In this talk, JJ Kercher, Head of Customer Experience for Appfolio, gives a walkthrough of the UX maturity model from her journey.
The UX maturity model (read from bottom to up) in various stages of an organization:
Stage 1 - Unrecognised: UX is not essential and doesn't have focus.
Stage 2 - Interested: UX is essential but receives little funding.
Stage 3 - Invested: UX is crucial; formalised programs emerge.
Stage 4 - Committed: UX is critical, and executives are actively involved.
Stage 5 - Engaged: UX is one of the core tenets of the organization's strategy.
Stage 6 - Embedded: Organization now embeds UX in its fabric and is no longer discussed separately.
Stage 2: Interested
At this stage, typically, the design team (often just one person) is disproportionate to the number of engineers in the organization.
UX is positioned as an advisory or consultant role.
Design work is still tactical and has not gotten into a routine with recurring deliverables following processes whatsoever.
In this stage, invest in:
Be inclusive with the engineering team
Learn what drives them
Learn their language for effective communication and buy-in
Tell meaningful stories that are both relevant and in an understandable context
Focus heavily on Usability testing
Get into the practice of whiteboard brainstorming sessions
Use methods that are familiar to the engineering team (user flows and diagramming)
The design team:
Very likely the leader is an individual contributor at this stage
Ensure it doesn't break any existing working processes
Adopt and learn research skills
Stage 4: Committed
The team grows (or should grow) to fill the designer to engineer and product manager ratio gap
Designers get embedded on existing functional/ business teams
The need for UX specialisation emerges -- generalised UX practice no longer can hold the fort
The design work still would be tactical and solution-oriented
At this stage, invest in:
Consistent design matters the most to the engineering team. Delivering that makes everybody's lives easier.
Work closely with product management; discuss how to prioritize design.
Focus on creating adjacent experiences such as help documentation
Create a space or forum for cross-functional design
Document processes, progress, and other auxiliary documents
Invest in design systems
Embrace tools to understand and share behavioral data like web, app analytics
As a leader, invest time in building relationships, coaching the team, hiring bright talent and user/ customer evangelism
Formalise design reviews
Involve the team in critical decisions like hiring
Stage 6: Embedded
The product, by this stage, will be mature but would be growing, scaling, becoming complex
The team will be more structured with individuals having clear career paths
Reliable designer to product manager relationships will be established
The organization also witnesses design and research consultation throughout
More outside-in thinking across all customer/ user-facing roles
UX informs product and business about strategies
At this very mature stage, invest time in:
Work Outcomes over the output generated by peer teams
Work with the product management team to empower UX research as a method for needs vs. feature discovery
Outside in thinking across all customer-facing roles
Polish design systems (UI/ interactions/ copywriting)
UX folks should gradually get into action by becoming product owners
Bring in new methods to structurally solve problems (e.g., Design sprints)
Focus heavily on journey mapping
The design team:
Leadership should continue to focus on relationship building along with growing the leadership bench with lead and manager roles
Create career paths for all in the team
Ensure decision making remains flat in the team
Grow the business know-how within designers
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