UX Design can have a positive impact on various areas of a company. By focusing on user-centered products, the company can increase its value and have good financial prospects, for example. In other words, the benefits of UX go beyond just design.
However, the view of UX Design as a strategic area is still not common among many companies.
This article will explain more about the 5 different levels of design maturity in companies. That is, the 5 stages that companies go through to perfect and integrate the area into all their operations, and the benefits that come from this integration.
Additionally, we will explain the role of UX/UI designers in advocating for their profession, encouraging and motivating companies to develop UX expertise, and increasing design presence in their operations.
UX/UI Design is booming
UX Design is becoming increasingly popular, and its growth is quite evident. In fact, according to a study by NN/g, it is projected that there will be around 100 million UX professionals worldwide by 2050.
Even amidst the public health crisis caused by the pandemic in 2020, the outlook for the UX Design market could not be better.
Due to the pandemic, companies have had to digitize their products by developing apps, software, and websites. As a consequence, the demand for professionals in this field has increased, and the market has come to appreciate the significance of UX Design in their overall strategy.
Reading tip: UX Design and Product Design: Find Out the Difference
What are the impacts of UX Design on companies?
The more a company understands the importance of UX Design for its operations and integrates professionals in the field into its team, the sooner it will reap benefits such as:
- Higher user satisfaction;
- Better usability of products;
- Increased profits;
- Greater cost savings;
- Reduced time-to-market (the time between product analysis and availability to the market).
When companies establish appropriate working conditions and workspace for designers, they begin to better understand their users. As a result, they start to explore new possibilities for experimentation in their products or services.
The research The New Design Frontier by InVision, conducted with more than 2,200 designers from around the world, identified the areas where a company's design team has the greatest positive impacts:
- Product quality;
- Operational efficiency;
In addition, a major benefit is having access to new information through various tests and user research. Collecting this type of data and information can support more precise decision-making.
5 levels of UX Design maturity
According to The New Design Frontier there are 5 levels of maturity related to design practices in companies.
The study evaluated the responses of various companies and created maturity levels based on the perception of the importance of UX Design.
This way, companies at Level 1 have less perception of the impacts of UX Design on their business, while those at Level 5 have a greater perception.
In all evaluated factors – Revenue, Cost Reduction, Time-to-market and Valuation – the impact perceived by Level 5 companies was much higher than that of Level 1 companies. Regarding valuation, the difference was 26 times!
With this, InVision classified each of the company levels as:
- Producers (Level 1);
- Scientists (Level 2);
- Architects (Level 3);
- Connectors (Level 4);
- Visionaries (Level 5).
Level 1: Producers
Companies at this level are still more focused on the visual aspect of UI/UX Design. At this stage, they make their first attempts to show efficiency and create consistent stories through visual guidelines.
However, they end up neglecting processes, tools, and collaboration among professionals and teams. This lack of attention ends up generating a disconnect between what Designers project and what developers create.
To level up and become more mature in UX, they must:
- Incorporate user research and data gathering of the product or service;
- Increase collaboration among teams.
This way, they come to understand that Design is more than just a pretty screen.
Reading tip: Design System: How To Create One?
Level 2: Connectors
In Level 2 companies, UI/UX Design teams are able to develop more integrated and collaborative processes with other areas.
In addition, necessary processes become more common, such as:
- User research;
- Usability testing;
- Personas development;
- Integration of Design and programming tools.
To become more mature, companies at this stage should:
- Deepen their understanding of system design;
- Hire professionals for roles associated with a systematic approach (designers, engineers, product managers).
The more emphasis these companies place on Design as an integrated part of their business, the more essential it becomes to focus on the necessary tools for project execution.
Level 3: Architects
Level 3 companies typically formalize UI/UX Design as a scalable function. They go beyond basic processes and have greater clarity of roles, joint responsibility, and increased documentation of their Design practices.
At this stage, companies have larger UI/UX teams, as they are more focused on operational mechanisms. However, despite the large number of professionals in the field, companies often cannot evaluate the efficiency and quality of the work done.
To reach Level 4, they still need to strengthen their experimentation practices and create routines involving:
- Development of hypotheses;
- Conducting usability tests;
- Measuring results obtained.
Level 4: Scientists
At this stage, companies are highly developed in data-driven UI/UX design. They have sophisticated analysis practices, conduct more experiments, recruit for user research, and monitor project success metrics.
Moreover, these companies are starting to work with design strategy in practice, participating in some market research. Their teams are more independent and use data-driven approaches, integrating ideas, experiments, and analyses.
To support all these actions, design operations are fully formalized. In addition, executives evangelize the area, declaring its importance and monitoring its impact on the company.
What companies in Level 4 lack to move up to Level 5 is to transform design into their business strategy. They already have the team and all the necessary operations and tools. Now, they just need to apply what they have to new business challenges.
Reading tip: Typography in UI: How To Enhance User Experience
Level 5: Visionaries
Level 5 companies are those that apply UI/UX practices across all their areas. As a result, they have achieved maturity in all dimensions.
However, what really sets them apart from the rest is the involvement of design in their business strategies, through:
- Exploratory user research techniques;
- Market forecasting research;
- Delivery of unified actions across platforms and teams.
As a result of these efforts, Level 5 companies feel a greater impact of design in their operations.
Benefits perceived by level 5 companies:
- User satisfaction through improved product usability;
- Increased profitability;
- Cost reduction;
- Specific metrics for each project, such as conversion and funnel;
- Increased team productivity;
- Entry into new markets;
- Design patents.
These benefits are strong points to help you advocate for UX Design within your company!
Large companies often face more challenges than small to medium-sized businesses when it comes to reaching Level 5 maturity in Design, precisely due to their high complexity and scale.
Therefore, they need to carefully consider how to integrate UI/UX into their businesses, focusing on:
To achieve success in UI/UX design, large companies need to have a clear strategy that aligns with their business goals and objectives. This strategy should involve cross-functional collaboration between different teams, such as marketing, engineering, and design, to ensure that all aspects of the user experience are taken into consideration.
How to identify UX Design maturity in a company?
Despite the expansion of the area, many companies still believe that occasionally conducting usability tests means applying UI/UX practices. In these cases, it is clear that the company has little UX Design maturity.
People who work in these companies usually cannot pinpoint the differences between Interface Design, Strategy Design, and Interaction Design.
In companies with low UX maturity, professionals in the field are often excluded from product meetings. Their knowledge and skills are not considered relevant to the development of the final product or service.
Another sign of a company in this scenario is the lack of field studies to understand user pain points.
On the other hand, companies with solid UX Design conduct several field research before and throughout a project.
It is important to emphasize that a large team does not necessarily mean greater Design maturity. What matters is the quality of the work executed and the integration with other areas of the company, not the number of people executing this work.
5 factors that show a lack of maturity in UX
- Hostility towards the user: the sole objective is to develop profitable apps, without caring much about who will use that product;
- Developer-centric experience (not user-centric): the design team relies on their own intuition to define what is good usability. The company does not develop a process to track and monitor the quality of the user experience in projects and does not follow up on quality through quantitative and usability metrics to define future projects;
- User-unguided corporation: the company may even use some usability methods, but they do not understand UX Design as a corporate strategy that affects activities beyond usability;
- Lack of official recognition: there is no official recognition of UI/UX as an area of the company, nor an official group of professionals in the area, led by a UX manager;
- Lack of budget for UX Design: there is no budget for the area. This means a lack of specialized professionals, user research, and specific tools.
Reading tip: Nielsen’s Heuristics: 10 Usability Principles To Improve UI Design
The importance of spreading the word about UX
Despite the various benefits that UI/UX Design brings, many companies still do not understand the relevance of the area and how it impacts all of their operations. In these cases, it is up to UI/UX professionals to explain the importance of their area and show how their operations add value to the company's business.
In addition to the benefits already listed for companies that incorporate Design into their operations, here are some tips for evangelizing UX:
- Talking more about design methodologies: Design Thinking, Agile, Design Sprint are popular terms in the digital market. It's an interesting idea to take advantage of this interest to increase your company's perception about the various results of Design;
- Showing in detail the entire process involved in the project: one of the first things that those who enter UI/UX learn is the importance of a detailed portfolio. Bringing this into the company, showing everything a project involves (Benchmarking, wireframe development, usability testing, typography) can help show how UI/UX is more than just an aesthetic issue;
- Identifying products with potential for redesign or new projects proactively: understand what your company's pain points are and suggest a solution to one of these problems. Take advantage of these opportunities to show how UX/UI can help improve the company's operations in various areas.
Challenges of UX Design for the future
In a talk at the UX Conference in February 2019, Jakob Nielsen spoke about the 10 UX challenges for the coming years.
The 5th challenge mentioned by Nielsen was precisely about the correct use of UX methodology.
According to the scientist, many usability errors keep being committed. For him, this happens because many companies, even those specialized in UX Design, do not follow the best practices of the field.
Another challenge mentioned by Nielsen is to advocate on behalf of the UX methodology. The scientist emphasizes again the importance of companies understanding and accepting the methodology and its best practices.
Watch Jakob Nielsen's full talk:
While many companies are familiar with UX Design, some fail to give it the attention it deserves.
This is why designers need to educate their employers on the significance of UX/UI and how it can strengthen their relationship with customers.
It's also important to promote understanding of the various roles and functions involved, along with the benefits and impacts of design.