UX Maturity: How good is your Organization practicing UX?

There are a tons of companies who practice UX design. In this article we will shed some light on the stages and the understand what it takes to deliver better UX.

Great software products does not happen by accident, it takes rigorous and continuous effort to make one. It definitely is the team work indeed to make this possible. This is also a result from the combination of usability, functionality and aesthetics that helps to convert a visitors to possible customers which can also lead to increase in customer satisfaction, higher sales due to the ease of use or reflection of the value proposition provided my the product.

UX is a team sport its practice inside an organization falls on a broad spectrum in their ability to create maintain high quality, digital UX. There can be variety of hired designers to leverage and get the design work done.

Small: It might be a small sized business who employ one to two designers covering all the aspects of the design and handle the multiple tasks accordingly.

Medium: Handful of designers working working interchangeability in couple of project.

Big: This can have decent number of design team, but they might not have a seat at the table where the strategy is defined.

Grand: Design sub departments where we might have information architects, user researcher, usability testers, interface designers, interaction designers, UXers hired to attain the business strategy.

These organizations range from one person as service design or to developer-centric and traditionally risk-averse or visionaries which have deeply embedded user-centred design philosophies that stem from the top to down.

What is UX Maturity?

Image Credit: freepik

UX Maturity is the where the implication and practice of UX inside an organization. This reflects on at what stage is an organization implementing user research, techniques and processes. It serves alike a framework in which we can categorize the quality and effectiveness of the practice of UX. Generally, the more UX research mature a company is, the more likely that are to fight for including user research in their business.

NNgroup, Jared Spool, UX matters Kreitzberg and many other big names from the design industry have written about the different stages of design maturity in a company. They all commonly share the same essence.

Stages of UX Maturity

Here we will focus on the maturity model which was developed by Charlie Kreitzberg who is a Sr. UX Advisor @ Princeton University.

UX Maturity Scale for Business

Level 1: Lacking UX answers

This is on the lowest maturity level. The business here is not aware of what UX means, its involvement and value it can bring. Gaining the functionality of the product is the main focus. Developers don’t want to understand actual user needs but pretends to mimic one. The developers generally shape up the UI rather than the involvement of designers. Lacking UX awareness poses a risk. After all, users of apps and websites have become accustomed to a good user experience and may feel alienated by applications which are difficult to use. This may hampers in the long run with the increasing support cost which are unavoidable consequences of this.

Level 2: Ad hoc user experience

This is second level of UX maturity inside an organization. Here we can see some initial signs of UX awareness in the business. Someone from the company management may have heard about the benefits of good UX somewhere. Or an employee discovers the philosophy that places users at the centre and tries to find support within the business by presenting the advantages of UX to their team. In this early phase, some initial designers (or teams) might attempt to recruit a handful of subjects for a simple user test or an external usability consultant is called in for an expert review.

It’s sure that UX efforts fail miserable as the second maturity level does not have the required skills and experience to integrate UX into the existing process. It’s possible that the business neither provided a standalone UX budget nor hired a dedicated UX designer. UX is not seen as an autonomous discipline. Instead, UX and user research activities are conducted on an ad hoc basis not dependent on individual initiation. The topic of UX comes up within the company but its implementation is not well defined and very inconsistent.

It’s important to document all the result and all design improvements of our UX works and ideally be able to present conclusive ‘before and after’ comparison of the UX activities.

Level 3: Project UX

This is third level of UX maturity inside an organization. The previous two levels are premature level of UX. In this level an organization UX process start to become entrenched aspect of the development process. UX begins to be seen by some people in the business as a strategic advantage for the first time. Here UX and usability practices are allocated a dedicated budget. A formal UX process is introduced and depending on the budget.

Also the UX team is formed and in bigger business there would be dedicated UX designers and UX researchers to form the department on their own. Here UX becomes a magical tool to polish up the UI. The product features are tested in the end stage of development with simple user tests but generally without user research, need finding or prototyping taking place in advance. The later in the development process that problems are discovered, the less likely it is that they will be dealt with, for reasons of cost.

Here organization should measure the ROI of our user experience activities. We need to take some serious time and prove the track of the success stories and show the insights to the business. UX needs to be measured over the entire customer journey. Which later can pave the path to the next level of UX maturity.

Level 4: Business UX

This is fourth level of UX maturity where it is approached on a business-wide level. UX team is lead by UX manager. The UX manager analyses the business holistic, cross project user experience first of all. Here the UX team is lead in such a way that it delivers consistent processes result in high design quality and good usability. We also take a look at the impact of the UX upon the business and UX becomes consistently integrated into the product development cycle.

Here organization recognize interdependencies between departments and all potential customer touch points. This makes it possible to develop a strategic mindset UX method. There should also be involvement of all the necessary stakeholders.

Level 5: Strategic UX culture

This is fifth level where the business have realized that the holistic user centered design process is needed to develop a strategic UX culture. Before design begins UX cultures have often developed internal design systems and built pattern libraries. This also assures a uniform design language across all the business design implications. The management here has also most likely set up KPIs to measure and monitor the quality of the user experience. If projects do not meet internal UX standards, they are stopped and the product is improved before it reaches the customer. The company has a iterative design process which comprises several rounds of prototyping and advance user testing. User research and initial need finding take place in increasingly early stages of project development.

Here organization can take years to reach at this stage. We must convince managers and team members that UX and user research is an important part of their work. It is no longer about increasing usability budgets. It is about spreading the user centered design approach gradually through the entire company.

Level 6: Holistic UX culture

The final step of UX maturity where UX reaches enlightenment. The development os a customer centric company culture is practiced. UX designers becomes one of the key aspects on how a business thinks and acts. Every member of staff — from the CEO to the new intern is aware and understand the importance of UX. Here UX becomes the part of the business-wide strategy and the development of products for human end uers follows the UX design process.

If you are wondering can the UX maturity of the organization be measured? The answer is it’s possible to dive into this topic I suggest to go through another article linked here.

UX Maturity Scale

Conclusion

The maturity progresses one level at a time. An organization has a UX environment that is Self-Referential, they won’t be able to skip ahead to the Distributed level without moving through the levels in between, gaining skills and overcoming barriers. Because each level requires the integration of knowledge, skills, specific profiles, and changes to internal processes, the process can last for years.This is not an overnight process.

Moreover you can also learn about the maturity models through which companies with large product portfolios progresses in the link here. The higher will be the companies UX maturity level, the better product will be built and better results can be seen.

— — — — — — — — — — Happy Designing — —— — ———

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