UX Maturity model — Expectations, Resources & Value

It is increasingly becoming very clear that design is playing a critical role in success of products and business. However the results are varying from “nah” to ‘aha”. Turns out that the reason for this different results is maturity (mindset, processes and resources) of the organisations trying to leverage design.

It’s very simple math if the process and resources are aligned with expectations the results can also be stunning

Like we have CMM (Capability Maturity Model) levels in software development, we have UXM (User Experience Maturity) levels for UX.
Following illustration is our take on the UX maturity levels defined by Neilson Norman group which is more or less very similar.

So here’s F1studioz take on what to expect at each level of design maturity:

LEVEL 1 — No design benefits expected

If your organisation doesn’t have a dedicated design resource yet, chances are that the organisation either not aware of design or it’s been achieved collectively by managers and developers. Unfortunately, there can be no benefits expected from part-time design.

LEVEL 2 —Good looking

If you do have one designer in the team, chances are that person is seen as a creative resource who is good with layouts, typography and colours. This is the first step for the organisation in design but not the last one. Usually, the design is an afterthought after the development is done. The benefit the organisation gets out of operating at this level is that the products look good.

Inclusions: Visual Designer (or Generalist)

Contributions by Visual design (or Generalist):

  • Introducing to design lingo

Value: Making a product look good only helps in creating a better perception of the product and may even help boosting sales. If the first designer is a design generalist, the organisations might be benefitted by the design evangelism (if done well)

LEVEL 3 — Ease of use

It’s only after the product managers do not see any ROI from design they turn their eyes to data and find drop-offs at certain places or learn that product offerings are completely or partially misunderstood by the users.

At this level the organisations tend to hire more designers, but not, visual designers. They either get a researcher or usability expert or Interaction designer. In slightly bigger organisations they have the luxury of hiring a product writer as well. However there is no clear ownership for design.

Inclusions: Design Experts (Usability, Interaction, Product writing)

Contributions by Design Experts to the culture:

  • Design expertise in respective departments
  • Design process from each experts

Value: The product is easy to use and understand. The organisation starts to see some ROI from investment into design.

LEVEL 4 — Consistency, Robustness & Scale

At level 3, the product does starts seeing results but it’s very unorganised and inconsistent. What’s missing is a holistic view about the product from a user’s perspective. Although, there is a lot said and even claimed to be done for the user are Level 3 but it’s not a single view.

The situation is similar to Jon Godfrey Saxe’s poem called “The elephant and the blind men”. Below is an public domain illustration by the artist Hans Moller

Source: https://eliamdur.com/index.php/2018/09/08/the-blind-men-and-the-elephant/

True UCD (user-centered-design) is achieved only when we have a lead designer. Lead designer is one who connects with all the individually contributing experts and gives the design practice a balance by bringing consistency, robustness and scalability.

Inclusions: Design Leader

Contributions by Design Leader to the culture:

  • Design Strategy
  • Design Practices & Rituals

Value: The benefits of uniting all the individually contributing experts is that end user’s problems are truly solved.

LEVEL 5 — Delight & Transformation

Most businesses are greatly benefitted greatly once their design leadership starts to kick some ass. Many organisations do not evolve beyond this level.

However, if the expectation from design is transformation of the business or the domain or simply delighting the customers, we need one more layer of leadership that is equal to the CxO level and directly reports to the CEO. The role I am talking about is CDO (Chief Design Officer) or a Design director.

Inclusions: Design Director

Contributions by Design Director to the culture:

  • Design Thinking
  • Design Principles
  • Vision

Value: This is when the organisation truly starts to transform and often used phrase of x to 10x can be achieved

Special Thanks to Mr. Rajat for the beautiful illustration
(& Mr Jayanta Borah for guiding him through the story for the illustration)

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