UX strategy and UX maturity

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

A UX team should always strive to meet their organization’s business goals and business strategy. The UX strategy describes how the UX team plans to do this.

UX maturity describes an organization’s or a product team’s capability to meet business goals that are related to usability or user experience. A UX maturity model is a framework that enables organizations to assess the quality and effectiveness of their user research processes and practice. A UX maturity model helps organizations and product teams understand where they are and what to strive for.

On separate pages, I offer advice regarding the Benefits of increased UX maturity, Increasing the UX maturity of your organization and UX maturity models. For a more humorous twist on UX maturity, see Objections to UX – and rebuttals.

Overview of this page

Business goal

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

Note: Businesses outline their goals in their business strategies. Goals might pertain to the company 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 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 company’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 the paper “A UX Stratega – A Fictitious but Realistic Example of a UX Strategy” by Rolf Molich, 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 means used to gain an objective.

Examples of UX tactics: Create personas; create user journey maps; implement HCD-lifecycle; run usability tests.

UX maturity

Definition: The level of understanding and implementation of a systematic human-centered design process within an organisation or a development team.

More about UX maturity including several usable UX maturity models.

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.

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 model

Definition: An ordered collection of UX maturity levels that cover the full spectrum of UX maturity levels from lowest to highest UX maturity. UX maturity models often have six UX maturity levels.

Examples of UX maturity models.


Management’s true commitment to usability and user experience is important for a high UX maturity. Many managers will say that they are committed to usability. However, there is a tremendous difference between paying lip service to commitment and true commitment. The following quote puts it very nicely:

Commitment is not doing what you want to do.  … 
Commitment is doing what you don’t want to do – because it is difficult, expensive, or inconvenient. In fact, the more you don’t want to do something, but continue doing it because you believe it to be the right thing to do, the more you are committed to it.
— Phillip G. Armour