Chroma Experience


Increase my company's user experience maturity.

The way interactive products are made has changed dramatically in recent years. Where technology and features used to be the focus of development, it is now the people who are expected to use our products. While some companies struggle to allocate resources to human-centered design, others have long since integrated it into their corporate DNA and are innovating to develop it in line with their business goals. Where a company stands in this development can be found out with so-called maturity models. I would like to briefly describe here which models exist and how systematic processes of human-centered design can be implemented in organizations.

What is a maturity model?

Maturity models have been around for a very long time. They were originally used to assess the quality of processes, organizations and technologies. They help organizations assess how good they are at a particular capability and what practices they need to build that capability.
There are a number of maturity models that can be used to determine the usability & user experience maturity of an organization. Many of these are not freely available, but some are.

What can we learn from this?

A UX maturity model can be used to assess where my company is in the process of human-centered design. This can be compared to the grading scale in school grades. While this knowledge can help point out problems, more importantly, it helps us in the learning process and understanding towards the way we design our products.

How is my company actually doing?

The assessment of an organization's UX maturity level should be based on various evaluation methods. These include observation and questioning about work practices, analysis of processes, employee:s and tools, evaluation of results and surveys of employee:s from across the organization.
Jakob Nielsen designed one of the first UX maturity models in 2006. Since then, this model has been continuously developed and adapted to current developments in product design. This established 6-step model can help organizations analyze and rank their processes.


Level 1: Absent

UX is ignored or absent.

Level 2: Limited

UX work is infrequent, done haphazardly, and has no meaning.

Level 3: Emerging

UX work is functional and promising, but is done inconsistently and inefficiently.

Level 4: Structured

The organization has a semisystematic UX-related methodology that is widely used, but with varying degrees of effectiveness and efficiency.

Level 5: Integrated

UX work is comprehensive, effective, and pervasive.

Level 6: User-Driven.

Commitment to UX at all levels leads to deep insights and exceptional user-centered design outcomes.

Nielsen Norman Group offers a free self-test that can help determine where my company is in the process of human-centered design in just a few minutes: UX Maturity Quiz

My company is still in the early stages. Where do we go from here?

If the process of human-centered design is still at the very beginning in your company, procedural instructions, for example, can help you take a first step. A good introduction to human-centered design can be found in DIN EN ISO 9241-210 (Human-centered design of interactive systems). DIN EN ISO 27500 (The human-centered organization - Purpose and general principles) and DIN EN ISO 27501 (The human-centered organization - Guidance for managers) can provide valuable knowledge and recommendations for action and help to integrate appropriate processes into corporate structures.
However, it is naïve to believe that by publishing a procedural instruction in the company, the understanding and inner attitude for human-centered design can simply be established. Rather, this understanding and the associated processes should be institutionalized step by step. Individual stages in the maturity model cannot simply be skipped, because human-centered design cannot be forced, but must gradually become part of a company's DNA. The step from one stage to the next alone may take several years. This becomes clear when we look at the actors and processes that are elemental to establishing human-centered design:


What about awareness and knowledge of human-centered design? Can the development team independently design products in which positive user experiences are created? Are roles in the team filled by user experience professionals (UX designers, user researchers)?

User & Market Research

Are research methods (qualitative, quantitative, data-based or automated) used to identify requirements, needs and expectations or to evaluate user experiences before and during development, as well as during launch and operation?


Are budgets designed to fund all necessary actions to integrate human-centered design?

Project management

Are business functionality or technical aspects in the foreground and valued more importantly than user experience? Or are all aspects of product development harmonized and needs, expectations, benefits of the clientele and market potential included as relevant evaluation criteria?

Corporate strategy

In successful human-centered companies, the topic of user experience is already anchored at management level and is an integral part of the corporate strategy or corporate goals.

Organization of design

The organization of design, be it experience or interface design, is a central component in human-centered companies. Who defines design rules and how are these consistently adhered to and qualitatively reviewed? Depending on the maturity level, this may be the responsibility of a single person, all the way to internal agencies that assist other teams in designing products. Advanced companies make design decisions iteratively and always with the involvement of users, designers and developers. Their opinions and needs are taken into account through research methods into the final design and beyond.

Requirements management

Requirements are the common working basis for UX professionals and developers. Even the requirements gathering should therefore ideally be based on real needs of the clientele. In many companies, the technical and functional requirements are often weighted higher than the customer experience. Therefore, it is important that user research methods are already known and actively used in requirements engineering (RE) in order to implement the human-centered design process in the earliest project stage.

Software Architecture

Successful human-centered companies consider the needs of their users in architectural decisions from the very beginning. The closer the collaboration and the better the shared understanding of user-centeredness between UX professionals and software architects, the better the user experience will be.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Depending on how a company is set up, the disciplines that collaborate with user experience professionals can vary widely. Working closely with brand management and marketing makes sense to ensure that the company's promise matches the user experience. To gain valuable customer:inside insights, involving experience professionals in sales and customer service can also make a lot of sense.

Help, I need support!

The multitude of aspects for implementing a human-centered design process can seem intimidating at first glance. It's not for nothing that people talk about integrating it into the corporate DNA. For this reason, some consulting firms have addressed this need and provide support in implementing the human-centered design process. Here, maturity models are used to determine needs, make them measurable and build sustainable competence in the company.
Integration into the corporate DNA is a long-term process and may require the establishment of a competent in-house UX team. For acute, self-contained projects, this process may take too long. Nevertheless, the principles of human-centered design should also be applied to these projects in order to successfully survive in the market and avoid bad investments. In these cases, the use of external design teams is worthwhile. Agencies that specialize in human-centered processes ensure that users are involved in all project steps, from requirements engineering to go-to-market.


Increasing the user experience maturity of a company is a complex process. That is precisely why it is important to understand where my company stands in this process. Maturity models can help identify your own strengths and weaknesses, promote them and optimize them as needed. Even if the UX work in your company seems good, there are always things that can be improved. Improving the work of employees, the credibility of the company, and the experience of customers and users is an ongoing process that needs periodic review. So knowing your own maturity level can help systematize your UX work and make it a real part of your company's DNA, so that these practices endure even in the face of major organizational change. Consulting firms and UX agencies can help integrate people into product development, whether in acute projects or in long-term implementation within the company.

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