Sometimes individuals, teams, and entire organizations believe they're doing enough UX work because they perform the occasional interview or usability test. That mindset can create massive gaps in the knowledge of a product's users and lead to design decisions that are based solely on preference or "gut" rather than data.
Sadly, it can lead to products that miss the mark for the organization.
An essential role of the modern-day designer is to introduce, educate, and exercise UX best practices throughout the life of a product.
The User Experience (UX) of a product is the result of a user interacting with something (a web app, a service, a real-life object) and the internal feeling, or experience, the user gets from using that product.
That internal feeling is subjective. It’s based on variables such as a user’s environment, their relationship with technology, how you have designed and presented the product, and more.
Try as we might, we can design a product with the hope that it leads to a desired experience, but we can’t quite know all that is going on internally with a user. If your personal and team-wide knowledge of UX is immature, it will be difficult to create successful user experiences. And because of that, you may not achieve the goals the business desires. When you fail to serve customers effectively, the business will have a hard time succeeding.
Below are five signs your organization may be suffering from low UX maturity and some questions to ask yourself, your peers, and your organization to help you grow.
You often hear the dreaded phrase "our designer will make it pretty" from the people you work with in regards to your website or product. That phrase is like nails on a chalkboard to any self-respecting modern-day product designer, as it implies that the work of the designer is simply to push some pixels around and decorate content in a timely fashion.
This is a red flag that your organization is suffering from low UX maturity. Still, it is also an excellent opportunity for you to exhibit how a holistic design process contributes to a successful product.
There are many organizations today that still do not see the value of research within the organization and make excuses for not exercising it.
Teams with high UX maturity do research at critical times throughout the life of a product. This ensures the relevance of the product matches where the organization is heading and takes into account the impact on its users.
Your organization doesn't have a habit of testing the usability of your product, and you often hear things like: "We'll test later, the product isn't done yet." Much like research, teams with high UX maturity are testing as early as possible. These organizations know that the earlier you test, the easier it is to make changes. It also creates a greater impact on the quality of the product overall.
You, the designer, must avoid spending too much time in a bubble designing for what you think the user wants (which is really just you designing for yourself) by injecting user feedback into your process. When are you testing?
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In the organization, just one or two people have knowledge of UX and are the key to good UX practices. If these people were to leave your team, good UX would most likely suffer or fall by the wayside. In organizations with high-level UX maturity, UX thrives without their best UX person present because good UX is taught, empowered, and part of the entire process.
Still, to this day, people in design and user research aren't invited into product meetings. The meetings about the product and its customers are often attended by product managers and engineers only. If UX roles aren't present in critical meetings, their ideas and knowledge aren't being sought out like other team members' and therefore aren't impacting the product.
All of these signs present an excellent opportunity for you to influence and contribute positively to UX maturity. Not only for you, but for your team - and ultimately, the products you build.
A 12 min, fun and informative video from AJ&Smart. The video suggestions for this one present some good further learning.
One of my all-time favorite reads on the subject of UX. I'm on my fourth read/copy of this having given away the first three to fellow teammates.
The design team at Headway attended Front Conference in 2019 and learned a ton from some incredible leaders in the space of UX. The folks at Front have made those talks available on YouTube.
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