User experience (UX) is about more than just creating beautiful interfaces and experiences for your customers. It’s about understanding who they are and what they need from your product or service before you even begin designing it.
UX is a long-term approach to designing products and services. It helps companies increase their bottom line by focusing on customer satisfaction rather than profits alone.
Human-Centered Design (HCD) is an extension of UX. It focuses on solving problems by understanding human needs, behaviors, and experiences. This approach requires designers to constantly evaluate their work through the lens of their users’ needs, behaviors, and culture.
At this stage, senior management may have heard about the importance of user experience but haven’t yet decided whether they need it or not. There may be no formal budget available to invest in UX activities, so practitioners are likely working on their own time or using internal resources like those from product management or development — although these may not always be available either.
Repeatable means that there are research processes and a toolbox of generative and evaluative methods from which to draw. There are templates for all the key deliverables and tools to help you collect data. This makes it possible for researchers to learn the methods and use them again and again on future projects. Product direction may inform research projects as opposed to open questions, bets, and decisions that need to be made.
UXers are applying their research in new ways to improve products or services. Research becomes an integral part of product development. The research team develops a hypothesis, tests it, and acts on the results of the test. They’re actively engaged with engineering, product management, marketing and other functions that have an impact on design decisions. They are proactively identifying questions and familiarizing stakeholders with the value provided by research. The insights from research are used to design products that fit users’ needs and behaviors.
This is the maturity stage of UX where the UX team has been integrated into the product development cycle and is plugged into the organization’s strategy and goals. This means that the UX team has been successful in establishing itself as a key stakeholder who can influence product direction, and it has been successful in building relationships with other departments (engineering, PMs, etc.) to get their buy-in. The UX team is no longer seen as a group of outsiders who come in at the last minute to make changes to products before they ship. It is now seen as an essential part of the product development process.
In a mature practice, research informs design, and development informs research so that the entire process creates a seamless loop of learning and iteration that informs future decisions. All three (research + product + engineering) elements are working together in unison to create an optimized experience for users.
The benefits of a mature or optimized UX practice are many. The biggest benefit is the ability to innovate faster.
UX maturity allows you to experiment and innovate more quickly because you have a solid foundation of methods and processes in place. When you have expertise in your team, it’s easier for everyone to do their job well, and this leads to better results.
Another benefit of UX maturity is that it reduces waste in your product development process. A mature practice helps ensure that there are fewer mistakes and less rework required during the product development process. This saves time and money as well as allows you to focus on what’s important: creating a great user experience by delivering value through your product or service offering.
A mature UX practice also allows companies to make better decisions about what features should be included in their products and services. It creates an environment where teams can collaborate effectively to understand their users better so they can provide solutions that meet those needs. This is particularly important when it comes to designing new features or products that haven’t been seen before—such as voice interfaces or artificial intelligence (AI) assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant or chatbots like Microsoft Cortana or Facebook M.
The UX discipline is maturing. A profession once dominated by artisans, designers, and developers is now being influenced by business executives, product managers, and human-centered researchers. As a result, we see the emergence of a new breed of UX professionals who are able to bridge the divide between business goals and technical execution.
Since a matured UX practice is a strategic approach that requires collaboration between teams across departments, it can help agencies differentiate themselves from competitors in an increasingly competitive market.