“Achieving great UX design is not just a function or talent of individuals, it is an organizational characteristic”.
UX maturity refers to the level of sophistication of UX practices applied by an organization.
While businesses have started acknowledging just how important UX design is, they still have a misconception that getting design personnel on board is all that UX maturity entails. Well, it sadly isn’t that simple and direct. Organizational maturity goes beyond personnel UI/UX skills and roles, it requires a fusion of the quality of the UX process, principles, and values across an organization.
Let’s delve deep into UX maturity and consider:
- The stages of UX maturity.
- Why is UX maturity so important?
- The Tips for building UX maturity.
Let’s begin with,
- The UX Maturity Model:
The UX maturity scale is a wide spectrum that covers how businesses create and maintain an outstanding user experience.
It gives a framework one can use in assessing every organization’s UX-related strengths and weaknesses. This assessment can be used to determine which of the six stages an organization occupies at the moment. You can also get insights into how your organization can improve its UX maturity from the model.
The 6 stages of UX maturity are:
1. Absent: UX is nonexistent or ignored at this stage.
2. Limited: UX working is rare, done haphazardly, and lacks importance.
3. Emergent: The UX work is functional and promising but done inconsistently and inefficiently.
4. Structured: Organizations here have a semi-systematic UX-related methodology that is widespread, but with varying degrees of effectiveness and efficiency.
5. Integrated: The UX working here is effective, comprehensive, and pervasive.
6. User-driven: Dedication to UX at all levels leads to deep insights and exceptional user-centered–design outcomes.
2. Why is UX maturity so important?
In a recently published research result by InVision’s DesignBetter, Leah Buley writes:
“InVision surveyed thousands of companies to explore the relationship between design practices and business performance. She found out that those dominating their industries are the ones treating the screen like the most important place on Earth. In fact, companies with high design maturity see cost savings, revenue gains, and brand and market position improvements as a result of their design efforts.”
She shared that “companies [with a high level of maturity] put a lot of heat on industry incumbents, either by directly taking their market share or by gradually changing customer expectations.”
A steady uptick in sales, improved customer satisfaction, increased brand perception, improved employee retention, along with lowered development costs were also some of the advantages that came with an increased UX maturity.
This study revealed how a select group of companies (5% of organizations) is receiving the most value from design for business. Even though nearly 80% of companies have UX designs on projects often, just 5% are empowering design for the greatest benefits, and 41% have significant room to grow.
Here are Leah Buley’s five levels of UX:
- Level 1: Producers - Design is what happens on screens (41% of organizations)
- Level 2: Connectors - Design is what happens in a workshop (21% of organizations)
- Level 3: Architects - Design is a standardized, scalable process (21% of organizations)
- Level 4: Scientists - Design is a hypothesis and an experiment (12% of organizations)
- Level 5: Visionaries - Design is a business strategy (5% of organizations)
3. The Tips for building UX maturity.
It is possible to incrementally advance UX maturity by investing in user research, iteratively testing new features, and redesigning existing ones while emphasizing how human-centered practices boost the user experience. Here’s how you can get started with leveling up your company’s UX maturity.
- Network within the company to find UX champions
How does one identify a UX champion within an organization?
The champions you’re looking for are those wielding decision-making or decision-influencing powers, people who can advocate for UX as a concept, push its growth, and speak in favor of UX resources in the form of budget and roles. Here are a few characteristics that are typical of potential UX champions –
i) Willing to spend time and energy on ideas they believe in.
ii) Have the ability to create and maintain networks.
iii) Always voice their dissatisfaction with the current design and development processes.
iv) Stand to gain immediate benefits from having a UX-led product redesign.
v) Constantly pushing for growth and scaling.
It would be an added advantage to zero in on a person who already has a seat at the decision-making table and would be willing to make way for UX design to be there.
- Conduct UX awareness sessions.
Sharing success stories from other companies and inviting UX experts to speak is a great way to introduce UX practices and methodologies. But, be very careful while selecting UX experts – just as a chef might not be the best person to set up a restaurant – a UX designer may not always be someone who can educate others on setting up a UX practice. You need an expert resource who specializes in setting up mature practices – they may not have a formal UX qualification or even hands-on design expertise. The key attributes to look for are leadership, management, and a will to empower people.
- Pick a quick-win project to showcase the value of UX methods.
Bringing in culture transformation in an organization is no mean feat and requires sustained efforts over time. However, to accelerate UX awareness it is crucial that it be demonstrated by solving an unfulfilled user need. Mingle with people from development, product management, tech support, QA, marketing, and sales to understand their priorities, the metrics they’re responsible for, and what keeps them up at night. It could be a 3-step task that requires 25 clicks or an onboarding process that gets abandoned at the last minute. Find the best problem to demonstrate the influence of UX processes.
- You can build a hypothetical problem that they’d most relate to.
Not everyone can be as accommodating, which is why you may have to build a vision prototype and use it to tell a story. You can showcase how your vision prototype solves a crucial unfulfilled user need. If possible, try getting user feedback on your prototype and keep iterating until you zero in on a concept that’s ready to be built. Create a prioritized list of UX objectives, based on impact and effort, and put a budget together that will help you achieve your goals.
- Encourage your team to revisit and reassess their product.
The best way to get rid of any internal bias towards the product is to get a third-party performance assessment. This way, you can ensure that the feedback is authentic and honest, and untainted with any ulterior motives. A specialized UX audit is a detailed product performance analysis and comes with a list of actionable advice to elevate the user experience.
Wrapping it all up,
To successfully evolve your organization’s UX Design capabilities, you must understand your current starting point, determine precisely where you plan to arrive, and chart the path to take along the way. UX Maturity is the concept and method which will help provide clarity and track your progress on this journey.