David Ribes

Winter 2019

Developing UX maturity in the corporate world

This DRG is for students who are interested in how academic research and real-world business do (and don’t) mix. 

UX consulting is a booming business. However, the lack of systematic research on how technology companies learn to adopt UX practices can leave corporate stakeholders skeptical of whether investing in UX is worth it. This DRG provides students with a unique opportunity to work directly with a real-world software company, while also helping to build a body of scientific research on how UX maturity develops in corporate settings. 

As a member of the HCDE Corporate Affiliates Program, nFocus Solutions has offered to serve as a research partner for this DRG, focused on understanding how a medium-sized technology company with a legacy enterprise system works to advance itself through the stages of UX maturity. nFocus Solutions is a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider of datamanagement, outcome measurement and performance management software to the public sector. They serve a wide range of clients across the public sector, ranging from single nonprofits serving 30 children a day, to entire communities working to improve high school graduation rates, to first responders performing search and rescue missions, to the United States Army. 

The quarter will culminate in a presentation to nFocus Solutions.


This DRG will meet from 4 -5:30 p.m. on Thursdays in Fall 2018 (2 credits) and will be led by David McDonald (HCDE), David Ribes (HCDE), and Emily S Lin (nFocus Solutions).

Students will begin the quarter getting oriented to relevant research literature, as well learning about nFocus Solutions and their clients. Over the course of the quarter, students will identify a research contribution they’d like to make (e.g., developing a survey instrument, testing a feedback mechanism), then do field work with nFocus employees to refine their methodology. The final deliverable will be a presentation to nFocus stakeholders.

Recommended Background

This DRG is most suitable for students of all levels (BA, MS, PhD) with an interest in both the research and business sides of user-centered design. Students with a background in organizational studies, social psychology, psychometrics, and/or ethnography are encouraged to apply. We also welcome students experienced with database technologies and/or social service or public sector end-users.

How to Apply

Please submit your current resume/CV and a short statement (2 paragraphs max) explaining why you are interested in this DRG to:

Emily S Lin,, and David McDonald,

Dr. Ribes' Research Group archive