Solve your Rubik’s Cube Challenge!

Ever played with a Rubik’s Cube?

Surely the memories of struggling to match each color to their relative faces streaks across your mind…
Maybe a few seconds, minutes, or hours pass; the challenge persists until you win the game!

Dominating the modern era of Business Analysis in 2021, the demand for frictionless User Experience (UX) has generated avid attention in the recent past. With the surge of online engagements over in-person interactions, the need for businesses to maintain a competitive edge in UX is of paramount importance. A business analyst’s role in bridging the gap by understanding customer/ stakeholder needs to match product expectations, in reality, has become an arduous Rubik’s Cube challenge to solve.

Overall, the focus of Business Analysis has shifted towards pursuing the needs and experience of the end-user where business objectives are now re-aligned to be more customer-centric. Failing to complement new business trends with rapidly changing demands could have an adverse impact on product usability, customer retention, and organizational profits.

Fear no more! Using a few UI/UX tactics in ‘Design Thinking’ up your sleeve will swiftly unlock your potential to tackle even the toughest of business problems!

DESIGN THINKING

Analyzing end-user experiences when defining requirements during Design Thinking phases are crucial.

This can be fulfilled by incorporating 8 simple UI/UX techniques and practices into your daily work routine. The integration of these concepts into interaction points during development will immensely enrich the vital components of your product’s user journey.

STEP 1 – EMPATHIZE

1. Use Visual Representations for Effective Communication

 “Put yourself in my shoes” is a statement commonly used to empathize with one’s perspective, opinion, or point of view. Effective communication with customers/stakeholders plays a crucial role when immersing yourself in their context to identify basic needs. A plain sketch or a rough diagram to support you with this could surprisingly go a long way to avoid misconceptions and reduce product reworks.

A well-known example to prove this would be the utilization of a ‘Prioritization Matrix’ to communicate the priority of features based on their urgency and importance. This technique will assist you to acknowledge the clear-cut expectations of your stakeholders and contribute to streamlining the requirement process to be more objective and evidence-based.

2. Balance Attention between Business Objectives and UI Expectations

All five fingers of the hand do not look the same. Similarly, users and their way of thinking varies from one person to another. Practice driving requirement gathering discussions and the requirement elicitation processes to not only focus on the business objective but to simultaneously note down any existing/potential User Interface (UI) related concerns. The balanced attention that you will eventually acquire guides you to look at problems from a diversified viewpoint.

3. Analyze Similar Products in the Market

Conduct a competitor analysis on the UI of similar products in the market with fresh eyes on the fundamental aspects of product attributes such as usability, navigation, content, and design at a business level. Inspection of the competitive market including customer reviews, ratings, and comments will open more opportunities for further improvement and identify ways in differentiating your product amongst competitors.

STEP 2 – DESIGN

4. Obtain Feedback and Brainstorm

Undergoing several iterations of gathering feedback may sound tiring… but worth the effort! Ensure that stakeholders are kept informed of product-related decisions throughout the product development process. Request a quick call to review the design and verify that you’re on the right track with what is expected. Any requested modifications could easily be incorporated before actual implementation during this phase.

Once the stakeholders are satisfied, a quick solution walkthrough in no more than 30 minutes to your internal team would help discover any misconceived notions from the ‘Empathize’ phase. Furthermore, brainstorming will aid you with validating your solution of its practical feasibility before the project moves forward. Though time-consuming, this will certainly reap the benefits of avoiding expensive re-works later in the process!

5. Write Requirements to match Basic UI/UX Standards

UX on usability, navigation, content, and design defines the levels of product-user interaction. Keep a lookout when writing requirements to match the product design where the look-and-feel should be consistent throughout the application. To ensure your expectations meet the product reality, business analysts should provide detailed guidance on some of the following essential elements when writing requirements.

  • Type of Header

Example: Heading 1, Heading 2, Title, Subtitle

  • Font Styling

Example: Italics, Bold, Underline

  • Display Order of Elements

Example: Product 1, Product 2, Product 3

  • Logical Order of Tabs

Example: Location Settings, Operating Hours, Holidays, Products/Services

  • Page Navigation

Example: Upon clicking on the ‘Help’ hyperlink, the user will be navigated to the ‘Help & Support Services’ page.

Additionally, it is important to address the actions that will be triggered upon the user clicking on Action Buttons, Tabs, Page Scrolls, Icons, Dropdowns, etc.

STEP 3 – IDEATE AND PROTOTYPE

6. Utilize Modern Prototyping Techniques

Like the importance of a trailer for a movie, prototypes play a critical role in the product development process. Integrating prototyping techniques such as wireframes and storyboards will provide an overview of the entire product with emphasis on core components to the stakeholders and the organization.

  • Wireframes – these tools act as a visual guide to portray a screen blueprint or a page schematic to illustrate the business functions of a feature.

Example: Balsamiq, Cacoo, Sketch, Omnigraffle, Axure, Adobe XD

  • Storyboarding – a technique that allows users to navigate through a series of wireframes/images to represent the sequential flow of how a process works.

Example: InVisionBoords, Frame Forge, Panel Forge
Adoption of prototyping as early as possible to obtain stakeholder/customer feedback will assure that the requirements are in line with the expectations of your users! Moreover, it fosters your creativity to play around with toolkits like Microsoft Word and Excel to come up with matrices that clearly visualize requirement needs.

This is a form of the ‘Mini-Skirt’ approach which will help you to cover the requirement essentials with as minimum textual content as possible to avoid readers missing out on details, save more time and ensure that your information is communicated in the way it is intended to!

7. Brainstorm Again!

Discuss with your team, stakeholders, and users (if possible) by walking them through the prototypes. This will help identify any requirement gaps, areas to be improved, and pinpoint any trivial details which can be omitted! Evaluate and modify the prototypes based on the provided feedback to further refine the final output to match your customer/stakeholder needs.

STEP 4 – TESTING

8. Observe your Users to Validate the Final Solution

Apply the ‘Contextual Inquiry’ method from the ‘Open Innovation’ concept to validate your product expectations. Allow users from different environments to use the application and observe their behavioral patterns to understand any UX-related concerns which might have been overlooked in the previous phases. Question users on difficulties they faced and any suggestions which could enhance their experience with your product. This way, you will gain valuable insights by learning through users to recognize where your product stands against its expectation, aiding you to interpret the gap between the two.

Acknowledgment of these 8 core UI/UX concepts in Design Thinking will doubtlessly act as a vital catalyst to supplement your customers, project stakeholders, and organization by saving more time and extra dollars spent on rework.I believe in the saying; “Experience Speaks Louder than Words” and it is the right time for you to take up your Rubik’s Cube challenge and try solving the puzzle once more… BUT this time with a few good tools to guide you along the way. Good luck!

Sanju Sundaram

Associate Business Analyst

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