Strong user-centred companies don’t become that way overnight! These organizations gradually evolve and mature.
Where does your company stand when it comes to UX maturity? By understanding your company’s current commitment to users, you can make decisions that will lead to stronger company investment in UX resources down the line.
High commitment to user research and design practises is what helps elevate companies like Apple, IBM, Nike, and Disney. It might take a long time, but prioritising UX is certainly worth the fight.
Researchers have discussed UX maturity in different ways in recent years, but with a lot of commonalities. Let’s look at a few models to understand how a company’s UX culture typically evolves.
First, Nielsen’s stages of maturity focus on how a company prioritizes usability —progressing from hostility to full acceptance. A pair of 2006 articles by Dr. Jakob Nielsen describe this process as eight stages: four early stages followed by four later stages of UX maturity.
Concept7 created a visual for Nielsen’s 8 stages of UX maturity…
Jared Spool frames his talk around the example of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts company. Between 1997 and 2014, Disney advanced from having a barely usable website for buying park tickets to debuting the Magic Bands— wearable devices that provide a seamless guest experience for park ticketing, hotel room access, restaurant reservations, and more.
A big leap, to be sure, but it took many years for Disney to achieve this result.
A slide from Jared Spool’s Beyond the UX Tipping Point talk emphasises Walt Disney Parks and Resort’s evolution from Dark Ages — a horribly unusable website in 1997 —to Infused UX Design — the wearable Magic Bands introduced in 2014.
To progress UX maturity, company leadership needs to possess both a good attitude toward user-centred processes and the practical resources (budget and time) to support these practices.
A company can gradually become more user-centred as it grows, but it takes a lot of dedication to get there.
If there is no UX advocate in your organization, you may need to leap forward and be that person! Dr. Jakob Nielsen suggests taking small UX steps rather than taking a big, giant leap into UX. Build on these wins and build trust within your organization to slowly improve your company’s UX.
Here are some more tips for improving your UX leadership skills and pushing the UX maturity needle forward: