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The 8 Stages of the UX maturity model – is your company UX-ready?4 min read

May 16, 2019 3 min read

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The 8 Stages of the UX maturity model – is your company UX-ready?4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the early days of computing, around 1945-1965, hardware was so expensive that the most cost-effective approach was to teach people how to use the system, and to enslave them to the computer’s needs.

Today more and more developers are aiming exact the opposite – the computer to be enslaved by the people’s needs.

If there are still devs and designers who are not interested in the users or their needs, they are absolutely beginners in the progress of the today’s corporate UX maturity.

According to Nielsen Norman Group, there are

8 stages of every corporate UX progress.

We have to be able to analyse and match our own organisations with the following steps, if we want to see what our next stage is good to be in the best future.

As we have already explained the Stage 1 above, broadly named as “Hostility toward usability”, let’s move on to the next one.

Stage 2: Developer-Centered User Experience

Using only a few words, the second level could be explained as “Teams reliant upon intuition”.

At this level, the organisation has already realized that making design easier and funnier for people to use would bring more profit. They manage it as hanging on their intuition, since they are users as well.

Stage 3: Skunkworks User Experience

Still most of the design team’s decisions rely on their own judgment, but at the next level, some external data comes in hand.

For example, UX activities such as recruiting a couple of users for a simple test, or hiring an external expert to assess the user-experience quality.

Actually, there is no need of huge amount of people for testing, so as to advance your product.

It is proven that 5 to 7 test users tell you the same information as 15 to 20 test users will.

Or as according to Jeff Sauro of MeasuringU, testing only 5 users is turning up 85% of the interface problems. If you have 3 test users, you’ll understand 65% of them.

Stage 4: Dedicated UX Budget

Though skunkworks is effective, it’s still far from the professional UX activity as a discipline. What is missing is a dedicated budget.

You’re at stage 4, if you’ve already convinced the higher-ups that the company will only profit from taking small steps in improving the UX process, AND however small, you’ve formed a concrete budget to do this, meaning the UX is planned ahead.

We’re getting closer, but it takes time and a line of a successful projects to reach the ultimate UX maturity.

Stage 5: Managed UX

We made it, almost.

At this level, what we have is an official UX group which tends to grow, led by a UX manager.

The common part here is that we still focus on user testing, happening not early enough in the development though. The difference is that it happens more consistently. This way a methodology is formed and the members are able to learn from each other.

Stage 6: Systematic User-Centered Design (UCD) Process

Early user research is better than user interface at the last minute, isn’t it?

The early paper prototypes for example are commonly used from companies at that stage of their UX maturity. They are easy and cheap to implement, at best. The user experience quality throughout all design steps could be easily tracked, before even making the real stuff, which saves you money and effort.  

Stage 7: Integrated UCD

If you want to progress to this stage, you have to convince all UX managers that the user research is an essential part of their job, as long as their budget is already large enough.

Stage 7 is hardly achievable. However, employing usability data to determine what should be build, is getting us closer to the UX paradise.

Stage 8: User-Driven Corporation

In most cases, it takes around 20 years to get to this stage.

The used methods here actually affect the business strategy and activity beyond interface design. Overall directions and priorities are discussed.

Final words

With the help of the UX maturity stages, we could measure our status and progress.

Ever being curious about how to outperform the competition? Make sure your organisation is getting more mature daily.

At the end of the day, we all work at different companies and at different stages. However, we have to move the company culture forward one way or another, because we’re making it for the people.