UX has been around a long time now, but still organisations struggle to embed it into their operations and do not know where to start. However, the importance of user experience approach to business requirements is more and more prevalent today. Today, we can see a wide range of maturity levels, from those who say they are user centred in design (and are actually not), to those who say they are very immature (but have large dedicated UX teams conducting field studies), and everything in between. So how do you know how mature your organisation is in your approach to UX? And where to start?

What is UX maturity? It is a framework to enable organisations to categorise the quality and effectiveness of their user research processes and practice. This will indicate where you sit in your approach to design within your organisation. 

Since the '90s, UX experts have been defining different methods to analyse and categorise UX maturity as a guide. In 1997, Jared Spool made one of the first attempts and brought technology, users and developers together. This was a great start to introduce UX to the non-believers.  Jacob Nielsen (a legend in the UX world) added his version in 2006, and since then, many others have built upon this. 

So, which one to use? Realistically, you can take any of them as your starting point, but below is a good example. It was first produced by Bruce Temkin and is now a common industry standard. 

Many like to think that they are like Apple, with UX embedded within, which is also known as a fully outside-in approach, but the reality is there are many factors which can block this progress: (i) investment in UX resources or external help (ii) business requirements driven from within (inside-out) (iii) top down culture of non-believers (iv) bad previous experiences (budget or people). All these factors can leave a bad taste when they fail, but we are told to fail fast and fail often. If you do this in design, there is no problem failing. Throw the wireframe away and start again. If you fail half way through development (waterfall), the cost of failure can be huge. 

So, what is your organisation's UX maturity? If you are in the lower stages, don't worry. Help is out there! Here are some tips to climbing that ladder, and one day you could be at the top with the likes of Apple, delivering for your users, what your users want.

  • Leverage outside experience (bring in the experts, like everis)
  • Foster data-driven UX design (from the outside-in instead of the inside-out)
  • Build credibility (get buy in, internally from business)
  • Mix UX with Agile (bring UX into the iterative development process)

Once you have these steps achieved, you'll be on your way. A fully User Centred Design approach (embedded UX) might be a long way away, but take it one step or phase at a time. The first place to start is to do field studies with users. Gather all the data and learn who your users are and what they want.

One final tip: bring your CXOs to usability test sessions. Once they see the value of user feedback in person, the business buy-in will accelerate further and trickle down across all departments.