UX strategy: assessing the risk of UX strategy plans

Type of Thesis: 
Master Thesis

User experience (UX) strategy is a user-driven approach which helps organizations to achieve their business goals by improving both the UX of products and the way UX-related activities are undertaken while those products are being developed [2]. This amounts to saying that the return on investment (ROI) of UX strategy is composed of both an external ROI (i.e. benefits attributed to UX that occur after product fielding) and an internal ROI (i.e. benefits attributed to the UX team that occur during the development) [1].

Whereas cumulative science (e.g. UX constructs, UX metrics, UX design, UX evaluation methods and procedures) has been developed to increase the former, the available scientific literature about the latter is disseminated and inconsistent [3][5][6]. The application of theoretical UX maturity models is made complicated by the lack of empirical research and documentation, while experience-based recommendations for the successful implementation of UX strategy are provided through workshops and trainings.

However, recent advances in this research area propose a simplified 3-level UX maturity model (see Table below) and a companion questionnaire for the assessment of the commitment of organizations to UX [4][7]. The STRATUS model and questionnaire enable the quick and cost-effective assessment of UX strategy in IT organizations by simply checking their UX maturity level in several constructs such as UX awareness, UX expertise, UX resources, attitude towards UX, etc.

UX maturity level




UX of products




UX team efficiency

UX unrecognized

UX not considered

Limited UX resources

UX underestimated

Discount UX

UX resources allocated to a few projects

UX fully understood

Continuous and integrated UX

UX resources allocated to any ongoing project

UX strategy

None or amateur

Reactive or scattered

In place or optimized

Organization type




The goal of this thesis is to provide IT organizations with clear, structured and realistic recommendations to move from amateur to optimized UX strategy. The research questions are: How to estimate the overall UX maturity of a given organization? How to structure a UX strategy plan and assess its related risk? How to make executives “buy” such plan?

Initially, related concepts will be studied and related works (UX maturity models, STRATUS, risk assessment) will be reviewed. Then, a framework for UX strategy recommendations and risk assessment will be developed. Finally, a tool for UX strategy assessment, UX recommendations and risk assessment will be designed and developed.



[1] Bias, R.G. and Mayhew, D.J. Cost-Justifying Usability, Second Edition: An Update for the Internet Age, Second Edition (Interactive Technologies). Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc., San Francisco, USA, 2005.

[2] Bloomer, S., Croft, R., and Kieboom, H. Strategic usability: introducing usability into organisations. In CHI’97 Tutorial Notes (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, March 22-27, 1997).

[3] Earthy, J. Usability Maturity Model: Human Centredness Scale. IE 2016 INUSE, Deliverable D5.1.4(s), version 1.2, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping: London1998.

[4] Kieffer, S. and Vanderdonckt, J. STRATUS: a Questionnaire for Strategic Usability Assessment. In Proc. SAC’16 (Pisa, April 4-8, 2016).

[5] Nielsen, J. Corporate UX Maturity Stages: 1–4 and Corporate UX Maturity Stages: 5–8, 2006. Web. <http://www.nngroup.com/articles/>

[6] Schaffer, E. Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-By-Step Guide.Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2004.

[7] STRATUS questionnaire: <http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2772433/Stratus-VUB>


Contact: Suzanne Kieffer (suzanne.kieffer@uclouvain.be)


Background Knowledge: 
  • Good programming skills
  • Knowledge about UX/usability
  • Software Process Improvement (SPI) is a plus but is not mandatory
Technical challenges: 
  • To define an approach to set-up UX strategy plans that are both solid and realistic
  • To combine survey research, modeling and advanced 2D visualization
  • To deliver a good UX
Academic Year: