UX & limited resources

Case studies: The UX “team of one” in action — survey

To assess the challenge that faces every day, cultivating a user-centered culture, it was imperative to identify where are we standing, as an individual, as a team, as a company. Based on Forrester Diagnostic tool (Gualtieri et al., 2009), I adapted the test to help me assess what are the UX awareness and capabilities at my current workplace, focusing the question on design and UX practice. Twelve professional were invited to participate all with implications on the digital services landscape (all replied). The specific number in each result is confidential (Appendix C for academic validation). To achieve a better outcome, best practices from Forrester Reseach (2009) where the foundation to a set of questions, based on (Gualtieri et al., 2009):

1. Understand the users and know how to design for them

2. Design first to avoid leaving user experience to chance

3. Test to make certain effective and matching users needs

4. Integrate user experience design into development life-cycle process


The overall UX Design Maturity scores identify the level of maturity within the organisation. The results were compared and matched with the key features from each stage summarised, from Jackob Nielsen (2006) findings. Based on the results of the observations and survey conducted inside the organisation, during the time this research is set, the result position the company on stage 3.

This survey should be conducted every three months and extend to more professional to assess the level of results.

UX Maturity Matrix key features from each stage summarised from Jackob Nielsen (2006) findings:

Stage 3: Specific User Experience: Organisation realizes that personal judgment is not the best approach to understanding of the customers. Most design decisions continue to base on judgment even with available data. Moreover, a few groups within the company has initiated small UX efforts (user testing, user experience quality assessment, etc.). No budget allocated and no official recognition of user experience as a discipline. All UX activities and user research are ad-hoc and driven by user advocates.

To be a Stage 4 a Dedicated UX Budget is present. The budget might cover only a single employee’s time or small team but trying to develop a systematic process. (Detail of all the UX Maturity Matrix (Nielsen, 2006), with explanation of work need for each level, can be found in Appendix C.)

The same survey was opened to the public and posted in three Facebook Closed and Public Groups specialised in UX Strategy and Design, for ten days. From 32 responses, the primary goal for this was to assess the relation between if “UX Strategy is a priority” and “if it has a budget allocation.” In this case, the answer is both Yes. One is related to the other. The result differs from the survey conducted inside my company.

The post advertising was open survey for 10 days in three Facebook groups: Ladies that UX Lisbon; DMM all crews, Hyper Island in the UK; User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA)


Tiny UX efforts and specific usability are effective. From moving from stage 3 to 4, is better to rely on results. Document the process to effective present user-centred design improvements with before/after comparisons to document the UX advances (Nielsen, 2006). To move up, proof of ROI is needed. A collection of results across user experience projects helps build the business case for moving to stage 5: managed user experience. As Nielsen states (2006), a user-centered organisation needs to progress through the same sequence of steps, with all the web tools available now; the process can be faster and more productive.


Isolation is bad. Driving conversations from principles and bridge organizational silos. Collaboration is always encouraged, and co-creation workshops happen.

How to tailor UX design process to culture organization. How to undercover UX and how culture is a critical difference to the adoption of design. Conduct research with minimal time and budget since UX time and financial constraints are a fact of life.

Individual are simultaneously members of different cultures. Cultures do overlap and can influence attitudes, opinions, motivations and behaviors. These can be spotted in various situations within the organization. Subcultures can have different ways of thinking and approaching problems. So how can designers address the situation? Shared understandings, sometimes going beyond the roles and responsibilities of their job descriptions, can help and narrow the existing gap.

To “do right” for the customer also depends on predispositions and understanding of mental models. Team members could have different viewpoints towards user experience: system-centric, business-centric, technologic-centric or design-centric approach. UX designer aims to think regarding meeting users’ needs, mitigating frustrations and user goal oriented.

Too much at the same time. Is a known fact that when people tackle everything at the same time the outcome is not the expected, existing behavior occur. Life is super busy and, when transformative habits need to happen, focus and reason are two elements that need to be very clear. Sabotaging our behaviors exist, people do it all the time, inside an organization and in their personal lives, also.

Data-driven design: buzz? Professionally, it is standard practice to have analytics, probably A/B testing, surveys, benchmarks, scores of usability tests and, perhaps ethnographic studies and interviews. Numbers in context are the user experience. Once data is filtered, contextualized and compared, it becomes information that can be communicated and acted on. UX is not a funnel (Pavliscak, 2015). The main goal when using data is to develop a better understanding of the experience.

Myths around data to take down: data means only numbers; numerical data is the only truth, the bigger the data set, the better; data is for managers, not designers; data do not help innovation.

Education. Designers need to educate colleagues and management about the value of creating a great user experience. Examples to approach the education path: user experience meet-ups and presentations to promote best practices; build prototypes demonstrating improvements to the existing solution; invite colleagues to usability sessions; share testimonials from frustrated customers; highlighting analytics on user experience.

For academic validation, details of the survey, commented and contextualised can be consulted at appendix C.

Originally published at ines-bravo-ux-ltd-resources.squarespace.com
January 2016
Inês Bravo: Industry Research Project . MA Digital Media Management (PT Crew 1) — Hyper Island, London, UK . October 2015 / January 2016 
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