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Design
7 minutes read

The UX Maturity Model

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
Design
7 minutes read

The UX maturity model is a great way to make sure that your organization has reached the desired stage of user-centered design and user research throughout all your UX processes. This is particularly important for companies undergoing a custom app development project. Attaining a given UX maturity stage can make the difference between having a regular app and having a great one.

Although your company might have a dedicated UX team with the best and most talented UX professionals and the best user research methods, you still need to assess UX maturity. Only by systematically and rigorously analyzing your organizational UX process will you be able to attain the right level of user-centeredness that your app needs.

Developing UX maturity inside your organization is not a nice to have thing. Having a clear UX strategy and a high UX maturity stage are necessary elements that can differentiate your app, and even your entire organization, from competitors.

If you are looking to understand what UX maturity is and how it can benefit your organization and your app development project, this article is for you. We will discuss UX maturity models and how UX research can help you understand your users better so that you can achieve your goals.

What Is a UX Maturity Model?

A UX maturity model refers to the desire and the actual ability of an organization to deliver user-centered design. This last refers to design practices that are focused on building products and services around the problems, needs, and desires of users. User-centered design has become associated with user research, sometimes referred to as UX research, as this last focuses on the User Experience. 

The concept was popularized in the 2000s by the Nielsen Norman Group, and although it has changed throughout the years, it continues to be an important guiding principle for UX professionals across the globe in a number of industries. For UX researchers working in app development, UX maturity models are crucial.

A mature UX team at a UX-immature company will probably face many more challenges than an immature UX team in a UX mature company. In the former, UX processes will most likely have less budget. Even worse, to push a UX design initiative, a UX team at a company with a low UX maturity stage will have to convince the organization’s leadership about the importance of their work and why it matters in terms of the company’s goals. Having to push user research through can be exhausting.

Ultimately, you want UX maturity to be present across your organization, UX teams, and products to avoid wasting energy.

The Importance of UX Maturity

UX maturity has become particularly important as a way to help organizations implement their UX strategy. Throughout the past decade, an increasing number of companies have been investing more in UX design. With each passing year, executives and UX teams are seeing more of the benefits of having a clear UX strategy. They now seem to understand better the value of user research when it comes to making crucial product decisions.

Many organizations are realizing that only by using a UX research mentality will they be able to deliver the products that users expect. You will need a clear UX strategy in order to make sure that your efforts are headed in the right direction.

Failing to have a high level of UX Maturity might mean that your company’s actions are not aligned with what your users want. In practical terms, this translates into an inefficient product development process where resources are suboptimally spent. On the contrary, a high UX maturity stage helps guarantee that user-centered design and user research drive decision-making inside an organization, helping reduce user-related risks throughout the development process. 

One of the best ways to guarantee your organization has the right level of UX maturity is to implement a culture that acknowledges the importance of UX research. To do this, having an expert UX team is sometimes not enough.

How to Assess UX Maturity

Even the best UX team will fail to do UX research if it constantly has to push through the organization to get things done. UX professionals can only go so far as UX processes allow them to, and these are usually established in a top-down manner.

Assessing the UX maturity stage at your organization can be a hard task, especially if the leadership team does not see the importance of UX research and even less of assessing its maturity.

There isn’t a single way to figure out the level of UX maturity of your organization or UX team. However, it is important to choose one of many existing UX maturity models and stick to it. Once you choose a UX maturity model and understand its different stages, you can classify your organization.

A crucial first step to doing this is to explain to the leadership team the importance of user research and how it can help the organization as a whole. Seeing the impact of UX maturity in terms of numbers can be very useful. Find information from companies or products similar to yours and try to frame it in terms of the impact on users and the company.

Change won’t happen in one day, but if you push constantly, the message will eventually start to get through.

The Different UX Maturity Stages

There are many ways to do UX design. However, no matter the how, it is always important to be able to deliver results based on user-centered design

One of the most useful UX maturity models is the one by the Norman Nielsen group. Depending on how hard or easy it is for UX teams to do user research inside your company, participate in the different UX processes, and deliver user-centered results, you will be able to classify your organization. 

These are the possible UX maturity stages from worst to best:

Absent

Companies at this stage tend to be unaware of UX research, its importance, or even worse, they believe they don’t need it.

Limited

Although there is some UX research in these organizations, there doesn’t seem to be a systematic approach.

Emergent

Organizations in this UX maturity stage have UX professionals, but they still lack the right conditions to perform their work. Leadership is starting to see the value of UX but doesn’t totally believe it yet.

Structured

At this stage, organizations acknowledge the importance of UX research and their processes reflect it. However, there is still some work to be done with the leadership team.

Integrated

A key characteristic of this UX maturity stage is that the leadership sees the value of user research and makes decisions based on research findings.

User-Driven

Companies rarely reach this stage of UX maturity. Here, the organization breathes and thinks in terms of user research.

UX Maturity and App Development

Your organization does not need to have the highest level of UX maturity. Although being user-centered is relevant to your business goals, sometimes understanding user research and its importance and benefits is enough.

When it comes to app development, it is important to listen to users. Failing to do user research can cost you a lot, and you don’t want to waste your time and money on redoing things that could have been done properly from the start.

When building an app, there are many things to consider, and small details can sometimes make a big difference. You don’t want to make quick assumptions on matters that can mean a big deal to your users.

That is why one key aspect of any successful UX strategy is to work with partners that have a strong UX maturity. An app development partner with a strong background in UX research can help you build an app that speaks directly to your users. 

Understand the UX maturity model and make your app user-centered.

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