Lately, we’ve been writing a lot about the differences between UX and CX and how their respective design principles work in tandem to build the digital experience you deliver.
But we have yet to dig into the UX maturity scale in detail, and it’s time to explain why doing a UX maturity assessment is a critical first step toward getting the business outcomes you’re looking for.
It can feel like the bottom-line benefits that come with increased efficiencies for your customers and team are small or intangible, but every improvement toward the next stage of UX maturity comes with significant benefits.
What Is the UX Maturity Scale?
Anyone with access to a search engine knows that there’s no single, definitive UX maturity scale.
Like the automation maturity model we often discuss, the stages of these models fall along a continuum. As UX Executive Natalie Hansen outlined on her blog a few years back, there are different UX maturity models for different types of organizations and their customer’s needs.
At Apexon, we like to use the same model as the Nielsen Norman Group, which includes six levels:
At the first level, organizational attention to the user’s experience is an afterthought and UX is nonexistent. At the second level, the user experience is taken into account, but it’s not yet addressed.
Engagement really begins at the emergent stage, where UX professionals enter the organization and begin a systematic effort to improve the user experience for the benefit of the company. At this point, project timelines are still directed by other internal initiatives from marketing and sales teams, but you can begin to introduce UX methods to better inform designs at this point.
By the time we reach the fourth stage, UX is a known concern throughout the company and it is a part of conversations between cross functional stakeholders. Here, concern for the user experience and UX-informed design thinking begins to impact the timeline for projects.
At the fifth stage, user research and the data that comes from these efforts is a critical part of the company’s efforts toward efficiency. Here, you’ll see concern for UX is an integrated part of the design process.
Finally, the sixth stage represents companies that start with user-driven research to inform the design and development of their digital products and experiences. Understanding the users’ wants, needs, and motivations comes first.
When Is the Right Time for a UX Maturity Assessment?
There is no best time to perform a UX maturity assessment; whenever you get started with improvements in this area, you must take a frank look at where your organization falls on the UX maturity model.
The good news is that if you’re asking these questions, it’s likely you’re at least at the limited stage of UX maturity, if not farther along in your journey. And many organizations have started to ask these questions for the first time since the pandemic began, in part because many companies have been pushed to operate in a fully digital environment for the first time during this period.
For more mature organizations that already have UX professionals on staff, chances are that those experts are the stakeholders asking this question and looking to advance the effort to make the design process more user-driven. These folks are, in effect, pushing their organization to get more out of the investment they’ve already started to make by hiring UX staff. To get the most ROI out of those hires, it is critical to continue to interrogate how well you’re advancing toward the goal of user-driven design and innovation.
In either case, it’s critical that you get a clear look at what user experience data you already have on hand, if any, and how it’s being used throughout your organization (or not).
No Digital Transformation Can Succeed without User Input
If you’ve invested in transforming your customer experiences to meet the demands of today’s digital-first environment but you haven’t examined how this is impacting your customer’s experience, it’s more than likely you’re encountering a number of challenges.
Maybe you’re seeing huge churn, low numbers of customer engagement, and a dropping NPS. All of these could be evidence that you’re not paying attention to the insights your users have to share with you, or worse, that you’ve designed a digital customer experience that doesn’t align with your customer’s goals for interacting with your brand and product.
I’m a big advocate for integrating empathy in digital processes for a reason: you can’t design a superlative UX without careful consideration for how each step will feel for your customers, and you can’t foster strong customer relationships without a product that makes people feel like you have an intuitive understanding of their needs at every step of their journey.
Without a laser focus on the customer experience, you’re sure to lose money on your next big digital transformation effort.
The Benefits of Maturing Your UX
I’ve said it before: Every single person at your company contributes to UX, whether you realize this or not. Harnessing the power of that attention and care for producing positive customer outcomes at every level of your company isn’t just something executives say to inspire a sense of camaraderie – it’s critical to designing exceptional products and experiences.
If you’d like to know where your company falls on the UX maturity model or get help from our team of experts, contact us for a UX maturity assessment.