Congratulations, you got the job! Now, starts the hard work of becoming a contributing member of the team. While you have been hired based on your skills and experience, a lot of your success depends on how well you navigate the conditions you work in.
These conditions are specifically linked to the level of UX maturity for your company. How does the company value UX? Are you there to actually improve the experience or are you expected to make a beastly piece of software “prettier”?
Assumptions. You are coming in as a part of a team to create deliverables for the development team to build. The company has had a long history with development practices for software, but it is new to UX.
What is UX maturity?
If you search for UX maturity models there various ways to show how much a company is adopting UX and integrating into the company processes and culture. A few years ago, InVision published its version and has since circulated the UX community as a framework to measure our own employers.Other UX maturity models include but are not limited to the Nielsen Norman Group, Usability maturity scale, Forrester’s experience-based differentiation, a Maturity model for customer experience, and Indicators of UX maturity.
How to assess UX maturity level?
A lot of companies say that they value UX. The test is to see how they value it. Do the processes and culture uphold key user-centric principles that positively impact the experience for the users? Can you link the work the UX team is doing to the business impact?
Start with secondary research with data you can find publicly on the web. The goal is to find data that will help you understand what the company does, its position in the market, who is working or has worked there, and a feel for the company culture.
Review publically available data
- Crunchbase: review of the company, leadership, founders, funding, and acquisitions
- G2: product reviews, competitors, and potential pain points for users
- Gartner peer insights review: customer experience, capabilities, and deployment
- Glassdoor: pros and cons of company pay, leadership, and culture
- LinkedIn: current and past employees, online job related activities
- Youtube: talks from company leaders and peers as well as product demos
Interview for your team
- How many people are on the UX team?
- How are they organized (i.e. Embedded, agency, hybrid)?
- What is the ratio of development to product management to UX?
- What other UX disciplines are present (i.e. UX designers, visual designers, UX researchers, UX writers, etc.)?
- Who is the highest ranking UX employee (i.e. manager, director, VP, etc.)?
- Who does this person report to?
You can get a feel of the current impact the team may have on the product and the company strategy by the number of UXers and the level of the highest-ranking UX employee.
Consult with more senior UXers
- What are the potential growth paths for UX designers?
- How has the team changed and evolved over time?
- What are the hardest things they are trying to fix with how they work?
Leverage your leadership
- What is the vision of the UX team (i.e. mission, by-laws, etc.)?
- How does this align with current thinking around UX team maturity?
- What is the vision for the product and company?
- How does the UX team vision enable the answers to the question above?
- What obstacles does the team face to achieving this vision today?
This data can give you an idea of the maturity of team culture. What aspects of tools, culture, and processes are available to support the team? What things can you help build to strengthen the team?
Reach out to the product and development team and executive stakeholders
When you start on your project, use this opportunity to better understand how your extended team (PM and developers) as well as executive stakeholders see your work. You can get an idea of how they view UX by what they think the project phases and tasks are. Are people asking for research on personas or testing? Are you a strategic partner or someone who sprinkles magic “make it pretty” dust on the UI?
Learn more on building trust with this post on stakeholder management.
With information on the company, product, leadership, your dev, and PM counterparts, your team, you should have a clear idea of UX maturity. You will have a clear expectation of the types of conversations you will need to have with your PM’s and developers at first. This will be the baseline for how you will need to educate and shift the conversation to a more mature UX organization.
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