UX and Business Analysis: How to combine them effectively

How to use role-based project scopes and clearly defined responsibilities to prevent conflict during app development.​

User Experience (UX) designers and Business Analysts (BAs) have roles that are much more similar than they may appear at first glance. Both are responsible for delivering apps that meet business goals and user expectations. Still, UX designers and BAs are often at odds with each other over how an app should be designed and built. Oftentimes, this is due to a lack of clearly defined project scope and responsibilities. Explore with us how to create an app development strategy that aligns the goals of BAs and UX designers to eliminate conflicts during the app development process.

Business Analyst

The BA is responsible for understanding what an app needs to do to fill business needs and resolve business problems. In some cases, the BA may also be in charge of product management, meaning that the BA is responsible for sharing the vision for the app and its value with stakeholders, c-suite executives, and employees within the organization. As product manager, the BA also performs market research and manages project collaboration. In other words, the BA has a lot to do!

The BA's primary responsibilities:

  • Own the product (if not already owned by Product Manager)
  • Understand the app domain and users
  • Set app requirements
  • Define what the app needs to do
  • Create user-facing UIs
  • Identify user stories (overlaps with UX design)
  • Design UI layout

What the BA should not be responsible for:

  • Building wireframes, comps, and prototypes
  • Doing user testing

The ultimate goal of the BA is to deliver an app that meets business and user needs on time and within budget. The BA should not be concerned with the design of the app, only with defining its requirements, taking care of UI, and managing the development process.

UX Designer

The UX designer is responsible for how apps look and feel. The UX designer's focus is on the quality of the experience the app user has, asking questions like, what makes this app a pleasure to use?

The UX designer's primary responsibilities:

  • Building wireframes, comps, and prototypes
  • Developing information architecture
  • Creating interaction design
  • Designing information display
  • Deciding on content strategy
  • Managing overall look and feel
  • Doing user testing

UX designers are most concerned with how users will actually use the app, how it will look, and how easy it is to use. They interview end users to develop an understanding of how they already use technology and what they expect from the app. During user testing, UX designers interview and observe users to learn how they use the app and where the user gets lost, confused, or frustrated. This information helps the UX designer make changes to the app that improve its usability.

Bringing the BA and the UX Designer Together

BAs and UX designers may think they have completely unrelated roles, but that's a misperception. There is a substantial amount of overlap in what BAs and UX designers do. A key way to prevent sparks from flying during app development is to provide both your BA and UX designer with clearly defined roles in the project. A clear chain of command must be established to prevent problems during project development. 

If your BA is also the Product Manager, that person should have ownership over the project, with the UX designer answering to the BA. 

Break down the app development process and where there is overlap, help the BA and UX designer work out who will be responsible for what and commit to those tasks. This will save conflicts down the road and streamline the development process.

The biggest challenges may occur when working out what the app should do and how the app should do it. This is where having clearly defined roles and responsibilities will help tremendously.

Even so, there will likely be conflicts. 

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How to Get BAs and UX Designers to Work Together

When conflict occurs, a sword fight in full armor might be suggested to resolve it, but that's a bit over-the-top. Instead, it may be best to remind the BA that she is responsible for what the app needs to do, not the color of the splash screen.

Likewise, it is best to remind the UX designer that he really needs to follow the chain of command and discuss any changes or additions with the BA before adding them.

When a conflict simply cannot be resolved, let user testing determine the best answer. Use informal testing, formal testing, and A/B testing to see what users prefer.

In the end, whatever works best should be what's included in the end product.

Cultivate Understanding Between BAs and UX Designers

It may be helpful to help the BA take time to fully understand the role of the UX designer and vice versa. If each of them really understands what the other's job actually entails, they may come to see each other with mutual respect.This may require the UX designer observing what the BA has to do to 'fix' a feature the UX designer added without first obtaining authorization. Likewise, it may be helpful for the BA to see what the UX designer has to go through when the BA decides to create a wireframe herself.

Once she sees how much extra work it created for the UX designer, the BA may agree that it is better for the UX designer to create the wireframes.

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The Holistic Nature of UX

While the BA is looking at delivering functionality and value, the UX designer is looking at meeting the user's needs.

This goes far beyond UI layout and using corporate colors in the app's color scheme; it also includes things like user journeys, how content is worded, icon design, and a thousand other details that, when combined, make for an app that is easy to learn and use.

What It All Means

At the end of the day, the best apps will be those produced through close collaboration between the BA and the UX designer. This means taking the time to get both the BA and the UX designer on the same page with shared goals and clearly defined project scopes.

They will be happier, and you will, too!