Building and growing a design team is the biggest opportunity one can get within the entire span of a design career. However, landing up into organisations where UX is undermined as a discipline, and just considered as a checklist item, poses an enormous challenge. In this article, I want to shares a designer’s journey about the effort it takes to bring an organisation to attain the highest level of UX maturity.
Let’ understand what is UX maturity? In simple terms, it is all about giving the level of importance to the UX as a function. The maturity model assesses an organization’s UX maturity and at each stage, there are challenges which need to be addressed to move up the level.
Stage 1: No Design
A lot of time is being spent at this point in understanding the company’s operating model. To better understand this, setting up a 1x1 meeting with the business leaders and building awareness about the UX team would be a great start. These meetings are intended to build relationships between UX and business and also understand the existing product development process. Needless to say, you won’t find UX as part of the process.
These meetings also provide an opportunity to showcase what UX can offer in the project development process. Post these discussions engineering team is likely to reach out to the UX asking for small design help. This may just be an assist in aligning a button inside a UI at the correct location. But where is the team, and where are the funds to build a team.
Pick this up, wear a designers hat, this is a great opportunity. Sell your solution to the stakeholders. If you can gain confidence and the stakeholders are impressed, you are likely to get more work. Also, leave a note about funds.
Stage 2: Design as styling
Continuing the leadership connections can bring us some quick wins, but most of the projects offered to the UX are about making the UI look better. Don’t get disheartened. Keep evangelizing about UX, schedule seminars on design thinking, give talks on UX ‘s importance and ROI. Invite all the relevant stakeholders into the workshops, especially the functional leaders.
This is a baby step towards creating a design-driven organization. Since the word “UX” has just started to spread, this is time multiple engineering time will reach out for slightly larger and complex UI projects. But we need to pass the message strongly, UX team is not here to do UI, we are here to build intuitive experiences to solve the core user problems. Does UX differs from UI, of course, it does, get this concept clear with the business.
But, meanwhile supporting few UI projects can build confidence, it can quickly get you some funds to set up a team.
Stage 3: Design as Process
While the process of evangelization and meeting with business leaders is still on, and the funds have begun to roll in, its time to work on a process.
Begin building a process document, for external as well as internal teams. The requirement would be to build an engagement model for the external team. The engagement model would dictate terms between design and engineering team in building a collaborative environment.
The document will explain specifics of the project kick-off, requirements gathering, design estimation, design deliverables and integration support.
The UCD process is internal to the UX team which defines the various stages of executing a design project. A process is made to not only be on paper, pilot it, sometimes there are gaps, that need to be addressed. Begin early, and fail early.
Stage 4: Design as a Strategy
When products enterprises reach this level, they are extremely successful. We now have a dedicated budget for the UX and it is necessary to streamline the process and practice of the team.
The Design team is seen as a gatekeeper at this stage and before the market launch, all products have to pass through that gateway.
At this stage, the design team is seen everywhere, from research to strategy, from tactical to implementation.
Stage 5: This is not the end
It’s easy to attain the desired state, staying in that state is tough. Start driving for innovations and build a sustainable business model. Grow your team with a vision in mind.
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