Macadamian Blog

6 Indicators of an Organizations UX Maturity Level – Lessons In UX Maturity: Part 1

Jennifer Fraser & Scott Plewes

Like any function or practice, not all organizations have adopted or embraced UX design to the same degree or at comparable levels of maturity.

User Experience Maturity Model

“I think in order to design great products, you need to have the culture in place.”
– Cordell-Ratzlaff, 2010

Organizations are seeing the value of hiring user experience (UX) professionals and incorporating user-centered design. Big name companies such as Google and Apple have incorporated UX design as a centerpiece of their successes. The overall “maturity” of UX design in creating software and technology has made huge leaps over the past few decades. However, like any function or practice, not all organizations have adopted or embraced UX design to the same degree or at comparable levels of maturity.

While there are five levels of UX maturity that we outline in our white paper, Introducing UX into the Corporate Culture: A UX Maturity Model, here are the six key indicators that influence an organization’s level of maturity:

  1. The timing of UX involvement in the design and development process. The earlier UX is involved, the more mature the company.
  2. The UX expertise and resources in house and/or ability to bring in UX expertise quickly as needed.
  3. The use of appropriate techniques and deliverables to obtain and understand user input and capture UX design.
  4. The leadership and culture in the company. How well do the leaders and company as a whole appreciate the value and necessity of UX design from a business perspective?
  5. The degree to which UX processes are connected and integrated with other corporate processes that enable individuals to work together to create the user experience of the product(s).
  6. Design thinking is applied in the broadest perspective possible to drive consistent customer experience.

Below, we show how three of the six maturity indicators change over an organization’s evolution from beginning through to exceptional.
UX Maturity Model

UX Maturity and Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is widely known as a prolific inventor with 1,093 US patents to his name. While people generally associate his name with inventions such as the phonograph and the light bulb, Edison is also attributed to be the first inventor to apply mass production and cross-functional teamwork to the process of invention. Therefore he has been credited as the inventor of the first industrial research and design facility.

Edison brought together cross-functional teams of people: scientists, craftspeople, machinists, mathematicians, and engineers, and put them together in an environment filled with an amazing assortment of materials and tools and created what he referred to as his “invention factory.” In a Harvard Business Review article on, “Design Thinking,” Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, states that, “… Edison made it [innovation] a profession that blended art, craft, science, business savvy, and an astute understanding of customers and markets.” When Edison invented the light bulb, he didn’t just create the light bulb. He created the bulb, the power distribution system to get the power to the bulb, and the power metering system to measure how much electricity was being used so he could charge for it.

Design thinking, and by extension, the UX Maturity of an organization, can be seen as a descendant of that tradition. But, for various reasons, we lost sight of that tradition and design came to be treated as a downstream step in the development process (similar to the UX Maturity seen in Stage 2: Awareness). Eventually, during the late half of the 20th century, design started to become valued as a competitive asset in automotive and consumer goods. This began to push design further upstream in the development process. Now, with the popularization of concepts such as “Design Thinking,” instead of asking designers to make an already developed idea more attractive to consumers, designers are being asked to create ideas that better meet consumers’ needs and desires. This request no longer applies solely to products. It also applies to processes, services and interactions.

In parts 2 through 4 in this series we will examine case studies for organizations in the adopting stage and look at interactions between the various indicators and their impact on the relative success of the product design and development.

Part 2: Consequences of an Underutilized UX Team
Part 3: Bringing UX to a Legacy Product Revitalization
Part 4: Considering UX in the Whole Ecosystem

Introducing UX into the Corporate Culture

In this white paper you will discover which stage of UX Maturity your organization is at and the next steps needed to rise to the next level.

Download Now


Author Overview

Jennifer Fraser

Jennifer is Macadamian’s Director of Design and she brings more than fifteen years of experience working as an interaction designer. Jennifer has experience being thrown in at any phase of a project from discovery, analysis, and definition, to development and delivery. She works closely with clients to understand not only their needs, but also the needs of their customers. Jennifer has a holistic understanding of how to integrate design and development in an agile process, built on years of experience and much head banging (unfortunately not to music). She is a founding member of the Interaction Design Association’s Ottawa chapter and sits on the Design Advisory Board of Algonquin College. Jennifer holds both a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s in Architecture from Carleton University, which may, or may not, relate to her passion for designing and building cocktails.
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.
  • ranae

    I get at 404 when I click on the “Complete our Checklist …” link. Help!

    • Macadamian

      Hey Ranae, That tool as been discontinued. Thanks for letting us know. The broken link has now been removed.

  • Devastated Mama

    Great article Jennifer and Scott! And greetings from the Left Coast! This will be helpful for my while I establish a new UX practice at WorkSafe BC (worker’s compensation board). Cheers – Darlene Arriola