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UX maturity

Understanding your UX maturity level is the starting point to developing a strong user-centric culture and aligning your UX efforts with organisational goals.

An organisation’s capacity and desire to effectively implement user-centric design and principles within its culture is measured according to its level of UX maturity.

Sarah Edwards, User Experience Consultant.

UX maturity encompasses a range of factors, including the rigour of UX research and design methodologies within an organisation, the prioritisation of resources, attitudes towards UX across teams and among leadership, and the knowledge and practice of UX. UX Maturity significantly impacts business success as higher UX maturity levels lead to more enhanced user experiences, increasing user loyalty and satisfaction.

An indication of an organisation’s UX maturity level is provided at the beginning of the UX audit to identify the extent to which it implements user-centred design and research across all processes, recognise good practices, and indicate areas that might need improvement. The UX maturity survey sets the foundation for the relevant, actionable recommendations we provide as an output of the UX audit.

Understanding UX maturity

The six stages of UX maturity

We assess UX maturity levels according to the model developed by the Nielsen Norman Group because it offers a clear framework for determining the degree of an organisation’s UX-related strengths and shortcomings. The model also reveals solutions for organisations to progress to the next UX maturity stage. The Nielsen Norman Group identifies six positions of UX maturity:

Absent

Level 1 (0 - 9%)
UX is disregarded or non-existent

Limited

Level 2 (10 - 29%)
UX work is uncommon, carelessly conducted and of little significance

Emergent

Level 3 (30 - 49%)
Although the UX work is useful and promising, it is also inefficient

Structured

Level 4 (50 - 69%)
The organisation has a widely used scientific UX methodology that has differing degrees of efficiency

Integrated

Level 5 (70 - 89%)
Valuable insights and outstanding user-centred design outputs are a direct outcome of a commitment to UX at all levels

User-driven

Level 6 (above 90%)
Valuable insights and outstanding user-centred design outputs are a direct outcome of a commitment to UX at all levels

The four categories of assessment

The following four categories define what stage an organisation is in:
01

Strategy

How effective is the prioritisation of resources, strategy and leadership in UX?
02

Culture

How crucial are practitioners’ development and UX knowledge to the organisation?
03

Process

How rigorously are UX research and design methodologies applied?
04

Outcome

How frequently are the outcomes of UX work consciously defined and quantified?

The benefits of UX maturity

Increased user satisfaction and loyalty

High UX maturity prioritises addressing usability issues, streamlining user navigation and implementing features that are aligned with user needs and preferences. As a result, this creates delightful user experiences, increasing user satisfaction and loyalty. 

Improved conversion rates and user engagement

A high level of UX maturity within an organisation signifies that users are placed at the centre of principles and design decisions. An intuitive, user-friendly digital experience will increase internet traffic and user engagement, improving conversion rates and stronger brand visibility. 

Competitive advantage in the market

Focusing on increasing UX maturity within an organisation provides a competitive advantage in the market by aiming to set high standards for user-centred design, build adaptability to market changes and trends, and establish itself as an organisation that values its users’ satisfaction. 

Steps to achieve UX maturity 

00Establishing a user-centric culture

Cultivating a culture that places the user at the centre of all processes and principles is central to achieving a high UX maturity level. Encouraging ongoing learning regarding UX, conducting regular user research, integrating the feedback into design decision-making processes and staying up-to-date with UX trends are key ways to maintain a culture that prioritises the user. Ultimately, encouraging collaboration across all departments establishes a user-centric culture by creating a shared effort to commit to championing the users’ needs and goals.

01Conducting user research and testing

Gathering insights through qualitative and quantitative methods such as interviews, usability tests, surveys, A/B testing, and diary studies provides a data-driven approach to creating the user experience. Research methods such as usability testing allow for the iteration of designs based on real user insight, reinforcing a user-centric culture.

