The UX of Certification

A certification is a promise from the company to the management of the customer.  It means that if you (the customer) hires someone who passes the certification that we (the company) promise that they will be competent and even skilled at working the product.

Certifications are sometimes done well and sometimes done poorly. One way it can go wrong is if the test is too easy.  You end up with all these people who are certified, but are not competent.  It’s a feel good test, that gets lots of people to put the stamp on their LinkedIn profile, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Another way it can go wrong is that it is too hard to pass, specifically because the education is sub-standard. If it is too difficult to find resources, to practice on the product, to get education, then passing will seem like an impossible task.  If this is the case, then people will not bother trying.

The balance is achieved when the test is difficult, but the educational materials are ample and quality.  With good educational materials (including classes in colleges, trade schools and online) are abundant and useful, it creates a system where people can study and achieve the goal.

When that system is in place, employers can rely on the quality of the people who they assign to work on the product.  Thus they feel more comfortable with buying the product in the first place.  Good certification creates a virtuous cycle towards profitability.  Skilled users = confident buyers = more sales.

If you can get your company in a position where the certification is the best, you have a chance of getting a monopoly in your sector.  It’s that critical and impactful.

How much braintrust energy does your company focus on this critical facet of the UX?

Speaking of which, it’s time for me to write more certification questions.  I am personally engaged to help.  It’s one of my top 3 UX priorities.

Whatya think?