What You Can Learn by Studying Design Maturity Models

I recently worked on a project that involved assessing a corporation’s design system. As a part of that research, my team came across the idea of a design maturity model in a study published by Invision.

This model helps assess how well design is being applied in an organization. Since we often receive feedback about the value our clients perceive in our design work, we thought it would be valuable to consider how design can become a more integrated part of an organization.

Before I came across this study, a few other maturity models (see below) had crossed my path. However, they paled in comparison to the detail and relevance of Invision’s study.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Invision is a design company that offers numerous services, some of which we use at Atomic. They have been providing content around design over the past few years via their Design Better brand.

For this particular study, Leah Buley and her team researched over 2,200 companies throughout 77 countries. They divided those companies into five levels of design maturity and discussed what the different levels mean and what it takes for an organization to level up. They also described what benefits the organization is likely to realize with an investment to reach a new level. (Beyond the content of the study, the report is also beautifully designed and easy to read.)

One of the most surprising outcomes was how small many of the top-tier companies were. The top 4- and 5-Level companies only had an average of 13-15 designers on staff–fewer than companies at Level 3!–even though they are likely taking on a more diverse set of problems.

Overall, it appears that companies who are successful at bringing design into their organization are better able to leverage design throughout their initiatives, not just through building their product. Level 5 companies have seen impacts on their organizations in the following ways:

  • Product usability (100% of Level 5 companies)
  • Customer satisfaction (99%)
  • Revenue (92%)
  • Project-specific metrics(85%)
  • Cost savings (85%)
  • Time to market(84%)

It seems clear from this survey that further integrating design into your organization and striving for top-tier design maturity offers some tangible benefits for an organization.

After reading the report, I needed to know more. I came across a webinar featuring the creator of the study, which offered a bit more insight into their methods.

Here is some of the more helpful related content:

How does your company’s design system function? Share some insights/findings below!