In a recent question about measuring the embeddedness of UX practices in a company, I suggested the Feijo Maturity Model. How to assess how embedded UX is in an organization or team?

If we assume that this model makes sense, what are some real-world obstacles to moving up the scale?

If you consider this question in the context of your company, or your clients’ companies, what are some obvious (or not so obvious) reasons they don’t score any better than they do? What's holding them back?

The example that seems most obvious to me is the existence of firm boundaries between departments – working in silos – and the resulting inability (or reluctance) of contributors to be part of the truly collaborative solutions.

I think answers to this might provide a useful starting point in defining strategies to build UX culture in an organization or team.

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    @FrankL This isn't a "discussion" board, it's for Q&A, and I think this is a reasonable question to ask here. Your comment inspired me to edit the question so it's even more clear, though I disagree that the question is too broad. What are the barriers to developing a UX culture? This also isn't just a question about how to solve my specific problem, but is set up so answers can benefit future readers who are seeking to develop a UX strategy. You say one could write a book about it, but I'm not after a novel, I'll take your best three examples, or if you are particularly busy, your best one.
    – dennislees
    Dec 18, 2015 at 20:38
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    And between us we can come up with a high level bullet list that captures the essence of the issues? I can't get my head around this site sometimes. Ask a question about why a traffic light is green and you'll have a thousand views and a dozen answers, but ask a question about the more complicated realities of actually working in the field of UX and you hear the crickets chirping. Essentially what I take from this is that people either don't have the experience to answer, or just cant be bothered.
    – dennislees
    Dec 19, 2015 at 0:24
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    Also, the question specifically asks about obstacles in "your" company, not all companies. How can asking individuals about problems they have experienced directly be considered too broad?
    – dennislees
    Dec 19, 2015 at 0:31
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    @JeromeR That's fair enough, though I tend to disagree with a lot of the rules for this site. This question is a good example of what I mean. There's is undeniable value here. The answers provide a good thinking tool within the context of the question (i.e. a starting point for developing strategy) but the first and second comments were about how inappropriate the question is. Sometimes value comes in a format that doesn't fit neatly into boxes.
    – dennislees
    Dec 20, 2015 at 17:44
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    @dennislee I completely agree. The rules are guidelines intended to stop the whole thing from descending into a flame war. But the effect of the rules may be that we focus on nonparticipants with 1 reputation point who ask newbie questions about implementation instead of focusing on questions from community members with thousands of points that require thought and discussion and sharing of data—or at least anecdotal experiences—instead of mere opinions. But since there was some "close this question" noise, I figured I'd point out more ways for you to "improve" the question.
    – JeromeR
    Dec 21, 2015 at 8:38

6 Answers 6


Okay just a bullet point list, without further explanation.

Usability and UX is teamwork, so it needs the whole chain in product development to be engaged:


  • No time, no budget, no priority
  • Different roles in design and development have different objectives and goals
  • Timing is too tight - Upper management prioritizes 'time to market'
  • Software projects run long, so benefits involving UUX show years later
  • Attitude that products will mature after shipment
  • Return of Investment for UUX efforts arent clear and hard to capture. Literature is outdated

Buy In

  • No dedicated stakeholder for UUX in projects or products
  • Too many stakeholders in complex projects - UUX stakeholder is the one too many
  • Lack of knowledge and shared definition of UUX


  • No clear goal setting in the beginning
  • Full packed software roadmap (features) for next releases, no ressources for UUX findings of actual release
  • UUX is difficult to operationalize, therefore not fixed in contracts with clear goals
  • No UUX in contracts, so if time runs short, it gets cut
  • Unclear time scope for UUX improvement phase, findings differ extremely
  • No time in project plan for improve findings after testing


  • No established infrastructure for UUX
  • No established process for UUX, set up for every project takes time
  • Lack of methods for UCD (or other BUZZes)
  • Half-knowledge-based UUX methods and no need for experts
  • Lack of shared language for UUX (especially if agencies are involved)
  • UUX is mainly qualitative and therefore opinions-driven (see knowledge and language)


  • No established criterias for evaluate UUX (I recommend ISO 9241-10 and -110)
  • No easy way to repair/recode a usability defect such as defect button

Experience I collected while (still trying to) establishing UUX in a big cooperation.

