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 - Unrecognized: 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; formalized 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)
- 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 specialization emerges -- generalized 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
- Weekly standups
- Formalize 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
- 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