Are there any guidelines out there as to what could be used to effectively convey competency at x, where x is a professional ability of some kind?

At the moment I'm dividing skills up by core and other but this is simply a text label. Have any of you UX gurus any suggestions for how best to do this? I flirted with the idea of a Venn diagram of sorts but it becomes unreadable very quickly.

Other things that have crossed my mind are sliders or ratings stars/thumbs ups but I don't know what best practice is and would love some guidance from the professionals in this arena.

The wireframe below represents my first efforts at using the tool so please be gentle ;-)


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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    Welcome to the site, @noonand! Can your clarify your question a little? At the moment, it may be a bit too broad to answer. How does this competency system work? Do people need to be able to change their competencies or the competencies of others? Do people need to view the competencies of a single individual? Or the competencies most common among a group of people? Or the list of people possessing a certain competency or set of competencies? – Graham Herrli Dec 9 '14 at 19:23
  • @3nafish This is for an internal site and what I was thinking was a self-assessment versus a manager's assessment. I've edited the original question above to give an idea of what I'm shooting for. – noonand Dec 11 '14 at 16:03

Since it is a self-assessment it is best to go simple with the stars across each skill type. You 7 stars... the first star on the left being "Noob" the 4th star being "amateur" and the 7th star being "God or Rock Star". That way, the user an self assess his level with a more quantifying degree.

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I'm assuming that you want to rate a professional's competency in a skill against the spectrum of possible competency in that skill. If that is the case, you may want to define specific levels (naïve, beginner, intermediate, advanced, master, guru, rock-star) with implied communally-held definitions. The skill name can then be followed by the ascribed competency level, perhaps using a smaller, lighter font to break up the two adjacent data elements (skill-name, and competency-level).

If on the other hand, you want to divide a professional's competency in a given skill against their competency in other related skills, a sorted list from strongest to weakest skill might be more appropriate.

-- EDIT in response to comments -- enter image description here

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  • It sounds good but what would this look like? – noonand Dec 9 '14 at 17:26

You should take a look at how linkedIn does this.

A list of skills with the number of endorsements of the skill shown to the left and profiles of people who endorsed shown to the right. Other skills with fewer endoresments are shown together at the bottom.

Their competency ratings come from other users, and they make that transparent by showing who those "99+" endorsements came from. This makes the competency feel more real and believable. I'm not sure where your ratings will come from, but having a visual that's directly connected to the data is pretty effective, and makes it feel concrete. If you want the skills to be divided up, I would stick to something visually straight forward, something in the realm of a bar or line graph.

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  • So you have a bar with 100% (or in LinkedIn's case, 99+) knowing everything. Now thinking about combining this with the specific levels, as proposed by @Henry Taylor above. Levels 1-5 with a gradient or something similar... – noonand Dec 9 '14 at 17:43
  • yeah, I think that could be pretty effective, you just want to make sure you're not adding too much information or making it redundant by having multiple visuals that all represent skill level. I could see it working well as indicating current level (say novice) and visually displaying progress towards the next level(maybe a gradient or bar moving towards "intermediate"). – Milazzo Dec 9 '14 at 17:56
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    @noonand note that those numbers aren't %. It's merely a count of people. So it's not really useful comparing person a to person b. – DA01 Dec 9 '14 at 20:09

I don't know if this will give you any ideas but I built a tool to try and visualize which skills were lacking (if any) in a group of designers. Each designer could basically condense their UX skills into a square icon.

You can play around with it here...


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