Level 0: Initial Stage
We don’t know what we don’t know… Initially, your organization may not even be aware of the concept of user experience. Someone shares this knowledge and a grass root effort begins. Usually it is an ad hoc effort on a small project. If the effort is successful and the benefits are recognized then an organization may invest in user experience and advance to the next stage.
Ad hoc efforts may include a simple heuristic review to determine areas for improvement and executing the easiest ones to capture “low hanging fruit” and show immediate benefits of investing in these efforts. Sometimes, it is as easy as bringing in an expert to suggest simple changes to a process or design that can yield big returns in increase efficiency, effectiveness or satisfaction.
At this initial stage, it is typically undocumented and driven in a reactive manner by users’ dissatisfaction. Not all of the stakeholders or participants may know that the effort is taking place. As a result, the new effort is likely to depend heavily on the knowledge and the efforts of relatively few people or small groups. An ad hoc effort with no approved budget may capture “low-hanging” fruit that leads to bringing in a professional in a UX discipline.
Level 1: Professional Discipline
Once user experience is adopted as a professional discipline then some user experience processes are repeatable with consistent results. The organization may have adopted developing wireframes as a part of their elaboration phase, found that it reduced cycle time in requirement analysis with development, and integrated this activity into their process. Or maybe they found that conducting a usability evaluation identified easy changes that increased end-user effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction that increased adoption and retention (and revenue). The newly introduced user experience activities to the processes may not repeat for all the projects in the organization at this stage but advocates may use some basic activities to track cost and benefits to start capturing return on investment.
At this stage, the minimum user experience process discipline is in place to repeat earlier successes on projects with similar applications and scope. The organizations project status may now include user experience deliverables to management like completion of major user experience tasks and activities at major milestones.
Consistent positive results from integrated user experience activities may promote a dedicated budget and the forming of a user experience group that develops consistent processes that lead to the next level.
Level 2: Managed Standard & Consistent Process
When the user experience is managed there are documented standards and process oversight. These standards and oversight are used to establish consistence performance across projects. Projects apply standards, tailored, if necessary, within similarly guidelines.
Upper management may establish and mandate these user experience standard for the organization’s set of standard processes, and ensures that these objectives are appropriately addressed. The user experience roles, activities, and artifacts may be integrated into some of the organization’s processes. User experience resources and tasks may be added to template project plans.
Measured results may proof a reduction in the cost of cycle time associate with definition, development, and testing along with training and support and/or an increase in customer satisfaction, retention, and adoption that captures the attention of executive management. The organization may decide that user experience must now be considered in their overall corporate strategy and integrated into their core competence which leads to the next level of user experience corporate maturity.