To Skill Bar or Not to Skill Bar


If you are following webdesign trends, you should have noticed that one of the emerging trends in 2014 have been progress bars for showcasing your skill set. In most cases, this technique is popular among freelancers and creative agencies, and is used for showing how good you are at a specific skill. Tons of templates and plugins include this functionality (this, this, this and even this).

At first, I liked this idea and even decided to use this for my online presence, too. To be honest, I got too excited about the flat UI and smooth animations (yes, guilty), which distracts from the initial objective. Some time later, something struck me and I started questioning if using percentage is a valid measure for a skill in this case. Most obvious questions:

– What does percentage really mean?
– Who defines the value for a skill?
– How are these measured?Skill bars
– What will happen when you achieve 100% and is it even possible (no, it’s not)?

I think this technique can find other applications, something more objectively measured. Maybe, when you earn specific score, and there is total max of points known, so you can calculate your percentage. For example, Treehouse points system, where you get exact points for completing different courses and tasks, and the total available number of points is well-known.

Treehouse skills

On the other hand, you could survey your clients to select the skills or areas of expertise they believe you are an expert in and then calculate what percentage of your total client base said you have this skill. This would be at least somewhat quantitative. Something similar to LinkedIn skills section, which is directly connected to measurable numbers.

LinkedIn skills

Conclusion: question everything.

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