link to the appropriate exam and most of the sign up information was pre-populated.”
Before Usability Week, Ian considered himself to be fairly new to UX design and research, though in his recent work on developing a new Intranet site for Council employees he gave usability feedback in addition to his QA testing. He explained, “I have always been interested in ensuring that IT systems are usable and provide a good experience.” He plans to put his training and new UX Certification to good use as he is currently working on launching a new website to replace the Council’s current public-facing website. He says that UX will play a large role in the new design, “This will take account of current best practices and modern UX design. Key to this will be developing the site with users to ensure that it meets the needs of our residents. The design aim is that people will choose to use the site for most transactions rather than other methods of contact because it is better, quicker and easier.”
With these plans in mind, for his Usability Week curriculum Ian selected a set of foundational courses to suit needs, including the following:
He found these courses to be instructional, noting, “For someone new to UX, the courses gave a wide range of options and presented a lot of information in a relatively short time. The pace of the courses was fast and interesting. Understanding the psychology behind UX was key to me for seeing why designs are successful – great use of examples and the videos of people using applications and websites really drove home the benefits of good UX design.”
Participating in 5 or more courses is the first step in UX Certification. Next is passing an exam with a score of 80% or higher for each course attended. The 80% may seem high to some, but according to Ian, it is attainable. “The exams felt fair for representing the content that was covered in the courses. I consulted the slides where there were specific lists of items that I needed to check but otherwise did the exams from memory. I felt the questions did a good job of not only testing the knowledge but, more importantly, the understanding of the subject.”
And describing the Practical section of the exams, where applied knowledge is tested, “Many of the questions needed an actual understanding of the subject. This is a far better test than a pure memory check.”
The time commitment for the online exams is fairly low, with exams taking 25 minutes on average to complete. For Ian each exam took him about 20 minutes to complete.
After submitting his exam responses, he noted that, “It was a relatively short wait before the email came through with the results of the exam. One of the exams I did just miss [passing] on the first try. I got a 78%, so close, but improved to 88% on the second run through.”
We allow people to take exams up to three times, though the exam questions on second or third tries are usually not that same as the first try. Questions in the exam are randomly drawn from a larger set written for each course. And people have 30 days to pass. But Ian was able to compete them much quicker than that, sharing, “I did all of the exams in a single day. The process was easy to follow and joining the exams was a simple link.”
You Will be Notified if You Have Attended Usability Week
NN/g will be sending an email to everyone who participates in Usability Week (or in-house training if agreed upon) with a summary of courses taken, and links to the exams. If people are not interested in UX Certification, they do not need to partake. If they are interested, they will be asked to pay a small administrative fee for each exam they take.
For people who have attended Usability Week after 1 January, 2012, courses taken do count toward UX Certification. We will be emailing people before 1 September, 2014 with their course tracking and exam information. So if you attended Usability Week in 2012 or after, please watch your inbox for a message from us at the end of August. (If you do not hear from us before 1 September, 2014 or your email address has changed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and new email address.)
After passing 5 exams, UX Certified people will receive the notification via email, which will also include information about how to log in to the UX Certification portal, and download a badge and certificate. Ian reported that his notification came very quickly, “Once all the exams were complete I had less than a 20-minute wait before I received the good news that I had received certification. All in all a very slick process that works well. What else could I expect from UX experts?”
Is UX Certification for You?
According to Ian, yes. “I would definitely recommend others to go for certification. The exams are testing but not daunting. The simple nature of the process means there are few barriers to going for Certification. Even as a newbie to UX I felt confident after the training that I had the knowledge and understanding to be able to go for Certification. The courses really do give you everything you need and being able to use the slides acts as a useful reminder to trigger those memories of the course.”
Please Join Us
For 15 years Nielsen Norman Group has strived to offer intensive full-day training courses that teach best practices in design as well as sound UX research methods. For almost as long, attendees and clients have asked for UX Certification. We recognize that many people will want to attended Usability Week or our in-house training as they always have, solely for the sake of learning or refreshing skills and knowledge. Thus, UX Certification is not required. But for those, like Ian, who would like to test themselves and express an added credential, they can now do that. With pleasure, we are launching Nielsen Norman Group’s new UX Certification Program and we hope you will join us! Read more about NN/g UX Certification.