Sketches done at a #DesignSprint with Yasith Abeynayaka

The Business Analyst’s Jaw-Dropping Guide To Product Design

Seven points to be brilliant at Product Design

The Business Analyst

Business Analysts are Special and Young: Special, because the outcome of your product or project, mostly (if not totally) depends on the BA. Young, because Business Analysis practice itself is new (just 14 years since the first IIBA AGM was held).

The former speaks about the impact to the final product where the latter goes with the ability to disrupt for a better change.

There are five Business Analysis Concepts, six Knowledge Areas, six Business Analyst’s Competencies, and fifty Techniques, as far as the BABOK of IIBA defines.

The Product Designer

Product Designers on the other hand, would critically focus on designing an outstanding product using the best design methods available today. They are more modern, demanding and a visionary breed in the new agile world.

In any case, a Product Designer would unconsciously step into countless Business Analysis knowledge areas, tools and techniques.

Here is the Guide

As a matter of fact, there are intersections and blurred lines between Business Analysis and Product Design.

“If Business Analysis is a Jack of All Trades, Product Design is the Master of One. In other words, a Swiss Army Knife could save your life. Yet, a Samurai Sword would make you a hero.”

Let’s cut through the clutter and find out what are the best tips a typical Business Analyst can follow, to become a brilliant Product Designer.

Tip #1 — Focus on the “Design” rather than the “Change”

Since Business Analyst’s ultimate goal of “enabling change” would be too broad, switch your focus from “Change” to “Design” in all of your work as much as possible.

Product Design is all about Design, where Business Analysis is all about enabling Change.

Tip #2 — Replace your old BA tools with modern design tools

Brand new Product Design methods are popping up super fast. The more you try them, the better you become at product design.

You must keep an eye on top design schools and their methods such as IDEO — Design Kit and Stanford — D School Methods

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.” –Martin LeBlanc, Iconfinder

Tip #3 — Learn about Empathetic Design

Product Designers are have more empathy towards User compared to Business Analysts who are trained to put more emphasis on Business and Enterprise Change.

From initial User Research phases to Product Design, Development and Testing, User Empathy is one of the most important factors that Product Designers must not forget.

“The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathize, synthesize, and glean insights that enable him or her to ‘make the invisible visible.” –Hillman Curtis

Tip #4 — Levitate your organisation culture from Business Analysis to Product Design

Product Design Culture is modern, compared to traditional Business Analysis culture.

Great product companies like Tesla, Apple, AirBnB, Facebook and Google has created amazing design cultures at their organisations. From recruitment to firing, and from product research to application testing, they have created some really great design cultures.

Creating a design culture at workplace is not an easy job. Besides, you may not be powerful enough to do it alone. However, at least you would be able to convince influential people to make a design-infused organisation.

Tip #5 — Become a master of Experience Design (XD)

XD or UXD (User Experience Design) has been the most important thing when it comes to Product Design. Experience Design provides a lot of fire power to a Product Designer to better perform User Research, Prototyping, testing and etc.

This is why Product Designers are really good at experience design.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

Tip #6 — Collaborate more with Product Managers rather than Project Managers

With the introduction of Agile Methodologies, the focus has changed from “Specs and Deliverable” to “Customer Collaboration and User Experience.

Modern Product Managers are perfect hybrids of Engineering and Design (I.e. Technology-expertise + User-Empathy + Product-Vision + Marketing). So, obviously, you have much to learn from Product Managers compared to typical Project Managers.

Tip #7 —Study psychology if you haven’t already done so

Psychology plays a major role in designing products that people would love to use.

Product Design borrows heavily from psychology and Behavioral Studies. You need not become a Ph.D. of psychology to design compelling products. But you need to know just enough to design products that people are going to use over and over again.

“Compelling Design is About Psychology, Not Technology” — Amy Bucher

@Harshadewa is a Business Analyst / Product Designer based in Colombo, Sri Lanka