Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Improve UX Maturity

UX strategy is about "the big picture.

Being customer-centric is the strategic goal for many forward-looking organizations, UX/CX (User/Customer Experience) plays more significant role today. However, many of business leaders still do not understand the strategic impact and brand effect it can bring to the organization’s long term success. Hence, UX professionals (strategist, designers, architect, etc) have had to take the time to explain and demonstrate the value that UX can bring, and the true potential of the practice. There are misunderstandings everywhere about what UX is. In your organization, is UX a mindset and a discipline, or just a few pixels moving around? And how to improve UX maturity?

Thankful to be part of an organization where UX is well understood by leadership. That's been the biggest challenge over time; demonstrating that you can bring fresh insights, and see the customer problem through UX filter when others have already talked with dozens or even hundreds of customers. Customer Experience covers the entire experience of the customer. Customers often share different (and sometimes more actionable) data points with people who are there to listen to them, not to make a sale or fix a specific issue. Strike the word "talk" from the vocabulary and replace it with "listen" when selling the idea of these customer visits to leadership. UX must be understood by executives to support an evolving product strategy, and to drive its success forward ambitiously.

UX is a component of digital strategy: UX strategy is about "the big picture." You want your user experiences to support organizational strategy. How will you react if organizational strategy shifts? After all, strategy is about predicting the future. You're not thinking of the "UX" that's only about wireframes and visual designs. You're thinking about brand, positioning, and environment, but from the standpoint of rigorous user understanding. The strategic objective is to understand what your customers need and to help the business orient itself towards those needs in pursuit of its objectives. In an industrial segment, many businesses are still behind, but are slowly moving in the right direction to think UX as key component of digital strategy.

The convergence of UX & CX, in lieu of UX design: There are much more talk about how business digitalization plays a role at many different aspects and touch points of CX, and there are more UX professionals moving beyond the perceived confines of their "traditional" practice areas and points of focus. Partnering with practitioners from of other domains (like CX) to extend and hone the design tools to better address the challenges (business, social, political, etc) that people face in their everyday lives in more meaningful and fundamental ways, to accelerate digital flow and enhance digital coherence. User Experience professionals are in service to some sort of industry or enterprise, and the goals must relate to the goals of the business you work in. There is no measurement of "design" that matters except that it includes a measurement of the action of the user in relationship to business goals. And more direct problem with measuring UX and design in general, is the underlying effect of the quality of the project brief. The quality of the outcome is inseparable from the influences of the stakeholder directives and the values behind product acceptance. Stakeholders may decide they actually want to measure usability, learnability, conversion, trustworthiness, etc.

As a general rule of thumb, when using “UX” in a sentence, if you want it to mean, or could replace it with “Pretty pictures” - and be happy with the definition, then you're not going to get the full benefit of what true UX can bring. Eventually UX will have a clear position in every organization and company. No one will question its existence and it will be a natural part of strategy in customer-centric organizations.


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