On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited would you say everyone at your company is about UX? Do you imagine eye-rolling or yawns — or blank stares, if you mention UX? Or are the principles of good UX embedded into the very core of your company culture, from top to bottom and throughout?
Most likely, your answer is “somewhere in between”.
Just where you fall on that scale of 1 to 10 is important, if you want to build a plan for moving the dial toward a stronger commitment and deeper thinking about UX at your company. We think it’s so important that we use what’s called a UX Maturity Model. It’s a tool for understanding where you stand in terms of UX adoption, which is the first step in raising awareness, building capability, and working toward becoming a “UX mature” company.
What is a UX Maturity Model?
Good UX is built on a foundation of good user research, and who’s more well-known and respected for their research than Forrester? Bruce Temkin, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research for twelve years, created an excellent UX Maturity Model back in 2007 that’s still in use today.
Based on an adaptation of Bruce Temkin’s published work, we have developed a modified UX Maturity Model. It provides a set of criteria — six, to be exact — that can help you make consistent assessments of your organization’s progress on the UX maturity spectrum.
Using these criteria and the assessment, you can make recommendations to help your company achieve the best possible user experience. It’s a way to self-diagnose but it’s also a way to start forming a plan to improve the commitment of everyone on your team or even everyone at your company, to the principles of good UX.
Why is there a UX Maturity Model and What are the Benefits of Reaching Maturity?
The goal here is to move up the ladder toward full UX maturity, which looks something like this:
- Everyone at your company, from front line staff to administration to the executive-suite, has a thorough understanding of your customers. It’s an understanding based on solid, scientific research carried out by a team that’s committed to passing on what they learn about customers to everyone at the company and to partners.
- People at your company use their understanding of the user to prioritize what’s important for the customer, which is ultimately also the key to business success.
- Your company has a vision that’s based on research of the customer and that vision is used to define experiences. It’s these experiences that will draw loyal customers to your brand year after year.
- Your company provides everyone with the tools, training, and other resources they need to deliver these experiences, so innovation thrives in every corner.
- You have a way to measure the quality of these experiences. You also understand how these metrics fit into the big picture of business success.
- You build a company culture that’s rooted in a commitment to acting on shared values. These values reflect an overall commitment at every level to deliver great customer experiences in every possible way.
Sounds exciting, right?
The UX Maturity Model is your starting point for the launch of a whole range of great benefits. Once you gauge how well your organization performs in the various aspects of UX maturity, you’ll be able to focus on areas where you need to strengthen and improve so you can begin enjoying those benefits.
The Stages of UX Maturity
Again, we use a model that’s based on Bruce Tempkin’s Forrester-approved UX Maturity model. Here are the basic stages:
- Oblivious. UX is not a topic that’s represented at boardroom meetings, or anywhere else, for that matter, except maybe when developers are shaping the UI of a project. Apps and software are developed using functionality as a guiding principle, rather than user needs. And with that approach, there is little need for user research.
- Curious. There is some awareness of UX at your company but you’re still failing because the proper resources haven’t yet been allocated for proper UX research and implementation, like training, tools, and new talent.
- Isolated. UX principles have worked their way into digital projects at your company but they are still not part of the culture within the entire organization.
- Supportive. Now you’re getting serious about UX and you have a real budget. You’re seeing ROI, you understand what your users need, and you see the business benefits of good UX.
- Devoted. Now, UX is part of company culture. Everyone lives UX in their own unique way in their role at the company. User research is carried out early on in the design stages of your important projects and everyone uses a standard vocabulary to express meaning across all channels.
- Ingrained. UX has seeped through to every level, every corner of your business so that it affects decisions of all types and at all levels. You’re issuing forth one innovative product after another and you’re getting them to market faster than ever. UX even affects strategy at top levels and has moved beyond the realm of interface design.
Good User Experience as a core value is gaining traction in companies across the board. But it requires a journey, and as companies progress along their own journey, they typically follow the same general path through similar stages.
The risks of remaining stuck in the early stages of UX maturity range from unusable products to increased support costs for products that weren’t developed with the user in mind. Both are a waste of time and money.
The benefits of reaching those higher maturity levels, on the other hand, are multifold and truly exciting for any type of company doing business in the 21st century:
- Everyone at the company is vested in providing a good customer experience, no matter what their job titles might be
- Innovation thrives at your company and new products emerge quickly and get released to market quickly, too
- Design thinking becomes part of the fabric of your organization, which means you are now a more customer-centric business that’s able to compete successfully in the digital era
- Your company has in-depth knowledge of who your users are, which means you are able to predict trends and be flexible and agile enough to keep up with changing customer demand
By now, after reading this, you probably have a good sense of where your company falls amidst those stages. From there, you’re probably already realizing where you need to make improvements so you can mature. The next steps would be to devise a plan for targeting those areas, including making a business case for investing in the right resources to help you get there. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of UX maturity, it’s time to roll up your sleeves. Whatever form of action you’re about to take, we are always here to support you with our blog — we hope you found this inspirational and helpful!