Last month, Salesforce announced a new certification called ‘Salesforce Certified User Experience Designer‘ – to allow Trailblazers all over the world to add design skills to their portfolio. Given my background on Mobile Development and Design Thinking, I had it on my to-do list for a while to appear for this exam.
I finally took the plunge and passed it yesterday – 6th July. In this post, I will share my experience of preparing for this certification – hopefully you will find these tips useful while preparing for this exam.
First things first, do take time to read out this fantastic post by Adam Doti on how this credential came to life and how you should go about pursuing it.
I always say that for any Salesforce certification exam (or any exam in general), the Exam Guide is the best reference. While most people skim through the exam guide in a matter of minutes, I usually spend a few hours dissecting it to understand the following
- Various sections and assigned weightage – Helps me prepare my study plan, how much time to devote on each topic etc.
- Assumptions – These are often the pre-requisites. It helps you identify gaps that you are expected to know and it’s always good to check all the boxes on this one to feel confident about the exam
- Learning Objectives – This is crucial. I often take the terms literally from Exam Guide and search them on the Internet to get more details. This comes in handy especially if it’s an area which is not your core strength.
- Key Topics – The Exam Guide lists a number of key topics. Again, I made sure that I covered each of them in good detail.
- BONUS – Sample Questions & Flashcards – It was a pleasant surprise to see that the Exam Guide for this exam actually contains sample questions as well as Flashcards to learn key concepts. These are from the Trailmix but it’s still a handy reference for a quick module-wise revision
Here’s a link to the printable PDF for the Exam Guide. I printed it, scribbled my notes all over as I read through each module and it was immensely helpful in revision.
As cliché as it may sound, the Trailmix covers anything and everything that you need to pass this exam. It is comparatively a bulkier Trailmix as compared to some of the other exams but the good things is that some of the modules overlap with other exams as well. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the Trailmix and in my usual start-stop mode, it took me over 3 weeks to complete it.
I then took a second pass (3 hours) to quickly revise the important topics the night before the exam – I usually do this on my iPad by annotating screenshots with notes that I can remember. If you are not a developer and/or do not want to do the hands-on part, it’s perfectly fine to skip the “Hands On Challenge” for some of the included modules.
If you have a strong background in Design and Salesforce, you may actually pass this exam without doing the Trailmix but good preparation never hurts – does it?
While all modules are crucial, I would recommend studying about the below in good detail as these are topics which you wouldn’t usually come across unless you’re a UX Designer yourself.
-WCAG Standards & Accessibility
-Salesforce UI Customisation
I wouldn’t say that this is an easy exam but if you’re a UX Designer who has been working on Salesforce for a while, you definitely have an edge. In my case, I’m not a UX Designer but I’ve been doing Salesforce for over a decade, I have a background in Design Thinking & Mobile Development and I’ve a decent eye for design, aesthetics and accessibility.
My Dreamforce Video – Don’t Make Users Think: Implementing Design Thinking With SLDS
In 2017, I had an opportunity to present at Dreamforce (Yes, my favourite tech conference) on the topic – “
Don’t Make Users Think: Implementing Design Thinking With SLDS”. This was still the early days of SLDS and Lightning Experience was growing through a maturing phase. While this happened in a different era long back, some of the key concepts covered in this video are still very much valid today and I’m sure it will be beneficial to people who take this exam. Watch it – it’s worth the time spent!
MIT Design Thinking Course
I was very fortunate to attend a course on ‘Design Thinking’ at MIT (Yes – you read that right – Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 2019. While it was a short course, it gave me lessons in design thinking that I’m able to apply to solving problems across a variety of challenges.
I’ve also subsequently done a few online courses on Design and Frontend development skills. The point here is that if you’ve such a background, it will definitely help you in this exam.
Likewise, if you have mobile development background – you will not just understand a number of concepts, but you’ll also be able to relate to them in your past projects. For me, I did a ton of native and hybrid app development in the early days of smartphone era so that experience helped.
One of my apps – Noteprise was awarded a prize by Salesforce nearly a decade back and it still brings back a lot of fond memories. In hindsight, the UI for this app was very poor (or “basic” as I’d say) – here’s a video if you want to take a look (Ignore the fake American accent – I quickly realised that never works!)
Again, the key is that being a mobile developer gives you key concepts such as responsive design, accessibility testing, human-centric design and others. I like to dabble on Sketch in my free time to create my own designs but I’ve to admit I’m still fairly poor at it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
To be honest, you don’t need much else if you follow the Exam Guide and the Trailmix. Some early birds who’ve passed the exam have shared their experience about it. I found it useful reading their blog posts and it gave me confidence that if I prepare well, I will pass.
Martin Humpolec’s Blog Post – Martin is a fellow Salesforce MVP, the founder of CzechDreamin. I love his blog posts for the uniquer perspective he shares. For example, this candid post about his failing the CTA Review Board is a must read for all CTA aspirants
Palash Dubey’s Blog Post – Informative post about the various sections and key concepts that you should read before you appear for the exam.
Good luck to those taking the exam!