02Creating seamless user journeys

Optimising information architecture is critical to achieving UX maturity as it is a foundational component of user-centred design and plays a crucial role in creating an accessible and user-friendly user experience. Enabling users to locate information quickly and easily through designing intuitive interactions and interfaces also reduces their cognitive load and leads to improved user engagement. 

03Iterative design and prototyping 

Embracing an iterative design process is paramount to achieving a high level of UX maturity, especially when integrated with user feedback. Continuously refining solutions will result in user experiences that align most accurately with users’ needs and are most likely to meet their expectations.

04Measuring and analysing UX metrics 

Identifying relevant UX metrics and KPIs and leveraging data for data-driven decision-making is essential to improving UX maturity because they provide quantifiable insights into user behaviour rather than relying on assumptions. Focusing on metrics and KPIs also aids with efficiently allocating resources, which is a key indicator of UX maturity. 

05Empowering and training UX teams 

Building a skilled and empowered UX team is a key element involved in achieving a high level of UX maturity, as user needs and preferences are more likely to be prioritised in design decisions, and the team are likely to work cohesively to promote a work environment that places the user at the heart of the UX initiatives and strategies. Investing in ongoing professional development builds expertise within teams in user research and design, producing high-quality deliverables that align with the user across all touchpoints.

Challenges in Advancing UX Maturity

Advancing UX maturity can be a challenge for several reasons, some of the most common barriers we see are:

  • Organisational resistance: Common resistance points within organisations include the investment required, the risk of change and a lack of understanding the value of UX. Educating teams and senior leadership on UX and its advantages is crucial for uptake.
  • Resource allocation: Securing adequate resources within an organisation for UX initiatives can also be a challenge. This is often a result of different priorities within senior leadership teams. Showcasing the business case for UX investment is key, focusing on enhanced user satisfaction, engagement and loyalty can help tie back UX initiatives to business goals.
  • Skill gaps: Existing teams may not be composed of the roles required e.g. UX designers, researchers, strategists etc. or individuals may not have the necessary skill set to be able to advance UX maturity within the team. Identifying where skill gaps are is the first step before discussing with teams new roles to hire for or training required to support existing team members. Employ both of these strategies to help bridge the current skill gap.

Integrating UX maturity into business strategy

It is important to instil a user-centric approach into the organisation’s mindset and ways of working. To cultivate UX maturity it must also be built into the business strategy. Three ways to support this include:

  • Alignment with Business Goals: It is important to demonstrate to stakeholders how UX maturity aligns with and supports broader business objectives. At the project kick-off understanding business goals is a key area of focus and should be weaved into the UX audit review process.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Our ways of working naturally support this by actively seeking input from stakeholders at key touch points throughout the project. At the start of any activity or deliverable where stakeholders will be engaged or reviewing, we recap the project context and explain the activity or deliverable, highlighting its purpose and use case so that the value is understood.
  • ROI of UX: Advancing UX within an organisation can have a great ROI. Improved UX understanding and implementation within the organisation means that in turn the user experience of a product or service is enhanced. Enhancing the user experience can lead to higher customer loyalty, conversions and satisfaction.

The role of leadership in UX maturity

Leadership vision and commitment to advancing UX maturity are very important. Leaders who see the value in investing time and resources in UX can gain an in-depth understanding of their users from their team and ensure that a best-in-class user experience is implemented.  Leaders also play an essential role in driving the cultural change of an organisation towards a more user-centric approach across teams. A user-centric approach also means a continuous improvement mindset. There is a need for the leadership to foster an environment of continuous learning and improvement in UX to ensure best practice is maintained, and as user wants and needs naturally change over time products and services must continue to adapt.

Conclusion

Understanding existing UX research and standards provides a comprehensive view of where an organisation stands in terms of UX efforts and reveals gaps and opportunities for enhancing UX processes and strategies. As UX maturity advances, the user becomes more central to processes and design decisions, which results in improved user experiences and increased business success. If you would like to find out more, simply contact us and one of our friendly staff will get back to you.

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