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    This is a fantastic answer. Thanks. I did a little editing and attempted some approximate categorization.
    – dennislees
    Dec 19, 2015 at 20:58
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    Looks good now. I added ROI of Usability and put the roadmap issue back
    – FrankL
    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:48
  • Could you supplement your (combined) list(s) with references to specific experiences at your own company or client companies?
    – JeromeR
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:30
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    @JeromeR Sorry, no. That would be the former mentioned book, one can write about barriers. All points did I experience last two years.
    – FrankL
    Dec 20, 2015 at 17:44
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    @JeromeR While that would be a nice addition, and would be more in line with the rules of the site, it's not necessary here. The point is to create a thinking framework that can be applied to different situations, and while the additional context provided by examples would be interesting to hear (for those points where that would actually add anything), requiring their addition only adds to the work required, and therefore makes it less likely that answerers will contribute.
    – dennislees
    Dec 20, 2015 at 17:44

It always boils down to one thing:


I don't mean that as a slam against orgs lacking UX maturity. It's just the reality of where many markets are right now.

The business has to understand the importance of design* in key decision-making functions:

  • Strategy
  • Innovation
  • Optimization
  • Operations
  • Market differentiation

Those areas have primarily been monopolized by MBAs and finance leaders. Their training is business-centric, rather than user-centric. It's hard for them to understand the profitability of soft skills like psychology and design.

UX maturity will advance when an org understands, at every level, that design is part of the beginning — not the service organization that puts the "finishing touch" on a project.

Enterprise software (where I spend most of my time) is a great case study. It has been severely UX poor up until the last 2 years, at which point it began to undergo rapid transformation. That happened almost entirely due to outside pressure from consumer software — user's simply demanded more. Organizations were forced, very much against their will, to start investing in design (and higher level software engineering). They have done it to stay viable, but the result has been, in my experience, more efficient and sustainable product development.

* I say "design" because I believe it is a less transient label than "UX". It all boils down to design thinking, whatever the specific role at hand may be.

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    If you say Ignorance is the problem, I would say this is bigheaded. UX isnt the only "important" field, that wants a seat at the top table. Data-security, business technology, data mining, DevOps etc are important for success as well. Actually we are in a competition for awareness. For us it is cristal clear to have a stake in product development, but others need to be convinced
    – FrankL
    Dec 20, 2015 at 8:41
  • @FrankL I have no delusions about UX being the only business concern, but it is a critical and frequently ignored one. I would venture a guess that there are more CTOs and CIOs in the world's businesses than CDOs or CXOs. Even if you don't want to create a C-level position for design/experience, there needs to be a senior-level adviser involved at the earliest stages. Dec 20, 2015 at 9:13
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    Sure, I also see the need. But how to convince the top board? Actually there isnt any literature or documentation about the ROI. There are only Case Studies, in the same industry if you are lucky, but usually not. Otherwise your arguments are vapid.
    – FrankL
    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:39
  • I think, in B2C the pressure has increased because of the cloud, lower costs and different buyer structures. Small workers can now purchase a license per year under i.e. 20euros. So, no central IT-buyer is involved. A worker and user will prefer an easy to use software....What do ypu think, is this right? Or any other factors involved?
    – FrankL
    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:44
  • @FrankL Regarding your question "How do I influence the top board?" there are some books that help address this. I read the first edition of "Institutionalization of UX: A Step-by-Step Guide to a User Experience Practice" (now in 2nd Edition), which outlined a possible approach and presented ways to assess the maturity of your own organisation.
    – JeromeR
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:27

Client apathy
If your clients aren't interested in the user experience, you'll gain no traction. This is often the case in a large enterprise, where it's not uncommon to hear something along the lines of "We have a deadline to meet so just put the billing screens out there, the data entry clerks will figure them out."

