The UX Cycle of Excellence

by Darren Hood

Working as a UX professional requires a commitment to continued education. It also calls for ongoing introspection and personal maintenance. Interested in a pattern or approach to help with these responsibilities? Check out my prescribed UX Cycle of Excellence.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Properly define the discipline of UX
    Defining UX accurately will help people establish a proper foundation. Without this foundation, a person can head in any direction (all of which are detrimental to self and the discipline).
  2. Embrace UX’s foundational tenets
    Once you’ve defined the discipline, it is important to identify and gain at least a basic understand of UX’s most basic tenets: usability and heuristics, information architecture, UX research, and interaction and interface design. This helps lay a foundation for the next step.
  3. Evaluate your current state
    Once you’ve accurately defined UX and obtained a basic understanding of the foundational tenets, it’s time to examine and identify where you stand in conjunction with the findings.
  4. Identify your knowledge and skill gaps
    This step delves beyond your current state, as you identify specific elements where you need to improve. This “inventory” is critical to your overall success.
  5. Build towards excellence
    Now that you’re aware of your knowledge and skill gaps, you have what you need to start working and proceed towards excellence and mastery.
  6. Commit to personal maintenance
    This step is basically an attitude checkpoint. With all of the information and retrospective evaluation you’ve done to this point, it’s important to solidify your commitment. You’ll want to make sure you’re all set for the never-ending journey that lies ahead. Make the commitment.
  7. Be patient (with yourself)
    This is the hardest part for many. Achieving excellence in UX is a marathon, not a sprint. Improvement takes place in very small segments, not in chunks or blocks. For this reason, we must be steady and focused. We must not expect or desire things to happen too quickly. Desiring to move too fast can and will result in making mistakes—mistakes that could take a great deal of time to recover from (and we don’t have time to waste).

Pretty straightforward, right? It does, however, take discipline. You can hear me elaborate on these things via a recent episode of my podcast, below.

You can hear more from the author by checking out The World of UX with Darren Hood wherever podcasts are available.

Darren Hood: UX pro (20+ yrs), adjunct professor, international conf. speaker, founder of Kaizen UX Consulting & Education, & host of The World of UX podcast