Macadamian Blog

Part 3: The Competitive Advantage of Using User Experience

Scott Plewes

Discussing a company in the awakening stage

UX Maturity Model

This is the third in a series discussing the benefits of user experience. Catch up on part 1 and part 2.

Stage Two: Awakening 
At this stage, the organization may be genuinely considering UX design with an eye towards improving it, but still with little formal structure. In
fact there is probably significant misunderstanding of the real nature of
UX design. Usually no UX professionals are in the organization, though an outside “guru” may be brought in or consulted from time to time. UX design improvements or insights gained during the product design phase only get implemented in bits and pieces in the final product.

Out in the marketplace, the products must still differentiate themselves primarily on functionality or other aspects of the business beyond the direct product experience. The risk of competitive displacement remains high
if competitors can match the key value propositions while differentiating themselves on user experience. Organizations at this stage must decide
to what extent they wish to invest in introducing formal UX processes and practices in order to forestall the competition.

Indicators Of An Organization At This Stage
You can tell that your organization is probably in the “Awakening” stage if:

• UX design is a “hot” topic of debate for at least some projects/products

• People are making design decisions or suggestions based on some article they just read, a conference they attended or their personal interpretation of Steve Jobs’ biography

• Most UX design activities involve design reviews with considerable discussion, yet frustration with the limited progress being made and disagreement on how to actually resolve UX design issues

• Most user “requirements” are confined to marketing input or functional improvements

• There is little user feedback or it is limited to asking users their opinions on design or functionality

• There may be UX design goals, but they tend to be quite general or hard to measure (“we want to win a design award”, or “the interface should be intuitive and straightforward”)

• If UX professionals are involved in projects it tends to be either one senior consultant or a more junior UX employee.

• There is inconsistent awareness and buy-in to making UX design invest- ments beyond a few people (or pockets of individuals in larger organiza- tions). 
critical success Factor to achieve the next Level 
To build on the beginnings of awareness, launch a pilot project, overseen by experts, with a clear connection between UX design goals and a business objective.

The bottom line on why very little good UX is getting out the door: despite glimmers of awareness, there’s just insufficient expert UX horsepower and no entrenched practices.

To read more, check out our whitepaper entitled A UX Maturity Model for Companies Seeking Competitive Advantage

Author Overview

Scott Plewes

As VP User Experience Design, Scott brings over 20 years of experience in understanding customers and how to incorporate their needs into software product design. He's put his skills to work on overseeing the user experience design of dozens of desktop, Web, and mobile applications. Scott holds a Master's degree in Science from Queen's University, and prior to Macadamian, he worked as part of Nortel's Usability Design Group. While Scott would have you believe he is an ardent NFL and NHL supporter, he is still a physics geek at heart. His secret passions include bad science fiction movies and even worse - action ones; and trying to understand Shakespeare… and failing badly. When Scott is not working he's either his kids personal chauffeur, or more likely sound asleep on the couch… the one hobby he has truly mastered.