UX strategy and UX maturity

This page contains definitions of basic UX strategy and UX maturity terms.

A UX strategy describes how a UX team plans to meet their organization’s business goals and business strategy.

UX maturity is the ability of an organization or a product team to define and meet UX goals that help to achieve business goals.

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Business goal

Definition: A description of what an organization expects to accomplish over a specific period of time.

Note: Businesses outline their goals in their business strategies. Goals might pertain to the organization as a whole, departments, employees, customers, etc.

Examples of business goals for a fictitious airline, Gamma Airlines:

  • Offer the best service among competing airlines; the competing airlines are Alpha Airlines and Beta Airlines
  • Increase profits by cutting costs
  • Win young travelers
  • Increase the market share among 18-28 year old people from 25% to 50%
  • Win frequent travelers
  • Create efficient and sustainable operating platforms

Business strategy

Definition: A long-range plan for helping the business achieve specific business goals.

Note: Strategy is about changing something

The core of any strategy is:
A.    Where are we now?
B.    Where do we want to be in 3 years?
C.    What are the right tactics to get from A to B?
D.    Once we have reached B, how will we prove it to our colleagues?
E.     What might stop us, and how will we overcome that?

A good business strategy is like a lighthouse.
It helps the organization make decisions that will lead it to a desired goal.

UX goal

Definition: A statement that communicates the essence of the user experience that UX professionals are attempting to enable for users to achieve a business goal.

UX vision

Definition: A broad narrative statement or visualization that communicates one or more UX goals.

UX goals and UX visions need to be in contrast to the existing UX. A UX vision does not highlight a product, but an experience.

UX visions are often kept private. They are considered trade secrets of the organization.

By defining a UX vision, an organization sets a standard by which it can evaluate every UX decision it makes along the way and judge whether it supports, enhances, or detracts from that vision. Keeping all team members focused on a desired outcome can be an accelerator.

The visualization of a UX vision can be a prototype, a storyboard or a video. For example, in 1987, Apple came out with a concept video that showed a hypothetical computer of the future. The video touched upon numerous upcoming technological advances, including voice technology, tablets, and videoconferencing, to name a few.

UX strategy

Definition: A long-range plan for helping the business achieve specific business goals through UX activities.

A UX strategy can be about

  • A strategy specific for the organization’s products and services.
  • How to position UX within the organization, for example increase usability maturity

Examples of UX strategies that correspond to the business goals for Gamma Airlines above:

  • Measure the customer experience of Alpha, Beta and Gamma Airlines. Identify pain points for Gamma Airlines and how they can be relieved
  • Participate in the conception, design and implementation of the UX of the required automation tools to ensure that they are usable for the target groups.
  • Make the UX for 18-28 year old people particularly usable and attractive
  • Make the UX for frequent travelers very efficient
  • Regularly measure the time-on-task for key tasks in each operating platform. Where needed, suggest improvements

Example of a helpful UX strategy

A bit of context: Alice works as a UX researcher for Gamma Airlines. From field studies, Alice learns that usability defects in Gamma’s booking system are causing people to miss high-margin “flight extras”. This aligns with the current cross-sell/up-sell strategy.

Strategy: Alice proposes a series of studies with representative customers based on her personas to identify and remove specific obstacles to profit here.

For more details and further examples of strategies, read my paper “A UX Stratega – A Fictitious but Realistic Example of a UX Strategy“, 7 pages.

Example of a poor strategy

“Our strategy is collaborative growth

We will lead a customer-focused effort of the market through our use of digital business and internet of things ecosystem to build a cloud-based revolution.

By being both innovative and open, we will drive competitive advantage throughout the organization. Synergies between our data leaders and agile culture will enable us to capture the upside by becoming networked in a big data world.

These transformations coupled with disruptive insight from data due to our digital first platform will create a learning organization through value and efficiency.”

Credit: Sophie Dennis

UX tactics

Definition: The actual UX activities used in a UX strategy to reach a business goal.

Examples of UX tactics: Create personas based on user research; create user requirements and discuss them with stakeholders; create user journey maps and discuss them with stakeholders; create prototypes and usability test them; implement human centered design lifecycle.

UX maturity

Definition: The ability of an organization or a product team to define and meet UX goals that help to achieve business goals.

Note: UX maturity is described in more detail on a separate page, which includes a number of usable UX maturity scales.

UX maturity level

Definition: A number of specific process or organizational characteristics that precisely and usably describe a level of understanding and implementation of a systematic human-centered design process within an organisation or a development team.

Note: The description of each UX maturity level must be so precise and usable that it enables an organization or external, neutral assessors to determine if the organization or a product team has reached this UX maturity level.

UX maturity scale

Definition: A framework that enables organizations to assess the quality and effectiveness of their user research processes and practice.

Notes: Technically speaking, a UX maturity scale is an ordered collection of UX maturity levels that cover the full spectrum of UX maturity levels from lowest to highest UX maturity.

A UX maturity scale helps organizations and product teams understand where they are and what to strive for.

UX maturity scales often have six UX maturity levels.

Example of a UX maturity scale.