Client resistance to change
If your clients are used to "click here, type the name, tab 3 times, type the phone number, hit space 7 times, type the postal code", any screen changes that might reduce the wasted 'tabbing' or 'spacing', or do an automated lookup by typing the phone number first, are going to disrupt them. Change makes people uncomfortable, especially when the replacement screen trips them up - it makes them feel bad to make mistakes at a job they used to be proficient at.

Burned and burned again
Every executive has been burned by promises that some new IT thing would deliver value. They've spent a fortune on shelfware. They pay for updates that make things worse. They have all experienced upgrade pains in the form of "when I upgraded my iPhone to a new version of iOS, my old iPhone was too slow and needed to be replaced to run all those fancy graphics." Whether or not they were your fault is immaterial - they just downloaded a new version of Windows 8 and know that change doesn't mean better. Making empty promises that "a UX culture will make our stuff better" will ring hollow in their ears.

If the stakeholders are not clamoring for change, top management will have no incentive to embrace the UX culture. So that suggests one possible place to start.

Bring in the stakeholders to your experiment, but don't emphasize it's a UX effort. Call it a "time and motion study". Invite the supervisor of the billing area to participate in a usability lab to test new billing application screens. Show how quickly a new hire picks up the system with the improved screens. Show how much more productive a worker can be if they convert to the new system. Compare to a new hire testing the old screens, and an experienced data entry clerk entering data in the old screens. If the stakeholders run the stopwatches themselves, and if they can see actual productivity gains from the new UI, their next question will be "how fast can you deliver this?" That's your light turning from red to green.

Once your stakeholders and executives realize actual value from investing in a well designed UX, that's the time to introduce the roadmap to creating a UX culture. Show them how other areas of the company can benefit from usability studies. Meet with other teams, see if you can sell them on the value by helping them run through a UX lab. Once you make UX a desirable attribute for every product, you'll know you have created a UX culture.

  • Could you supplement your opinion with references to specific experiences at your own company or client companies? Also, could you please edit your answer to flesh it out?
    – JeromeR
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:29

UX is one of those things you don't appreciate unless you don't have it.

Investment in UX does not seem to correlate with more sales of a product,or customer retention.

Sure,good UX is very nice to have-but will you keep using something because it's extremely intuitive or because its feature rich?

Most companies are satisfied with the most basic UX their DESIGNERS and PROGRAMMERS came up with.. Unless its extremely unintuitive and confusing,most companies don't give a damn-and therfor we can explain the scarcity of much needed UX experts in this field.

the investment in UX is not as noticeable at the start, but clearly matters in the end but that is very much ignored in todays market,and we can all see that.

  • Could you supplement your opinion with references to specific experiences at your own company or client companies? Also, could you please edit your answer to flesh it out?
    – JeromeR
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:29
  • these are my experiences with clients that do not want to invest in a professional UX expert because they say their current user experience is "fine". i cant add much more detail to my answer. i have not worked with very big companies beforehand so i can not tell you if the numbers change in a bigger sperctrum since i suspect a company like apple invests heavily in UX and that its working from what i can see. i think what i meant to say is that the investment in UX is not as noticeable at the start, but clearly matters in the end but that is very much ignored in todays market Dec 20, 2015 at 14:46
  • That's good to know. Why don't you edit your answer to add this information—so people can vote it up? A more complete answer gets more up-votes.
    – JeromeR
    Dec 20, 2015 at 17:18

I feel like there could be a barrier in how the org is set up initially. For me UX should be considered in all decisions regarding product but most companies validate a new product or features strictly through product managers or c-suite. UX isn't valued at that point even though it should really be driving the product. We're treated as passengers not drivers.

How do you change this or get buy in?....don't know. I'm trying to establish a UCD driven culture at my new company. Haven't had too much pushback except in the previous situation where UX team isn't considered in top down decisions.

I have actually had experience with pushback in even reaching out to customers, trying to do user testing, contextual interviews etc. They assume that that knowledge isn't worth pursuing for you because they 'already know the customers'.


This is great. I would also add another one that is a bit polemic but felt in some companies by female UX Designers so, important to mention.

Gender and Racial Bias

What suggestions of how to be seen as a leader to introduce UX to a team?

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